Hailey Smith might not consider herself artistic, but quite a few visitors to her custom bakery in downtown Janesville are quick to disagree.
Smith, the owner of Hailey’s Sweet and Treats, 20 S. Main St., Suite 1, admits to having no drawing ability at all despite being able to create inventive, expressive cakes.
“I always find that funny,” she said.
A Janesville native and 2010 graduate of Craig High School, Smith is self-taught in the kitchen. However, her business sense comes from the University of Tampa in Florida, where she studied entrepreneurship and marketing.
Smith has won a handful of awards, including Outstanding Culinary Artist at the 2016 Janesville Area Creativity Awards, “Best of” awards from Wisconsin Bride magazine in 2018 and 2019, and Gazette Readers Choice awards in 2017, 2018 and 2020. Her shop’s specialty is custom wedding cakes, and Smith often offers sale of extra items on social media.
Away from the bakery, she spends time with her husband of one year, Zach, and the couple’s black Lab, Bella.
1. When did you first become interested in baking? In high school was when I first got interested. It truly was from watching baking shows and my sweet tooth!
2. Do you like sweets personally? If so, what is your all-time favorite treat? Sweets are life! Chocolate and peanut butter is my go-to, and I am definitely a cake girl.
3. When it comes to creating your sweets and treats, are you a planner or are you more spontaneous? A planner until I die. I love having a schedule, creating the ideas beforehand, and then I can be creative from there. If I don’t have an organized starting point, I feel lost.
4. At the grocery store, what item always goes in your cart whether you need it or not? Halo Top ice cream. It goes great with cake.
5. Your creations were named “Best Wedding Desserts” and you were a finalist for “Best Cake” in Wisconsin Bride magazine’s “Best of 2020” contest. Were you surprised? I’m always surprised since I am just a “one-man band” compared to a lot of bakeries in the bigger cities. It is so awesome the support this community has for small local businesses.
6. Is there a popular cake flavor you don’t personally care for? I am not a big red velvet fan. I feel like you either love it or hate it. Or anything with coconut. Nooooo thanks.
7. Name the one item you own that you could not live without. Sadly, my phone. It’s easy to connect socially and with work.
8. If you didn’t own a bake shop, what would you likely be doing for a living? Probably a wedding planner. I did a lot of wedding planning internships before I started baking. I love the design and creative side of things, hence why I said I was a planner before. I got to do that for my own wedding, and it was fun to be able to pick out every little detail.
9. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? Australia. It seems like a fun, laid-back place to go with a lot of things to see and explore.
10. If you wrote your autobiography, what would be its title? “Cupcakes and Cardio.” Since I was 4, I was into competing in all different sports—even through college, where I ran cross country and track. Sports taught me how to be disciplined, win and lose, and dedication, which I carry over into owning the bakery.
11. What is your worst habit? I chew a lot of gum. It keeps me from eating all the sweets.
12. Share the details behind your funniest baking fail. I am going to call out my mom, who helps me at the bakery. She once thought the chocolate frosting was our chocolate cookies and tried to bake them. She was so confused about why they didn’t turn out.
13. Describe your typical day at work. Every day is a little different. I start with baking what I need for the day, make lots of frosting, start decorating cakes and do lots of dishes. Lots.
14. What is the hardest thing about being a professional baker? Being the owner and solo employee, it all falls onto my shoulders. I have to do the ordering, baking, decorating, etc. You name it, I have to do it.
15. What are some of your favorite ingredients with which to experiment? I love trying new flavor combos—putting together different fillings, cakes and frosting flavors to make things people wouldn’t think to put together.
16. Do you have any superstitions? I mean, not technically a superstition, but I have to triple check everything is off before I leave the bakery or home.
17. Some people bake as a hobby to alleviate stress from work. You bake for a living, so what do you do to alleviate stress? I love to work out, go for walks and get massages.
18. What has been the most unusual baking request you have ever received? I get a lot of crazy things that people see on Pinterest!
19. Name a chef/baker you look to for inspiration. Jenna Rae Cakes in Canada for the very trendy, pretty, clean products they do. Yolanda Gampp also does some crazy, cool stuff, and she can make anything out of cake. It’s impressive.
20. You’ve spent hours baking the finest cake you’ve ever created. You can share it with four people. Who are they, and why did you choose them? My grandparents, who passed away. They loved talking to me and seeing what I created. They would be so proud! Someone famous would be Luke Combs. Maybe I could sway him into making me his personal baker!