Photo credit C. Vaughn
Do You believe in happy endings, Natalie DuBose sure does. Over a year after teenagers destroyed the windows of the store, DuBose business has been better than ever. Now she is even has her famous cakes in Starbucks.
November of 2014 was a difficult time, for the small business owners of Ferguson, Missouri. 18 buildings had been completely destroyed, and many others had extensive damage. Natalie’s Cakes and More,was one of those stores. Sales had already began to decline because of the turmoil in Ferguson, but when Natalie DuBose store windows had been destroyed by teenagers with a steel chair, that seemed to be a breaking point.
Now over a year later, DuBose cake store is doing better than ever, and it all started with a photo. A photographer, captured her reaction to the site of her store in shambles. Soon after, the picture went viral and DuBose received hundreds donations from around the country.
Many people began helping DuBose by buying her cakes. One of those people in particular just happen to share her treats on a plane with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. DuBose said a lady would just come by checking to see if she was okay.
“A lady that worked in Starbucks came by just checking on me”, DuBose said. “She would check on me every week, and each time she came, she brought one of her colleges she worked with. And somehow she ordered a cake for a friend of hers, and that cake was able to get on a plane with Howard Schultz.”
From that point, Starbuck’s set up a series of meetings with DuBose. She first met with the vice- president of the North American region of Starbucks. After that meeting, DuBose had another meeting with a different Starbucks executive. After a third and fourth meeting, DuBose was asked about selling her cakes in Starbucks.
“It wasn’t like one contact”, DuBose said. “I had many meetings with several people and it kind of came after that fourth meeting. Cause a lot of people think there’s a certain person you call, it was no one that I called, they were just coming in to check like every other person that heard about Ferguson.”
DuBose was already receiving thousands of donations to help repair her store. On November 25, of 2014, DuBose started two Go Fund Me accounts, and in less than 24 hours, she raised $100,000 in donations. Which should be no surprise, when you consider that Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle star Patricia Heaton, personally tweeted out the Go Fund Me account, urging followers to donate.
The Go Fund Me accounts received a total of $280,000 and business is still booming for DeBose. DuBose is a divorced single mother who raised two children, can’t explain her good fortune.
“I get a lot of people asking me now, what is it that you have to do to get a Starbucks?”, DuBose said. “ I don’t know, like all the opportunities that have come my way. Not only are my cakes in Starbuck but my cakes are in the Washington University campus. I sell my cakes to Schnucks grocery store… it wasn’t like I knew that magic question…these types of opportunities start falling in a domino effect.”
The Ferguson Starbucks is one of five locations that Starbucks is planning to open as part of an initiative, to bring down unemployment among youths in urban areas.
DuBose has seen her staff grow as well, going from a staff of three people to thirteen. She also has become a public speaker, speaking at entrepreneurship class at Lindenwood University and to children at schools.
“All of these people, I didn’t reach out too”, DuBose said. “Someone from that group, that cooperation, they just knew somebody, and they were genuinely checking. I still get questions, I still get calls, letters, and cards, twitter inboxes.”
DuBose calls are people still checking up on her, making sure she is doing okay.
“I’m so in love with the people of this country”, DuBose said. “In this country, out this country, I don’t even know what to do. Because of their generosity, and genuine concern for people.
Its because of the people that have reached out that she can now live out her lifelong dreams, of baking goods for people. DuBose was baking while she was raising her kids, calling it therapeutic.
“What ever you are passionate about, do that”, DuBose said. “Whatever it is you want to do, no matter what opposition you face. Not only did I find my passion, but I’m able to live out my passion everyday. Whatever it is you want to do, keep doing it. What’s for you is for you, can’t no one else have what’s for you. ”