Dana Myers knew she wanted to be a baker ever since her mom gave her an Easy-Bake Oven and her grandmother taught her how to make pound cakes. She started out selling her sweets at hair salons. Now she owns Main Street Bakery, which got national attention when Hillary Clinton stopped by.
By Kasey Meredith
August 25, 2016
Sweet, nostalgic aromas greet you as soon as you open the door of Main Street Bakery. Maybe it’s the cinnamon rolls that smell just like your mom used to make, or the peach cobbler that makes you proud of your Southern roots.
The woman behind those smells, 35-year-old Dana Myers, has known she wanted to be a baker ever since she was little and learned how to make pound cakes from her grandmother.
But first she had to begin from scratch, just as she would make a cake. Myers worked five years at Blue Cross and Blue Shield until she saved enough to money to open her first store, 2nd Generations Bakery, in 2004 at Dutch Square Shopping Center and moved to the Boozer Shopping Center two years later.
But even before she had a storefront, she went from hair salon to hair salon, selling her red velvet cupcakes, coconut pies and sweet potato cakes.
“Ladies in hair salons love to eat. Anybody can do that,” Myers says. “If you have a good product, you go to the hair salons. You’ll make your money.”
In 2011, with the business growing Myers moved to Main Street in an old brick house between Earlewood Park and Beltline Boulevard, hoping to garner more traffic.
Main Street Bakery also got national attention in May 2015 when Hillary Clinton came in to buy cupcakes as she was beginning her presidential campaign. And now the business, has grown enough that Myers actually can count her eggs before they hatch: “Just today we’ve used about 20 dozen.”
Myers, who didn’t go to cooking or baking school, is at the bakery by 4 a.m. many days, but her days can start earlier.
“I’ve seen her up at 2 o’clock in the morning trying to perfect a cake recipe, and when someone is gonna stay up that late baking a cake over and over until it’s just right, you’re passionate about it,” says her mother, Rosa Daniels.
LaMorris Boyles, Myers’ cousin and co-worker at Blue Cross and Blue Shield, remembers Myers coming to work every day with different desserts for co-workers to try.
“She had that dream in her heart, and she would just not give up,” Boyles said.
Columbia Voice sat down with Myers to discuss baking, the bakery business, and her hopes and dreams. This excerpt has been edited for length and clarity.
So just tell me a little bit about how you started baking?
It was the Easy-Bake Oven that my mom gave me when I was a child, and my grandmother and my mom they all did baking. And so the interest was there at a very young age. I’ve always liked it and at cookouts and birthdays and things like that I would always make the cakes or cookies and look at recipes and things like that. So when the chance came to be able to finally do a bakery, we went into it, me and my family. …
Can you tell me a little bit about the journey to start up the bakery? …
I always knew that if it was going to happen, it was going to be something I would save up for. And so when I went into the jobs that I worked at, I always signed up for a 401(k) because it was in the back of my mind. I knew you could take out a loan against it, and so my idea was that I would … use that to start whatever I was going to do. …
So I know you mentioned that starting at home, did you start at home first?
Oh yeah, I did. It was like one of those things, you know like the hair salons. Everybody always likes to eat at the hair salons. So I would do cinnamon rolls and cookies and slices of cake and take them into the hair salons and sell them by the slice. And people started looking for me on Saturdays and stuff like that. …
Has being an entrepreneur and starting it from the beginning, all you, all your family, has that made it worthwhile and how so?
Yeah it’s made it worthwhile. I would say that even though we didn’t have the traditional financing, we also have a little bit more freedom. We don’t have someone looking over our shoulder saying you gotta do this or that. I would say the stress of having to make a quota because we have to pay back somebody else wasn’t there, so we were able to do things a little bit differently because of that. …
But do you get stressed out? …
Yes, I’ve gotten stressed out. I think recently because I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I want everything right, everything right, everything good. My cakes, I don’t want them dry. You know, if they stay in the oven a minute or two too long they can be dry, and I’m like “Oh no.” So I had to learn to let that go because nothing’s ever gonna be perfect. And so you can do the best you can … and if something goes wrong, you have to just address it. That was a hard thing for me to learn. I think I’ve maybe learned it, in the 10 years that we’ve been doing it, maybe in the last two.
Then how do you pick up yourself up; what psychologically drives you to keep going? …
I just love what I do. … Because it’s been ingrained in me since I was a baby, well child, it’s just something that I’ve loved. It’s like one of those things that people have hobbies or have loves or have passions as they like to say, the baking is my passion. And that is at the core. You can’t do this job because it’s very labor intensive, and I think I’ve learned the meaning of back-breaking work. …
Can you talk a little bit about Hillary Clinton coming here?
That is so funny because that was one of the days that the bakery’s air conditioning unit went out. And so it’s one of the hottest days, the ovens were going full blast. … They came in and said, “Is it OK if Mrs. Clinton comes by?” And we said sure. And you know, said when, and they said “about 20 minutes.”… We were trying to restock the shelves so it looked kind of full, and then before we knew it, we had 25 reporters behind the counter. …
What was she like?
She was very nice. I was very impressed with her. She gives me the impression, I guess, some of the Southern moms that we grew up with, you know they’re very kind, but when it’s time for things to get done they get it done. …
If Main Street Bakery was a pie and it took out a slice of your life, how much of a slice is it taking out?
Oh my gosh, let’s say 80 percent. … And that’s probably low, but being self-employed, it’s more than a full-time job. I would say it’s two full‑time jobs. You’re always thinking about something, it’s always on your mind, you’re always doing something for the business for the next day or in advance. So I would say 85 percent. I would say it’s hard to do without a good support system. … Your family has to be on board with you.