Gahanna baker's stress relief turns into fulfilling business with Fate Cakes

MARLA K. KUHLMAN
mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com
Fate Cakes owner Marie Johns holds a chocolate cake topped with crushed Oreo cookies and large peanut butter-and-chocolate buckeyes at her new storefront, 1360 Cherry Bottom Road in northeast Columbus.

What started as a side job to relieve stress when she was living in a Westerville apartment eight years ago has evolved into a full-time business for Gahanna resident Marie Johns, owner of Fate Cakes.

Johns, 33, has delivered her homemade cakes, cupcakes and other baked goods for years, but she wanted to separate her personal life from work by opening a storefront at 1360 Cherry Bottom Road in northeast Columbus, she said.

A grand opening for the business, which will maintain its delivery service for central Ohio, will be held Friday and Saturday, Sept. 4 and Sept. 5.

The 2005 Whetstone High School and 2009 Ohio University alumna had planned to use her bachelor's degree in informational-graphics-publication design, but the Great Recession altered that path.

Johns, who grew up in Clintonville, said she put her artistic skills to work in her apartment kitchen, making custom-designed treats.

"I've always baked," she said. "I've always had that passion. It was a stress reliever and still is. Every day I wake up and love what I do. Now it's a different level of stress."

She also had started a blog, Fate Cakes, in 2010.

"A friend said, 'You need stress relief,' " Johns said. "Blogging was big then."

She would post recipes, and mothers of Ohio State University students would ask her how much she charged for the items she wrote about.

So Johns started delivering her baked goods before work and to Ohio State dormitories in the evening after work.

She said she covered the cost of her bills in two weeks by selling her products when she was in her 20s.

"It escalated from there," Johns said. "During the school year, 25% of our non-large orders are from OSU parents. We've been delivering our products for eight years."

Everything has been done from her residence until now.

"The storefront is to have my own personal space," Johns said. "Employees have been in my home. This has been a full-time job since 2012. It was impossible for me to wear all the hats."

Since she started the business, she has married Iain Johns, and they have a 5-year-old daughter.

She said the storefront is close to their residence in Gahanna, where they have lived since 2017.

Johns said her cupcakes have been the biggest seller from the beginning.

She is responding to what customers like, with large peanut butter-and-chocolate buckeyes and large cookies being especially popular.

"If it sells well, we will have it in stock," Johns said.

Her employees at the new storefront include Devon Bokeno and Sam Hensley.

Bokeno, who grew up in Fairfield, is the new baker and pastry chef.

She attended Ohio State to study animal science then changed direction and received an associate degree in baking and pastry arts from the Culinary Institute of Michigan.

Hensley, a 2019 Dublin Coffman High School graduate, works in customer service for Fate Cakes.

She is pursuing an associate degree in psychology at Otterbein University.

Meanwhile, Johns said, there is no hidden meaning to the name of her business.

She said people who know her might think it is connected to her middle name, Faye, but it is not.

"I would like to say it's fate it worked out," Johns said. "Fate Cakes has been the blog. This was never going to become a full-time job. This has been the plan B."

Fate Cakes delivers throughout central Ohio, extending 5 miles outside Interstate 270.

Store hours are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

For more information, go to facebook.com/FateCakes.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla