Rebecca Toney spends her days baking and decorating cupcakes, cookies and elaborate one-of-a-kind cakes for her new bakery in downtown Clover.
“This isn’t even like work to me,” said Toney, owner of Willow Sweets Custom Cakes on Kings Mountain Street with her husband, Todd Toney, and her father, Roy Wilkins.
Toney, a Clover native and a 1993 graduate of Clover High School, has been making and selling cakes and other baked goods from her home for most of her adult life.
But the growing business took over her home, so she opened her first storefront bakery.
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“This was my mom’s dream for me to go ahead and open the bakery,” Toney said. Her mother died a year ago but had always supported Toney’s dream. “It was one of her dying wishes.”
Toney said she taught herself how to bake from scratch.
“Over the years, one thing led to another,” she said. “I did cakes for my children for their birthdays, and they invited their friends, and their friends’ moms saw what I could do, and it literally progressed by word of mouth.”
During a six-year stint in Germany, where her former husband was stationed in the military, Toney baked American-style birthday cakes for her family and other military families because they weren’t available there. She also made cakes for some military functions.
Willow Sweet offers 19 flavors of cake and 13 fillings for cake and cupcakes. She also makes cookies and pastries.
“As far as your decorations, your imagination is your only limitation,” she said. “I’ve done it all. I love a challenge. My whole mantra is baking your dreams come true.”
Her Facebook page includes pictures of her cakes and other creations, including a rainbow cake, a Dr. Seuss cake, a popcorn cake, an elaborate castle cake, a Spiderman cake and a grilling-themed cake for Father’s Day. Cakes themed around the movie “Frozen” have also been popular.
Cupcakes are offered in a variety of flavors and designs, like Strawberry Jewel, Sunflower and Peanut Butter Cup.
The cupcakes will be changed regularly, she said.
“I want it to be a completely new experience every time they come in,” she said of her customers.
The bakery won’t be limited to sweets. Todd Toney enjoys making bread and is preparing to add fresh homemade ones – like sourdough and artisan breads – to the bakery’s offerings.
“We’re not just cakes,” she said. “We are going to cover the entire gamut of everything.”
Todd Toney said the bakery has enjoyed a good response in the first month.
“We’ve had a lot of return customers already,” he said. “We’ve had a couple customers that have been here every day or every other day.”
Roy Wilkins, who helped make it possible for the couple to open the bakery, said he was happy to support his daughter’s dream.
“She is good at what she does, and I just wanted to give her the opportunity to share it with other people,” Wilkins said. “She’s an artist at making cakes.”
Rebecca Toney said the bakery also will offer sugar-free cakes, cupcakes and cookies and some gluten-free items as well.
She said her father and her 19-year-old daughter are diabetic, so she is aware of the need for desserts for those with special dietary needs.
She said she was initially surprised at the demand for the gluten-free items. “It’s a high demand thing right now,” she said.
Toney said the specialized desserts have to taste good as well as look pretty.
“It’s hard to find a quality product that’s actually going to taste good,” she said. “And it has to taste good. It has to taste better than it looks, in my opinion.”
Toney said her prices start around $20 for a basic round cake and go up depending on the size and detail of the cake. Cupcakes are $1.50 to $2.50 each.
She said she meets individually for cake tastings with customers who want to buy wedding cakes or other elaborate cakes so they can have one-on-one time to design their cake creation.