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Meet Mary Graham of Canvas&Cake in Gilbert

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Graham.

Mary, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
This is my first year as an empty nester! I’m in Arizona and my children both live across the country in New York. This has allowed me plenty of time to focus on my baking. I’ve been baking since childhood and started a business about 15 years ago. My new found time has allowed me to introduce my baking on social media and participate in the local farmers market. I make candy, cookies, cupcakes and cakes; all custom orders made from scratch. I come from a baking family where my grandmother baked, my mom and my five sisters. The “canvas” in canvas and cake has come to mean the hand drawn buttercream decorations that I use on my cakes. Though canvas also explains my former business of painting in watercolor, acrylic and oil for homes and offices. I love being creative in multiple ways and right now Cake is my creative outlet. I enjoy sweets so this is a dangerous territory, but it’s worth it! Let’s Bake the world a better place and since life is uncertain; we should eat dessert first!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Getting into baking full time seemed like a natural transition for me. Moving from the east coast where I was born in Ohio and raised my kids in Virginia and Maryland it takes some time to figure out the state to state trends. Depending on the area, there may or may not be many bakeries. It’s good to know what’s available before you decide what you offer. The other thing that differs in not just each state, but in each county, is the licensing and permits. It’s important to be just as organized on the business side and be compliant, as it is to stay creative and innovative.

Please tell us about your business.
I make all types of baked goods. I enjoy making the theme birthday cakes for kids. I take custom orders for candy, cookies, cupcakes and cake for special occasions or no occasion at all. I bring lots of cupcakes to the farmers market where I also supply samples, which helps the local area get a taste of my cake recipe. As beautiful as fondant can make a cake; I refuse to use it. This is the cake we’re talking about! The flavor is everything. I use buttercream frosting and what sets me apart is the attention to detail. I don’t use any stencils or transfers for cookies and cakes, just free hand drawing with icing or frosting. People appreciate that it tastes and looks great and that every bit of it is edible.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My mom created my sugar addiction. I know she meant no harm, but I’m a cookie monster because of her. Growing up with five sisters and three brothers; she always kept cookies in the cookie jar. They didn’t last as long as they would in most households, but I found myself doing the same for my kids while they were growing up. If you can see the bottom of the jar; it’s time to start baking.

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