Mixing Business with Family: Cathryn’s Cake Salon Finds Recipe for Sweet Success

March 20, 2024

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In Philadelphia’s West Oak Lane neighborhood, there’s a bakery that’s about more than fresh cakes, pastries, and desserts; it’s about family. Cathryn’s Cake Salon is a testament to the power of family-owned businesses. 

Inspired by Fluellen family matriarch Cathryn, the bakery is a true family affair. Cathryn’s Cake Salon is powered by mother Cheryl Foat and her daughters Judeah and Vaniah Foat. Cheryl learned to bake from her own mother Cathryn, and she passed those lessons down to her daughters. Together, they’ve been serving up baked goods made from scratch since 2013. 

Cathryn’s Cake Salon offers custom cakes in dozens of flavors, cobblers and pies, cookies, muffins, and all types of confections at their retail location and online store. And they pass on their family baking skills to anyone who wants to learn with on and offsite decorating classes. They keep their customers updated with a “sweet schedule” that promotes the best days to pick up a desired baked good.

Cheryl and Vaniah represented the bakery in season one of Netflix’s Sugar Rush, a reality show where bakers compete for $10,000. They faced off against three other teams in ocean-themed challenges where their pina colada cupcakes received raves from the judges. “It was one of the most memorable events that we have done in our business,” Vaniah Foat said. “We were able to compete and network with some of the best bakers in the world.”

This family of hardworking women has been able to adapt to changes in the industry. “We have upcoming items that we are adding to our menu for 2024 which include ice cream, milkshakes and different pastries,” said co-owner and executive vice president Vaniah Foat. “We also are very active on our social media platforms to keep our customers engaged and additionally offer a virtual menu of what products we have in stock for the day.” 

Cathryn’s Cake Salon worked with PIDC on expanding their business. Our team assisted them in helping administer the Philadelphia Department of Commerce’s InStore Forgivable Loan, which helps new and existing businesses on targeted commercial corridors. The funding helped shape and pivot the business to increase profits and expand the product offerings to include breakfast items and gourmet coffee. 

“We found that staying true to yourself, connecting with other women entrepreneurs, and finding your unique voice in your industry can bring success in your business.”

Vaniah Foat
Co-owner & Executive Vice President of Cathryn’s Cake Salon

“The journey to entrepreneurial success can include more challenges for women,” said Vaniah Foat when asked what advice she would offer to aspiring female entrepreneurs. “We may have to endure balancing business and family life, struggling to be taken seriously, accessing funding, building a support network, and coping with the fear of failure.  However, believing in yourself, your business, and never quitting will help prove those challenges are far from unconquerable. We found that staying true to yourself, connecting with other women entrepreneurs, and finding your unique voice in your industry can bring success in your business.”

The bakery is active in their community, with programs that include their summer book challenge, encouraging students to read during the summer; “Reading with Momma Baker”, a program for children from preschool to middle school that includes a story, treat box,and an activity; and a back-to-school essay contest for students to share their aspirations for the future and how school will assist in obtaining their dreams, where winners receive a gift card for the upcoming school year.  

If you’re looking to treat yourself and support small business at the same time, Cathryn’s Cake Salon is a must-try!

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