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New Shelton baker has long history with cakes

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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Sugar Stop Cake Shop offers sweet treats downtown

Michele Leatherman grew up surrounded by cakes — literally.

Leatherman, the owner of the new bakery Sugar Stop Cake Shop, said because her mother was a cake decorator their lives were always full of cakes.

"They would just be piled up around the house," Leatherman laughed. "I thought, 'I don't ever want to see cake ever again.' It was like liver and onions."

Once she moved out of her childhood home and started her own career, Leatherman steered clear of the baked good.

"I could not stand cakes," she said.

But after Leatherman founded a youth program at her church in Northern California, she found cakes creeping back into her life in the form of kids' birthday parties.

"I loved parties; I'm a big events person," Leatherman said. "Once my kids got older, they had birthday parties, so cakes came back into my world and I started to bake."

Now, Leatherman wouldn't have it any other way. The California native moved to Mason County about a year ago and discovered the empty building on the corner of Seventh Street and Railroad Avenue in Shelton.

"We drove by and saw it was for lease, and my husband joked, 'Oh, that's where you should open your bakery,'" Leatherman recalled. "And I did."

Sugar Stop Cake Shop opened two mojiths ago in the downtown location, serving everything from cupcakes and pies to coffee and artisan pizza.

The shop is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Leatherman said one of the hardest parts about opening the business was deciding on a menu.

"I spent days and days, and hours and hours, going through cookbooks and recipes to narrow down what I'm best at," she said, adding that she also consulted friends and family for what their favorite bakery staples were.

The shop has been growing and evolving as Leatherman gets a feel for the Shelton community. When Sugar Stop opened, Leatherman offered a plethora of breakfast-type baked goods, such as chocolate croissants. However, she noticed Shelton residents still bought cupcakes instead first thing in the morning.

"Who wants cupcakes at 7 o'clock in the morning?" she laughed. "But OK, we'll do that."

Leatherman said that's also how she devised the shop's lunch menu. Customers began requesting she add some less-sweet items for meals, so the baker looked at what she could bake for lunches.

The menu now has about eight artisan personal pizzas.

In a similar fashion, Leatherman decided to add ice cream to the menu. She found an old Olympic Ice Cream banner in the building as she was preparing to move in, and decided to call the ice cream company to see if they wanted to stock her store.

"We just keep thinking of other things Shelton doesn't have and say, 'Oh, OK, let's do this,'" Leatherman said.

Leatherman said several people have commented on her low prices — $2 cupcakes and $8 pizzas — and suggested she raise the price. However, the shop owner said she's committed to keeping prices low.

"I really want something, especially for Shelton, where anyone can walk in and afford to buy something," she said. "I want people to love what I do.... That's why prices are as low as they are, and that's why they're going to stay as low as they are."

In addition to stocking the front of the store, Leatherman is also available to create custom cakes and treats for weddings or other events.

The sugar artist said she can create anything customers imagine, from burgers and ice cream cones to fairy gardens.

"Stuff with fondant is like Play-Doh to me," she laughed.

However, Leatherman's cakes are more than the outward appearance; they're also about the emotions they invoke.

The baker said one of her favorite cakes was a recent creation for a 75th wedding anniversary party, which was a surprise for the couple. One of their children brought Leatherman a photo of the original wedding cake, a 4-foot-tall cake with intricate buttercream frosting.

Leatherman said she spent more than 18 hours recreating the original cake, which was covered in delicate edible lace and chandeliers, but it was all worth it when she wheeled the creation into the anniversary party.

"Seeing the reaction on their faces — well, she (the bride) started crying, because she remembered," Leatherman said.

Leatherman started her baking career creating cakes for birthday parties, and eventually, a friend convinced the baker to take her creations to the next level.

Leatherman attended culinary school, and mastered baking and cooking. She has run specialty cake shops out of her home in the past, but Sugar Stop is her first brick-and-mortar location.

Even though her family has only lived in Mason County for less than a year, Leatherman said she's excited to get involved.

"We're really excited to be here and be a part of this community," she said.

For more information, visit, or call the shop at 358-8690.

Copyright 2016 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: June 16, 2016

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