Wise, VA – July 13, 2018 – After working in the grocery business for 15 years, Kelley Adkins knew that when it came to making cakes, candies and pies, she knew what to do and how to do it on her own. The only thing she was lacking was a place to do it on her own – that is, until she applied for and received a $10,000 Seed Capital Matching Grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA). Then she says, she was on her way.
Together with her daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Peak, the pair opened K&E Southern Sweets on 516 West Main Street in Wise. The new bakery offers wedding cakes, birthday cakes, specialty cupcakes, homemade candies, pies, cookies and cake pops.
“I had done baking and candy making in the grocery business for 15 years and I knew I could do it on my own,” Adkins says. “I learned all I could along the way and I felt the time was right to open my own business.”
“Assisting news small business owners in realizing their business plans is what the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund is all about,” says Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “K&E Southern Sweets had a good business plan and their proximity to the Inn at Wise and UVA-Wise also gave them a ready clientele, adding to their ability to succeed.”
K&E, named after its owners – Kelley and Elizabeth — applied for and was awarded the grant from VCEDA which Adkins says made a difference, allowing them to purchase a bigger oven and a commercial mixer.
“It all helped to make our kitchen more industrial and user friendly,” Adkins says, noting that became necessary in order to efficiently operate the commercial business.
Already, they have met their projections of creating two full-time jobs.
Adkins says she and Peak are always looking to add to the array of sweets they offer at the bakery with personal size pies next on the menu.
“The crust is my own recipe and something I came up with when I went in the kitchen and just started experimenting,” she says.
They’ve also added ice cream which in these hot summer months is a big seller, especially when paired with hot fudge cake or prepared as an old-fashioned banana split or a thick, creamy milkshake.
Adkins admits the days are long with most days starting at 6:30 a.m. – 5 a.m. on Saturdays – to meet the cake orders the new shop has received. Business hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., but as she notes, it takes a few hours to prep the homemade goodies which line the storefront cases.
“We make cupcakes and doughnuts twice a day, so they are always fresh,” Adkins says, adding customers can be assured they are getting fresh baked goods at K&E. “None of our baked goods items have been previously frozen.”
Peak notes the bakery business is all new to her, but something she is enjoying exploring it and learning from Adkins.
Adkins noted when she first started looking for building space, she started out in nearby Kingsport, Tenn., but then came across the space in Wise and knew it was the space for her.
“Tim Blankenbecler with the Small Business Development Center at Mountain Empire Community College and Carl Snodgrass with the Wise County Industrial Development Authority helped us so much with the paperwork to develop our business plan and help us with the application to VCEDA,” Adkins says. “They have always been just a phone call away.”
As the bell rings on the front door and a new customer walks in to pick out her sweet confection choice to go, Adkins smiles as she surveys the shop and says, “everyone has just been so helpful along the way. This is just a dream come true.”
About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.
About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton