Tava Lynnette

Dawn Cauthen-Thornton | November 14th, 2018
Tava Lynnette (Photos by JLG Photography)

Tava Lynnette (Photos by JLG Photography)

Most people can recall who makes a particular dish the best within their family. In mine, my mother and her twin sister innocently compete with each other on who makes the best sweet potato pie during the holidays, so the children anticipate an overload of the treat every year. The verdict is still out on who takes home the trophy. Now, the children and grandchildren mimic what they’ve absorbed in the kitchen with the dessert and other popular foods. They’ve watched eggs crack for desserts, heaps of cheese sprinkled on macaroni, and oversized spoons stir steaming vegetables.

With a perfect southern drawl, Tava (pronounced Tah-vuh) Lynette beams when revealing how she was introduced to the kitchen. “I always baked with my grandmother when I was little. She had to entertain us so that’s kind of what we did.” All the grandchildren would gather around the kitchen and watch their grandmother mix ingredients together and would reap the benefits of her hard work later. Her kitchen was like a culinary school for kids and she allowed hands-on training.

Just this past January Tava decided to share a batch of cupcakes with her coworkers that she casually baked at home. Within minutes they had all been devoured. Then she brought another batch, and another. After so many freebies, her longtime boyfriend asked her why she was simply ‘giving’ them away when she could sell them. Making money from batter and buttercream had never crossed her mind, but Tava knew her love was on to something.

It didn’t take long for Tava to apply for her business license, though it took months to receive it. Since she opted to use her personal kitchen for baking, the state health department inspected and approved the space to be used. In the summer of 2018 she officially began taking orders for ‘Insatiable Sweets by TLC’, a nod to the late icon, Prince. I put a bug in her ear to consider creating some sort of Prince–inspired dessert. She celebrated the opening with a cupcake-tasting party.

As the business rapidly expanded, Tava enrolled in classes to enhance her craft and build on her God-given, grandmother-grown talent. Years earlier she graduated from Guilford College and her business degree has helped with keeping the books and marketing. “I never thought I’d be a baker and neither did my family,” says Tava. They’ve been her biggest supporters, however, alongside her dedicated partner. They all hand out business cards and her boyfriend accompanies her on certain jobs, makes deliveries, and acts as her security when needed.

The Mebane native has only been open a few months and has already noticed orders steadily increasing. Considering she works in the healthcare industry full-time, that only leaves evenings and weekends to fulfill orders. Her largest order, to date, has been 100 cupcakes for vacation bible school this summer. “It’s all about time management. Make sure you plan your orders. I may bake and let the cakes cool one day, then apply icing and decorate the next,” explains Tava. Since taking a decorating course, she’s seen a decline in customers requesting extravagant cakes that call for fondant. It was all the rage a few years ago due to its pliability, but it lacks in taste.

Her most popular flavors are champagne and strawberry, both with buttercream icing. To stay connected and pay homage to her late grandmother, Tava makes sure German chocolate, chocolate, and southern staple, pound cake, always have a place on the menu.

During family gatherings, the same cousins that helped her grandmother in the kitchen alongside Tava as children, each have adopted a dish to serve from her personal menu. “One cousin will make the meatloaf, someone else will make her pies. It’s just like the movie ‘Soul Food’,” Tava laughs. She confesses to garnering frowns if she walks through the door without one of her sought-after desserts. But since she bakes almost every weekend, she feels she’s earned the right to take a break occasionally.

Breaks don’t last long when you have a new business to breed. It’s typically the first priority, behind family and faith. Nevertheless, Tava is strategic in making her decisions. Taking on too much responsibility, too soon, often consumes her thoughts. She’s bypassing the idea of a storefront when most entrepreneurs would jump at the chance. Having a physical location adds unwanted overhead costs and time away from home. She’s currently exploring the possibility of collaborating with other business owners with similar interests that are housed under one roof. With her busy schedule, she needs flexibility. She also has her eyes peeled for any upcoming vendor fairs she can attend to showcase her sweets.

She knows first-hand that using one space to work and live can be challenging, but Tava jokes that she rarely uses her kitchen to cook her own meals so it’s not that difficult. A baker who doesn’t cook much? How ironic. Nevertheless, clients keep her calendar full. Her schedule will most likely surge during the holidays, so if you’re expecting a dozen of something insatiable, you may want to make your move now

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