This Q&A feature helps readers learn more about people working in the Mount Vernon business community. This week’s Q&A profiles owner, cake artist, and executive pastry chef Sabrina Campbell. The bakery has two locations: its flagship store in Mount Vernon and a at 207 King Street.
Like some business start-ups, Campbell’s cake career began as a hobby. Upon discovering more than six years ago that her good friend, Marcia Crandall, made cakes as well, they began an evening ritual of baking and decorating, which eventually led to the opening of the first Occasionally Cake location in the Mount Vernon community.
Sabrina, who has spent most of her life in Northern Virginia — she grew up in the Franconia area — has lived in the Mount Vernon community for 10 years.
Prior to working in the world of sweets and confections, Sabrina attended Ohio State University, where she studied music, flute and voice. She also studied communication and electronic media at George Washington University.
She is married and has two daughters, ages 3 and 6.
How did you become interested in your line of work?
Marcia and I had been baking and decorating cakes for several years. The business actually started out of my house. My husband is very entrepreneurial and after he realized we had a talent in ‘cakes,’ he started formulating a plan in his mind before he ever even said anything to me about owning a retail store. Eventually, the home business became bigger, and we outgrew the space we needed in my home. We quickly realized we needed to expand the business and move out. That led to the purchase and opening of the store.
What are your daily responsibilities?
Lately, I am primarily based out of our new Old Town location. I am there to open the store each day, and I try to stay for the first half of the day. I am lucky I have a trustworthy manager who takes over the second-half of the day. This allows me to try and get home for my girls when they return from school. The stores are closed on Mondays, and that helps me play catch up on emails and any ordering we need to do.
As a business owner with two young kids at home, how do you balance work and home life?
I have found that having a strong, trustworthy team at work gives me the ability to be able to come and go as a business owner. I purposefully always make sure I’m really well staffed…especially if my kids want me to help out at school, or so I can help chaperone a field trip. For me, balance is the most important thing. I wouldn’t be able to do all of this if I wasn’t able to find an important work-life balance. I always try to take things one-step at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed. And I always make home life a priority.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy making people happy. I love seeing people’s faces when they try our products. It’s nice to be able to help make their celebrations extra special. It gives me a chance to get really creative. I also enjoy giving back. Honestly, the thing that has made me most happy since opening the business has been all of the opportunities to give back to the community.
Where is your favorite place to go in the area?
I like to run in my neighborhood. It’s fun to discover all the different, little streets. I also like the George Washington Memorial Parkway trail.
What are your hobbies?
I actually have tons of hobbies. I am a musician. I love to take photographs, I think I have 60,000 pictures on my computer’s hard drive. I also am an avid reader.
What’s the last book you read?
Hell’s Kitchen, by Jeffery Deaver.
What’s on your iPod?
It’s an eclectic compilation of music, everything from classical to top 40 and 70's disco. I even have a little bit of rap music on there.
Do you have a favorite area restaurant?
The Cosmopolitan Grill.
Any hidden talents you’d like people to know about?
I speak Spanish and German. I love to act in musicals, and I like to scrapbook.
If you weren’t in this business, what would you be doing?
I would be a famous singer, or perform on Broadway … that was always my dream.