Camellia Bake Shop: Care and Love in Baking
Established in 2022, Camellia Bake Shop is the “first high-end café to provide the KW region with European inspired, allergy-friendly baked goods and incredible ethically-sourced coffee & tea”.
Owned and operated by Alisha Hudson, the cafe can be found in the same location of what used to be Timeless Cafe in Conestogo, Ontario – 305 Northfield Drive East.
Inspired to start her own cafe because of her love for baking, Alisha elaborated on the vacancy she found among other cafes in the region: “I found that nowhere in the region had a sit down kind of higher end European influenced cafe that served allergy friendly stuff”.
Having learned how to bake from her grandmother and mother, Alisha enjoyed being able to put her “energy and love” into something. She said that baking has the special ability to make people feel warm inside, showing them that you “care” and “love them” in a way that is fulfilling.
However, baking can be complicated when allergies come into play.
“A lot of the allergy-friendly bakeries had takeout and either you sacrifice on the food or you sacrifice on the coffee and I wanted to be able to offer people both and have a nice warm atmosphere where people can kind of gather with friends and family and whatnot and be able to enjoy pretty much whatever they want,” Alisha said.
With that goal in mind, Alisha set her sights on the former location of Timeless Cafe, somewhere she had been as a customer before its closing.
“I just love the character of the building”, Alisha gushed.
“It almost feels like you’re kind of in a little bubble outside of the city when in reality, Conestoga Mall is literally like less than three minutes down the road.”
As a woman in small business, it was difficult for Alicia to find a location that allowed her to start her cafe. While she originally looked at newer developments, she found many hurdles that were impossible to overcome: “I got turned down like a good three plus times because definitely there was that factor of “oh she’s a young woman, she is just kind of trying to play house, she’s not really serious with what she wants, she doesn’t really know what she’s talking about”.
This adverse reaction has continued on, many individuals are shocked to find a woman as the founder: “people tend to come in and ask for the owner and then I turn up and they’re like “oh, I asked for the owner.”. I’m like “yeah, that’s me!” and they’re like “oh, really?” and I’m like “Yep, yep!””.
Alisha has learned to take this in stride, also noting the power that comes with being a woman in business and the intentional steps she has taken when building a team for her cafe.
“There’s a lot of power behind being a woman in business and we definitely built our team specifically around, like, women and people of the LGBTQ+ community”.
Alisha advises other young women looking to start a small business to do research and not let rejection stop them:
“I definitely felt discouraged and honestly almost gave up a couple of times – there were times where I called my mom crying and being like “I don’t know if I can do this” but yeah I would say stay motivated and be knowledgeable on what you’re talking about”.
Women shouldn’t doubt their knowledge when it comes to their business interests and expertise, and being able to elaborate eloquently to business deniers is “kind of a good feeling”.
Looking to pick up a delicious baked good and coffee? You can find Alisha and Camellia Bake Shop at @camelliabakeshop on Instagram or https://camelliabakeshop.ca/.