“During my first semester, I decided to work so I could help my parents with the expenses,” she said. “I found a job in 2003 as a teller at the SouthTrust Bank in Oxford. I slowly worked my way up in banking from teller to teller manager, then assistant manager, and finally, branch manager.”
However, like so many people during the recent economic downturn, she found herself without a job last October. Unlike most young people who suddenly become unemployed, she didn’t start sending out resumes or knocking on doors, seeking a job. She created her own job.
While Fuller, 28, had been building a career as a banker, her heart was in a different place. With her options suddenly open, she turned her attention to her love of baking, something she has done since childhood.
She was born in Douglasville in 1984, but her family moved to Ranburne, Ala., two years later.
“My dad wanted to move away from the city and have some land to do what he wanted,” she said.
Fuller’s mother, Cindy Crook, was a homemaker and the young girl learned the art of baking from her mother at an early age.
“We’d bake cookies almost every day and take some to Brother O.V. Sewell, pastor of our church, Crumley’s Chapel of God,” she recalled. “I later started doing cakes on the side, making them for nieces, nephews and special events at the church.”
So, after losing her job last fall, Fuller’s attention began turning more and more to her love of baking. She talked the idea over with her husband, Todd, who is a manager at Home Depot in Oxford.
“We prayed a lot about it and decided to see what we could do,” Fuller said. After a January visit with her mother to her grandmother, who had suffered a stroke, Fuller came back home, knowing what she wanted to do.
While getting her hair done one day at Heads Up in Bowdon, where she had been going since the seventh grade, her hair stylist and friend, Lisa Robinson, told her about a vacant storefront, just across College Street from the beauty shop. Fuller called the number posted on the shop door, and met with Gerald Scales, the building’s owner.
“He was wonderful,” she said. “He said, ‘Whatever you want to do with the place, we can do it,’” she said.
After her husband worked his day job, the two of them worked at night to get the shop ready, building the counters and getting the equipment.
“In one month, everything came together and we were able to open March 1,” she said.
The name she chose for her new business was Bliss Cakes.
“I just came up with the name one night while sitting on the couch,” she said. “I was thinking about the feeling I get when I’m eating a cake or cupcake.”
Fuller speaks with pride that all her bakery products are made in her shop “from scratch” and she buys all the ingredients she can from local merchants.
“I specialize in designer cakes,” she said. “I can do weddings, birthdays or any special occasion. All the cakes you see on TV shows from New York City, but you think you can’t afford, we can do them and make them affordable for you.”
She has baked the big tiered wedding cakes, sculpted birthday cakes and SpongeBob cakes for children’s events.
“If you have an idea, just bring it to us and we’ll go from there,” she said.
She makes cupcakes, which are a current craze, along with cookies, pies, fudge and cinnamon rolls. The only non-bakery items she sells is chicken salad. Coffee is provided free in the store.
“The community has been very receptive and supportive,” Fuller said. “They’ve been my bread and butter.”
Although the shop is just starting to advertise, she said much of the business comes from referrals and word-of-mouth.
Many referrals come from the Bridal Shop, which is just down the street from her. The recent Bowdon Founder’s Day event brought a flood of business.
While Fuller likes to emphasize the “old time” feel of her shop, she also takes advantage of all the modern online social networks to build business.
“Our website is www.bliss-cakes.com and we have a Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/blisscakesfuller,” she said. “I post photos of recent cakes we’ve made on the Facebook page, so people can get ideas about what they want.”
Fuller estimates about half her business comes from online and the other half from calls and people coming in the shop.
“We want to keep the small town feel, but we use a lot of new ways to do things,” she said.
Bliss Cakes is at 119 West College St., and is open during the summer on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Extended hours are planned in the fall. The phone number is 770-258-1255.
While her husband and mother help out some in the shop, Fuller’s dream is to grow the business enough so she can hire another worker.
“When I lost my job, I knew work was hard to come by,” she said. “I would like to be able to provide jobs for other people. I would like to bring business back to Bowdon, as an ‘everybody knows you’ town.”
Her advice to young people, just out of college and thinking about starting a business, “Think about things you’re good in and can possibly start on a budget.”
Fuller calls her own venture into business a “very scary thing” at times, but something built on faith and trust in God.
“It’s been a lot of hard work and long hours, but when I look at what’s in the future, it’s been well worth it,” she said.