Kara Hammett gives her local picks

Kara Hammett traces her career in cake designing and decorating back to the former West Point Market in Akron. Hammett, a 1993 Akron Buchtel High School graduate, had worked at West Point Market while she was attending the University of Akron to become a school teacher.

Kara Hammett traces her career in cake designing and decorating back to the former West Point Market in Akron. 

Hammett, a 1993 Akron Buchtel High School graduate, had worked at West Point Market while she was attending the University of Akron to become a school teacher. She left the market for nearly a decade to raise her three boys—Dylan Foster, now 21, Ronald Foster, 17, and Nolan Foster, 14. She returned to West Point Market in 2007 after her then-husband was laid off from his job.

“They put me in the bakery,” she recalls. “I was a supervisor there, and my boss said, ‘We need some help decorating cookies. You want to try?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll try.’ She told me years later that, ‘I saw something that I wanted to help you cultivate.’ ”

Hammett quickly found her love of the arts, particularly pottery, served as a good foundation for cake decorating.

“The turntable for the cake is similar to the turntable for the potter’s wheel,” Hammett said. “The movements and gestures and coordination were already there. So it was an easy transition for me to do cakes.” 

By 2009, Hammett said she was “sucked in” and committed to making cake decorating her career. 

“I love to cook and I love food, so being able to do edible art was incredible,” she said.

West Point Market also is where Hammett met her best friend, Brittany Bergquist. Bergquist started working at West Point Market’s bakery in 2011.

“She’s the most talented baker I’ve ever met,” Hammett said.

When West Point Market’s West Market Street location closed in 2015, Hammett and Bergquist went to work at different bakeries but still remained close friends.

It was Hammett who approached Bergquist about opening their own bakery. 

“There’s no way I could open a bakery without you,” Hammett recalls telling Bergquist.

Bergquist was reluctant but eventually warmed to the idea that they could create something no one else was offering.

They first searched for a location in the Akron area, but none of the locations were ideal or were too expensive.

Hammett, who had moved to Jackson Township in 2016 to be closer to her then-husband’s job, spotted the former Karma Café location at 4339 Dressler Road NW while driving around the area to familiarize herself.

“I remember passing the coffee shop and thought, ‘Oh my gosh,’ ” Hammett recalled. “We knew we wanted an open concept bakery. It had all these windows, and it was a huge open space. I said, ‘Brittany, this is perfect.’ ”

They opened Studio Bakery on September 5, 2018, offering made-from-scratch cookies, cakes, cupcakes and other sweets using all of their own recipes.

Hammett says one way to easily spot a Studio Bakery treat is by its flowers. 

“Most cake decorators, like artists in general, they have a style,” she said. “… The flowers are (my) signature. The way they are on the cake and on the cake board.”

She uses a technique she picked up from another bakery and altered to fit her style. Hammett hopes to add the very challenging gum paste flowers to her repertoire soon.

Hammett’s Local Favorites:

Most memorable spot:
Canton Museum of Art. “I was able to go to the exhibit about working moms (Crowns: Crossing into Motherhood). It moved me. They talked about motherhood and balancing being artists and being mothers. I just resonated with it. I’m a mother of three boys, and finding yourself and keeping yourself when you transition into motherhood is very difficult. I was crying because it hit me in a way that nobody really talks about.”

Favorite place to shop locally: 
Anew Room. “It’s a really cool spot. We bought a house here this year, and we purchased pictures and some furniture from there. I got a really cool piece of art from a Jackson High School student from there. They have some very unusual things because they come from people’s homes. You’re not going to find the same thing twice when you go there.”

Favorite lunch spot:
The Twisted Olive. “It’s pretty there. The dining rooms are nice, and the service is always really good and the food is really good. The grounds are beautiful.”

Favorite coffee shop:
Muggswigz. “Before I moved to Canton, I would drive a half-hour from Akron to Muggswigz. … A lot of people in my family love coffee and always are on the hunt for local coffee spots. I met (my aunt) there one Sunday and I was hooked.” Studio Bakery carries Muggswigz coffee.

Favorite local restaurant:
Lucca Downtown. “It’s a really quaint restaurant. It’s not a chain restaurant. I like to go to places where you are supporting local businesses, and the food is really, really good.”

Favorite thing to do:
Pottery. “I did it for years, and then had kids. I just picked it up again a couple of months ago. I got a potter’s wheel, and it’s come back to me.”

Favorite place to shop local for gifts:
Ohio Tea Co. “I like giving people tea. They have so many varieties. I will get a couple of ounces of five or six different teas and get these little teacups to go with them and the little accessories. They have all that there.”

Favorite spot to grab a drink:
Royal Docks Brewing for beer and Vinoteca Wine Bar for wine. “(Royal Docks) is super chill, and I love the outdoor sitting area. … At Vinoteca, Sash, the owner, knows so much about wine … and everyone who goes to Vinoteca knows each other, so it’s like a family. It’s a hidden spot in Canton.”

Most admired local CEO or business owner:
Laura Woofter at Paper Twigs. “We have worked with them and sent a lot of referrals to them. Their work is amazing. Their attention to detail is just incredible. They have a very unique style. It’s not a cookie-cutter florist style; it’s very unique and very artistic. They are artists in what they do.”