South Shandon Street will welcome a sweet new addition to its catalog of local businesses.
Kia Brown, owner of The Sweet Shop SC, is gearing up to open her bakery in the coming weeks at 141 South Shandon St. (Suite C) in Columbia.
Brown has worked in insurance for 15 years and began baking out of her home as a hobby. The Ladson native moved to Columbia in 1998 where she graduated from the University of South Carolina.
"I officially started in August of 2018," Brown said. "I’ve been in insurance for 15 years and I was in between jobs. I already knew I wanted to start a bakery because I had been working out of the house. It wasn't until the beginning of the pandemic that I really started looking for a storefront."
She added that her initial orders came after baking a cake for her son's first birthday, which left others impressed with her work. "I started baking when my son turned one and it just sort of blossomed from there," she said. "I always enjoyed decorating stuff and always enjoyed baking."
According to Brown, she began taking her cookie and cake business seriously in 2018 after her daughter encouraged her to open a bakery. She took online cookie decorating courses which she said helped her skills tremendously.
Once the pandemic prompted Brown to work her insurance job from home in 2020, she said she was able to focus more on nailing down her technique and taking more orders from customers.
Brown takes her orders for specialized cookies and cakes through her business website.
Upon opening the storefront, she will offer retail hours Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. During these hours, customers can purchase pre-made cookies, cupcakes, mini cakes, and make custom orders.
Retail hours will not be available Monday through Thursday but customers can request an appointment for custom orders. Brown said as she continues to grow her business and is able to hire a staff, she will alter her hours.
In addition to cookies and cakes, The Sweet Shop SC will also offer cookie decorating classes beginning in August.
A special service will also be available to other local bakers. Brown will rent her space to those who need an area to teach classes of their own. "I want to open it up so they have a place where they can teach their classes as well," she said. "I want to be all about community and I want other bakers and makers to know that I understand the struggle."
Brown said she has already received an overwhelming amount of support in her endeavor.
"It has been amazing, specifically from other women-owned businesses," she said. "The amount of support from other woman-owned businesses and other local bakeries, they have been so, so nice."
Though The Sweet Shop SC is scheduled to open later in June, Brown said she will host a grand opening celebration in mid-to-late July.
She expressed her gratitude for the journey of making her dream come to life, crediting the community and her family for their support.
"It was really crazy how I stumbled on it," Brown said. "They say whenever it’s right, God will line everything up and this is one of those things."