Friday, March 07, 2008

D's Sweet Designs, Owasso

(CycleDog Photo)

Interview with Deanna Hernandez, owner

A custom cake boutique

9100 N Garnett Rd.

Suite G

Owasso, OK 74055

Hours: Tues-Fri. 11 am - 6 pm and Sat. 10 am - 1 pm.

Phone: 918.272.3103

Fax: 918.272.3893



(In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that my daughter is a part-time employee of D's Sweet Designs. The interview this piece is based on was conducted several weeks before she was hired.....Ed)

Armies are said to travel on their stomachs and that's no less true of cyclists. We ride to eat. So it's always a pleasure to find a new destination that sells good food.

Deanna Hernandez is the owner of D's Sweet Designs in Owasso. This custom bakery opened at the beginning of the year, offering cakes, cookies, and cheesecake. She says, “If you're going to blow your diet, do it here. Eat that whole piece of cheesecake and enjoy it, but then cut out the French fries or eat a salad for lunch.” Keep the cheesecake in mind, because we'll return to it in a moment.

All cyclists understand the concept of balance, whether that applies to riding a bike or eating a balanced diet. But one area that Deanna talked about was definitely too intense, too immoderate to have any semblance of balance. That was passion, a passion for making good food that people like immensely.

Everyone needs to be passionate about something. If you do what you're passionate about don't worry about the money because the money will follow. People will get excited about what you're excited about. Success will follow. That's part of the charm of it. I'm the little train that could. Mom and Pop businesses feel like they're more invested in the business, customer service, and doing a great job. I want people to feel like it's OK to come in and visit with us. When work feels like a hobby it's fun. I don't ever want to dread coming in here to work. The ego side of me wants people to see my work and say, 'Oh, I can see you got that from D's Sweet Designs.'”

I freely admit that I like Mom-and-Pop businesses because they're often much more relaxed than the big franchises or chains. Business is conducted at a slower pace, a pace that makes customers feel more like a valued family member rather than a stranger who must be relieved of his money as quickly as possible, and then shown the door.

Deanna was working for a gas and oil company in Houston when she started her first bakery in 2002.

I brought cheesecake to our Christmas party. People wanted to know where I got it, and I had to tell them it was my own recipe.”

She started in a small shop. No one wanted to lend money because she had no real bakery experience, just what she'd learned at home.

It's a whole different animal when you're doing it with a big oven, big mixers and all that.”

She simply couldn't raise enough money. The frustration had reduced her to tears at her desk one day. The company hedge fund manager wanted to know why she was crying. She poured her heart out, telling him that this was her dream and the lack of funds stood in the way. He asked to try a piece of her cheesecake, and after eating it, wrote her a check to cover the balance.

That's some very persuasive cheesecake!

Like many small business owners, she found that the store became her life. It was successful, but the long hours took their toll.

Working 60-70 hours a week is no way to live. The original store had a long menu. I'd get there at 6 in the morning and stay until 8 at night. Fridays started at 6:30 and I worked until 2AM, returning at 7AM on Saturday and closing at 5. I was burning out really, really fast. My family won't let me do that again. The new shop is the only custom cake shop between Tulsa and Caney, Kansas. It's a labor of love, nothing that I'll ever make millions on, but it's the sheer joy to see someone take a bite of a chocolate truffle and watch their face just melt.”

I have a weakness for bakeries. My waistline proves it. But I can apply that concept of 'balance' to my diet as well as my riding, and enjoy those tasty things in life (cheesecake) in a moderate way (truffles) knowing full well that a good life (brownies) consists of yielding to temptation (chocolate covered strawberries) now and then. Not that I think about food all the time, of course.

If you're looking for a destination for one of your rides, consider a stop at D's Sweet Designs. Sure, you'll load up on calories but you'll do the miles to make up for them, right?


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