Zoe Stallings, a University of Cincinnati alumna who majored in neuropsychology, has found self-care in starting her own baking business, Sweets by Cené.
As soon as Stallings was old enough to cook in the kitchen, she knew that she had a connection with baking. As she grew up, this connection was nurtured through her family’s tradition of baking cookies every Christmas.
Eventually, Stallings’ family tradition would evolve into a positive outlet where she could express her love not only for her family and friends, but herself as well.
“Baking for me is love and self-care,” Stallings said. “One thing I’ve had a problem with is [that] I fill other people’s cups before I fill my own.” By baking, Stallings has found a healthy balance of providing herself with the same energy she is gives others.
Even when business is hectic, baking from the heart provides Stallings a sense of tranquility in a world full of chaos. She enjoys being able to combine her self-care time while working.
“It feels good to get paid for it now when looking back almost 20 Christmases ago, I was just doing it because my family liked oatmeal cookies,” she said.
Her baking business originally started as a pandemic project in the summer of 2020.
When coming up with a brand name, she wanted something that would set her apart from other businesses. Stallings said she decided to use her unique middle name, Cené (pronounced sin-yay) because not many other businesses are likely to pop up during an internet search.
“I might as well just use what was created for me — [my middle name] — to show people what I can create with my hands.” As a result, the name Sweets by Cené was born.
She was inspired by her family and colleagues at the Student Wellness Center to put her business into action. At first, Stallings didn’t realize how capable she was of starting her own business, but her colleagues and friends from the Student Wellness Center knew that she needed to go beyond just bringing in baked goods to share at work.
As an extra push to start Sweets by Cené, her coworkers awarded her most likely to be an entrepreneur.
Starting a business can be challenging, especially in a pandemic, but Stallings is elated to have an abundance of friends and family supporting her. “People believe in me and believe in my product,” she said.
Even though Stallings has confidence that her business would have started regardless of COVID-19, she agrees that the pandemic has caused her to slow down and focus solely on her business instead of having her usual schedule with multiple jobs at a time.
“It probably would have taken me a lot longer had I not stopped and listened to my support group and also stopped and listened to what I wanted for myself,” she said.
Due to the pandemic, Stallings makes the safety and care of her customers her main priority. Her everyday routine consists of frequent hand washing, sanitizing her equipment, wearing up to three hairnets, plastic gloves, a PPE certified face mask and an apron.
In the future, she hopes to combine baking with mental health. When she becomes a mental health counselor, she would love for her patients to have access to baking during therapy sessions.
To purchase one of Stallings desserts, visit Sweets by Cené.