By Michelle Stein
Three short years ago, Sara Anderson was working as a math teacher at Lima Senior High School. But her daily life couldn’t be more different now.
Today, 27-year-old Anderson is the face behind Lima’s thriving gourmet cupcake business, Sara’s Sweets, which just upgraded to its very own storefront Dec. 15.
So how exactly did this young, multi-talented teacher transform a sweet hobby into a booming business? Anderson said her passion for baking started off alongside her mother when she was just a child.
“My mom and I always baked, especially at the holidays,” she said. “She would bake a lot, and we would make up cookie tins for the neighbors and family. And then in high school, I got a job working at a bakery in my hometown, and so I worked there for about three years through high school and college.”
While in college, she continued with her cupcake obsession as she slowly perfected her growing list of recipes, and her cross country and track teammates were always more than willing to help taste test the creations. Anderson even made cupcakes for a few large events on campus.
Still, she didn’t have plans of opening her own bakery anytime soon and continued pursuing a degree in education. Her cupcakes, meanwhile, remained in high demand. The summer after college graduation is when Anderson first catered them for a friend’s wedding. Shortly after that, she baked more than 500 cupcakes for her own wedding.
Following their nuptials, the Illinois native moved to be with her husband, Ben, in Lima, where she soon landed her first teaching job at Lima Senior. There, she would frequently bring in tasty treats for her fellow staff members and students to enjoy.
Word of mouth of Anderson’s fantastic baking skills traveled fast. Before long, she was in contact with the owners of The Met, who had heard from a mutual friend that she loved to bake and her goods were really good. In 2012, when she started baking for The Met, Anderson also opened up a Facebook page to sell her treats from home — just to test out the waters.
“It just took off from there,” Anderson said.
One year later, she decided to take that leap of faith and turn her passion into a business. Anderson quit her career as an educator and jumped into baking full time.
“You go from the steady paycheck, benefits, everything, to the unknown of running your own business,” she said. “It’s a lot of risk, but I’m glad I did it.”
Between selling treats from home and opening up a cupcake counter at Pears Avenue (and then at The Met after Pears Avenue closed), the demand for local gourmet sweets in Lima was definitely there.
As of Dec. 15, Sara’s Sweets parted ways with The Met and has started its newest adventure as a standalone cupcake and bake shop. Located at 435 S. Eastown Road in Lima, right next to the Vein Care Center, Sara’s Sweets is open for business from 10 a.m. to 6 pm. Tuesdays to Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
“We have about eight types of cupcakes available daily, plus a lot of cookies, brownies and bar-type things,” she said. “And special order cakes — the same stuff I do now, just on a larger scale and more availability.”
Sara’s Sweets also offers coffee and has recently expanded its menu to include cinnamon rolls and scones. Among her impressive cupcake options are: French silk pie, cookies & cream, key lime pie, PB&J, pineapple upside down cake, cappuccino chip, Boston cream pie and more — adding up to more than 40 gourmet flavors in total.
By far, the buckeye cupcake is the top seller at Sara’s Sweets. The website describes it as “chocolate cake filled with a buckeye center, topped with fluffy peanut butter buttercream and a buckeye.”
And Anderson’s favorite flavor? Brownie batter, which is “chocolate cake filled with a brownie truffle center, topped with brownie batter buttercream, hot fudge and brownie bits.”
Anderson said customers often joke with her about always being surrounded by delicious treats. They wonder how she can stop herself from eating cupcakes all day long.
“When you’re around it all of the time, you don’t really want it,” she laughed. “I’ll have maybe a cupcake every other week or so.”
Anderson admits she never pictured herself as an entrepreneur so early in life.
“It was always kind of like, ‘Oh, someday way in the future I’ll have a bakery when I’m old and retired.’ I never thought at the age of 27 I would be doing it,” she said.
Still, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I can’t even imagine still being in the classroom,” Anderson said. “This is where I’m supposed to be.”
Address: 435 S. Eastown Road, Lima, OH
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays