A sweet idea takes hold in the village

WELLSVILLE – Hobbies have a way of taking on lives of their own. For Ashley Haddox of Wellsville, the baking that she took up for fun while attending college has turned into the sweetest new business in the village.

“It was just a fun hobby, and it just kind of went from there,” said Haddox.

The end result is Simply Sweet Cakes by Ashley, located at 459 Main St. in Wellsville. The bakery specializes in custom specialty cakes for weddings, birthday parties or any other occasion that calls for something unique and delicious.

Even more popular than the cakes, however, are the ever-changing selection of cupcakes, with peanut butter chocolate and German chocolate being customer favorites. Daily and weekly special varieties, such as banana split, cotton candy, chocolate-covered strawberry and margarita have made the cupcake case an adventure for sweets enthusiasts.

They share counter space with an equally-tempting selection of cookies, brownies, donuts and jumbo muffins. Gourmet pretzels and cake pops are also on the menu, with pies on the horizon. Sugar-free and gluten-free treats are available for those with special dietary needs.

No less special are the beverages served at Simply Sweet. In addition to regular and flavored coffees, Simply Sweet carries flavored and regular milk from Baker’s Golden Dairy of New Waterford, whose milks are pasteurized but not homogenized for a farm-fresh taste.

The surprising source of this sweet new venture is the 24-year-old Haddox who says she only began baking four years ago while finishing up the degree in radiology she earned from Eastern Gateway Community College in 2011. Up until then, she and her mother, Lori Haddox, had baked things together while she was growing up.

“Some cupcakes and brownies, nothing crazy,” Ashley Haddox said.

Soon, she was taking requests for wedding cakes for friends and family, and birthdays cakes for young nieces and nephews. Her experiments in elaborately-decorated specialty cakes yielded creations featuring ribbons, cartoon characters and sports logos sculpted in fondont.

As happens so often now, the turning point came when she began posting photos of these cakes on social media like Facebook, giving her creations a much wider audience. “It just seemed to take off from there,” Haddox says.

Her hobby soon turned into a dream of having her own business. Haddox says people in town began pointing out unoccupied business spaces in the village that would be good candidates to house a small bake shop. She looked into them here and there, not realizing just how close her dream was to becoming reality.

“It must have been meant to be. It just kind of fell into our hands,” she said.

With help from family and friends, the spot at 459 Main St. was made into Simply Sweet Cakes, which opened for business June 23. Haddox says business has been very steady since then, even a bit overwhelming at times, but in a good way. The only full-time employees are Haddox and her mother Lori, though an aunt and cousin are available if things get really busy, she says.

Despite the degree in radiology, Lori Haddox says her daughter’s surprise career path wasn’t that much of a surprise after reflecting on how much Ashley seemed to love baking once she got into it. She also has encouraged her children to follow their hearts and do what they really want with their lives. “Go for your dreams,” Lori Haddox said.

The new business owner says the community has been very supportive, with other local business owners even sending flowers and wreaths of congratulations on opening day. “Wellsville has been very supportive – businesses, the people, everybody,” Lori Haddox said.

Simply Sweet Cakes by Ashley is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Daily and weekly specials are available at Simply Sweet Cakes on Facebook or by calling 330-303-7688.