Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Friends and Neighbors: Tessa Shaw, from baking in grandma's kitchen to her own side business


Tonia Copeland

Tessa Shaw, above, shows off the chocolate covered bacon she made last week. Shaw, 19, bakes as a side business known as Tessa's Treats.

Good things happen in grandma's kitchen.

Tessa Shaw, a native of Kimball, grew up watching her grandmother bake and decorate cakes for others.

"She taught classes at WNCC and here in Kimball," Shaw said. "I was around her a lot so I learned from her."

Shaw, now nearly 20, said she does not know yet what she wants to do. However, until she figures it out, she is baking and decorating just like her grandma once did.

"I enjoyed it, but it wasn't until after she passed away that people would ask me to make them a cake," Shaw said.

After her high school graduation, Shaw originally planned to get a degree in biology for future use in a medical field. She went to college on a livestock judging scholarship in Casper, Wyo. She then decided to look into agriculture business and even considered teaching agriculture, so she is currently studying at Laramie County Community College.

In her spare time, Shaw has started Tessa's Treats, a business whose beginnings can be traced all the way back to her grandma's kitchen. She began building her business before she graduated high school, making treats for friends and family members at home.

"I'm not 100 percent sure what I want to do I guess," Shaw said. "I don't know that anybody does, but no matter what I do, I would probably still make cakes and stuff, like my grandma."

Baking cakes, cookies and cupcakes is enjoyable for Shaw, but she said she really likes to blend recipes experiment with fun treats.

"I like to do a lot more of the crafty ideas that people like for little kids' birthdays," Shaw said. "I did chocolate covered Peeps for Easter. I like to play with the artsy side of things."

Shaw likes doing treats on a stick, such as layered crisp rice treats, and she takes advanced orders for candy bouquets and other desserts as well.

Though she has had to say no to some jobs, Shaw said she is a planner by nature and she takes care not to overbook if possible.

"It's kind of a part-time thing, so its can be hard to find time to do all of it," Shaw said.

Despite the time crunch Shaw sometimes faces, she does not call on family to help much.

"Mostly, it's just, 'Can you go to the store and pick up two bags of powdered sugar,'" she said.

Shaw stepped into running her own business with some ease, and she said that spending a lot of time at her mother's animal clinic taught her much of what was needed to run a business, including planning, billing and even ordering.

She credits her business acumen not only to growing up inside her mom's business, but also the local FFA program.

"When I was still in high school, through FFA we had to do Supervised Agriculture Experiences, so we (Shaw and her brother Tyler) got a feed dealership," Shaw said. "While I was in high school we sold feed. My mom helped us, but we had order the feed, call people when their feed was in, and we also called people we thought might want to buy feed. That helped me a lot. FFA taught me a lot about leadership."

Though she said she is unsure where her future may lead, staying in Kimball to build her business is not unthinkable for Shaw.

She does like this area, despite the cold, but she has also seen how hard restaurants and food related businesses are received in Kimball.

"I would probably stay somewhere in the region," Shaw said. "If that was my chosen path I would definitely try to start something here."

Shaw stated that she would love to see Kimball grow as a community, and being a part of that is something she has considered.

"I think Kimball has the opportunity to grow, it needs something to draw people in and businesses that are thriving," she said. "If I had a store where I was doing it and I had people to help me it would be a lot easier. I have thought about it. Maybe someday, not now."


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