Shacole Henderson is a trailblazer and pioneer for both African-Americans and women of Louisville KY. At just 25 years of age she has become Louisville’s youngest Black bakery owner.
Coco’s Cakes is located at 501 West Oak Street in Louisville and operates,Tues-Sat, from 7am-6pm. The menu consists of cakes (sheet & specialty), cheesecakes, turnovers, donuts and much more.
Although amazing, this feat did not come overnight. Henderson persevered through sacrifice and frustration for over five years to make her dream a reality. A strong family support system and her utilization of a city sponsored small business program, ultimately allowed her to open Coco’s Cakes.
Henderson is a graduate of Central High School and is a product of the city’s predominately black West End. Initially she enrolled in college with aspirations of becoming a fashion designer but that quickly changed after she became employed at a local Kroger grocery store.
“I wanted to be a cashier but my friend who was a baker asked me to come to the kitchen to be a cake decorator. I wasn’t going to go because I had never decorated cakes before but my friend said, ‘Girl you can do it…You know how to draw so you’ll be okay plus you get paid more if you are a cake decorator’, so I said okay…Two weeks into it, I fell in love.” – Shacole Henderson
Henderson’s grandfather, Claude Mitchell, is a retired culinary chef so she immediately contacted him to obtain any useful advice about decorating cakes. “I went to my granddaddy and he started showing me how to pipe borders and make roses,” said Henderson.
She quickly earned a reputation as the top cake designer at her Kroger location and began posting pictures of her cakes on her Facebook page for fun. Immediately she began receiving requests for her services from her friends but she politely referred them to the Kroger bakery that she was employed at.
Henderson’s defining moment came when her father asked her to bake a cake for her mother’s 45th birthday party. Based on the party’s Luau theme, she created an amazing cake equipped with handmade coconut cups, handmade umbrellas, a tiki bar and benches.
“I made the cake and posted it on Facebook and got 100 and something likes on it…I took my next paycheck and brought cake pans and all kinds of other stuff. I went to my granddaddy and told him that people wanted me to make cakes for them and he told me to take whatever jobs I can but not to overwhelm myself.” – Shacole Henderson
Henderson remained employed at Kroger but began baking cakes at home as a source of additional income. Her grandfather assisted by teaching her techniques and educating her about pricing scales.
After six months of selling cakes from home she expressed to her grandfather that she wanted to open her own bakery. Unfortunately, income restraints prevented that from becoming a reality until three years later.
In 2014, a friend informed her about a Micro Enterprises program sponsored by the city of Louisville, which provides loans for aspiring business owners.
“I called and set up an appointment. I went through eight weeks of business classes. I had to write out a business plan, I went through money management courses in which they showed me how to design my own logo and touched base on a lot of areas of business.” – Shacole Henderson
After completing the program, Henderson was given a $5,000 low interest loan which allowed her to rent a storefront, pay for insurance and licencing fees, and buy a few pieces of necessary equipment to get her business started.
Initially the storefront was only used to prepare cakes and not as a full service bakery. Prior to opening day Henderson and her grandfather discussed potential names for the bakery.
“I wanted to name it something real fancy because I was in French class at the time but he [Granddaddy] said, ‘You don’t need anything fancy, just keep it real simple. Everybody knows you as Coco, so just call it Coco’s Cakes.'” – Shacole Henderson
Henderson paid back the $5,000 loan on-time and early so she qualified for a $15,000 low interest loan. With that capital she was able to completely furnish and equip her establishment as a full service bakery.
The Grand Opening of Coco’s Cake was on May 23, 2015, and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer was in attendance for the ribbon cutting.
Henderson set up booths at the Grand Opening ceremony for local black business owners to display their products and services.
Additionally, Coco’s Cakes currently has a designated display counter to showcase business cards and brochures for local business owners. When speaking of the future of Coco’s Cakes.
“We want to eventually open a second location…We plan on staying family based…We are focused on renting out the space for parties in the near future and would like to have an open mic night.” – Shacole Henderson
Visit Coco’s Cakes for all your bakery needs at 501 West Oak Street, Louisville, KY 40203. Or call (502) 836-1707. Follow Cocos Cakes on Facebook and Instagram or access the website at http://www.cocos-cakes.weebly.com/