If you love cake - and really, who doesn't? - then you'll love cake pops from Dessert Heaven.
A cake pop is a two-bite piece of, yes, dessert heaven, that comes in four standard flavors from the mother-daughter team of Vernetta Smith and Heaven Muse of Racine. Customers can choose from strawberry lemonade, red velvet, birthday cake or triple chocolate.
"I was at a wedding show last year when I had my first cake pop," Smith said. "And, it just wasn't very good. I knew I could do better so I got started looking up how to bake them and experimenting with flavors."
Smith's core business strength is as an event planner, especially dessert tables for weddings and corporate events.
"I've always loved weddings, but not really for myself," she explained. "I skipped the dresses and looked at the receptions, looking at themes and colors."
Smith got her start as a college student at Southern Illinois University where she was a history major planning to teach high school.
"I planned a lot of parties for friends and cooked a lot for friends," she explained. "My dream was, is, to own my own restaurant."
But like with so many others, real life got in the way of plans. Smith found a career in retail management while she continued to build her event-planning resume on the side through Very Special Events by V. Smith. She had two daughters along the way - Heaven and Harmony, both cheerleaders at Case High School - and eventually planned her own 2009 wedding in Cancun, Mexico.
In Summer 2011, Smith decided it was time to start making her dreams a reality.
"I quit working and went full-time into wedding planning," she said."That was scary, but we're busy so that's good."
And that's how she ended up at the bridal show and how the Dessert Heaven brand cake pops got their start. The pops have been at Sentry for a few weeks and recently found a home at Piggly Wiggly on Washington Avenue as well.
Smith is also taking full advantage of the free social media tools available to help her build her brand. In addition to her website, visitors can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, and Instagram at dessertheaven.
Smith and Muse make the cake pops in the commercial kitchen at HALO where they rent the space for $5 an hour. The program is offered by the shelter for entrepreneurs who need a licensed and insured space to create their goods. HALO benefits because the money helps fund their services for the homeless.
She said the scariest part of going full-time into event planning and the cake pop business is that she still wants to open her own restaurant.
"I'm looking forward to that goal, but it's scary because once you open the doors, there's a lot of money attached to your venture at that point," Smith stated.
But, the best part of being her own boss, she added, is how much fun she's having.
"This is almost not like work," Smith said. "Doing this with my daughter and building something with her is so much fun."