Washington, D.C.’s Shani Whisonant is one attorney who used her talents and grit to transition her knowledge about employment and corporate law into a successful baking business. So, why would an attorney become a full-time baker? Surprisingly, it all started accidentally one evening at her daughter’s preschool.
“I started baking after my first child was born. In 2014 she was in preschool, and I as usual, was the last parent to come pick her up one day. I saw the sign-up sheet outside of the classroom, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what is this?’” Whisonant tells.
“They were looking for parents to contribute to a classroom activity that they were doing, which was decorating sugar cookies in the shapes of letters to help the kids with their letter recall, and because I was last, all the other kid’s parents had gotten there before me, and they were able to sign-up for cups, napkins, plates, and all the other things except for the cookies, and I was like, ‘Oh, no!’”
Despite her shock and fear, Whisonant agreed to the baking project, and although it was an overwhelming task that took her all night, she was successful, and her daughter was able to proudly walk into school with two gigantic plastic containers of cookies.
Learning to Bake Begins with Butter
Interestingly, Whisonant comes from a family with southern roots where baking is customary. However, growing up was challenging because she was a disaster when it came to baking. So much so that her family gave up on trying to teach her after some time.
“Like on the savory side of the house, I was good, but on the baking side of the house I was a misfit.” However, after baking for her daughter’s preschool project, Whisonant knew she could thrive and began to put in the work to overcome all self-doubt.
“I just dove into baking textbooks, and I realized that what I needed was one consistent resource, and that was Bo Friberg, author of ‘The Professional Pastry Chef,’ and that is how I learned about so many baking techniques and it got much easier.”
Leaving Law and the Home Baking Academy
For 15 years, Whisonant was an effective and successful attorney. However, after perfecting baking and building a side business, the time came to say goodbye to practicing law. Whisonant shares, “I stayed in that career because I thought it was what I was supposed to do, but the longer I stayed in that career, the clearer it became that I wasn’t really meant to be in that career. I didn’t know for a long time what the exit strategy was and then the pieces started to come together with the baking.”
As time continued, more and more friends and colleagues began to bring all their baking questions and experiences to Whisonant, searching for reliable guidance. This became more than just giving sound advice, it was teaching, and it was the start of the Begin with Butter blog, which compiled baking recipes and tips at its early conception. Now Begin with Butter also includes the Begin with Butter Home Baking Academy.
“The whole premise of Begin with Butter is baking education. It is not just grabbing recipes. There is actually a hope that even if you do and grab say, my eggnog pound cake recipe, that you’ll get something out of it that will make you into a better baker, a more confident one, a more consistent one, and that is the central premise of Begin with Butter. I want to leave people better than I found them,” says the Chief Butter Ambassador.
The Begin with Butter Home Baking Academy online offers all kinds of classes and is designed for bakers on all levels. Some of the courses offered include a pound cake class, a pie class, a class on cookies, finishing touches, and there is even a two-day bread boot camp.
Recently, Whisonant started her Creative Cakes (And More!) cohorts for aspiring baking professionals, whether they aspire to be bloggers, cottage bakery owners or small bakery owners. In her cohorts set to start on February 10, people can learn how to create their very own cake recipes, and they can also learn the business fundamentals that can make their baking business stand out.
“Once you know how to make your own recipes, you will get the fundamental business foundation to be able to set up your business to be able to come out ready to compete. I’m really excited about the cohort because it is for the people who are so intent on being successful in 2023!”
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Sign up for these upcoming courses today at course.beginwithbutter.com. For information about Creative Cakes (And More!), email Whisonant at email@example.com.
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