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Bringing Sweet Treats to Farmville

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Sweetly Southern Bakery and Wine owner Coleen Starling looks forward to bringing her sweet deserts to Farmville.

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By Jake Keator
The Farmville Enterprise

Monday, January 1, 2018

FARMVILLE — Farmville is home to numerous specialty shops, which provide the town its classic, cozy, small town feeling. Another business will soon be adding to that feeling with the addition of a bakery.

Coleen Starling is opening Sweetly Southern Bakery and Wine next year. Starling already owns Sweetly Southern in Greenville, and looks forward to becoming a part of the Farmville community, a place she calls home.

Starling found a love for baking at a young age as a child in Hays, Kansas, when she baked for her four siblings.

“I was probably about 10 or 11 years old, and I was making crème puffs for my siblings while my mom was at work in the summer during the day,” Starling said, adding she found her mother’s cookbooks to be “interesting.”

She brought her love of baking to her 4-H group, where she would bake to raise money for the organization.

“Back then, every girl took home economics. I was already bored with home economics because I was already cooking meals,” she said.

She combined her love for baking with her passion for drawing, which led to her beginning to design cakes.

“I was challenged by it,” Starling said,

As she grew older, she went to work for grocery stores in their bakery departments. Starling worked with Harris Teeter, Lowe’s Foods and Edible Art in Raleigh before she opened her own shop.

The stores limited Starling in what she was allowed to do. She was not allowed to stray from the design and use her full creativity.

“When my skills were beyond the parameters of what I was allowed to do at a certain grocery store or bakery, I would find somewhere that gave me a little more artistic freedom and where I could learn more,” Starling said.

Starling’s need for more growth eventually led her to Whole Foods, where she began learning how to work with all-natural ingredients.

“I was really interested in organics and using all natural ingredients, no natural coloring, flavorings, or preservatives,” Starling said.

In 2014, Starling left Whole Foods and moved to Farmville. She began donating cakes to local causes, which led to the initial idea of opening her own business.

“We moved, and I didn’t really have a lot to do. I had donated a few cakes and then people wouldn’t leave me alone. “I had donated to the (Farmville Community) Arts Council, and I donated to the first-responders dinner last year. And then people just started calling me and asking me when I was going to open a bakery,” Starling said.

As she contemplated the idea of her own bakery, she decided she would need to improve the kitchen in her new home. She asked Todd Edwards, a member of The Farmville Group, a grassroots organization working to spark economic growth in town, to visit and see if an improved kitchen was possible.

Edwards informed Starling that the renovation would not be possible, but offered an alternative.

“He said, ‘Why would you want to do that out here, when we need a bakery and wine shop in Farmville?’” Starling said.

Starling and her husband purchased a commercial building, located at 3699 E. Wilson St., for her business venture.

Renovations are underway and should be complete by Feb. 1, 2018. Starling hopes to have her bakery up and running by mid-2018.

Once open, Starling plans to serve specialty and pre-decorated cakes, freshly made bread, pastries and coffee. Starling also plans to utilize local ingredients in her creations.

“I’ve seen a stout cake, though, I won’t be selling beer. I want to use some of Duck-Rabbit’s products to make a milk chocolate stout cake for a local tie-in,” Starling said.

When she works on creating her masterpieces, Starling feels a sense of focus and purpose, but she does it all for the enjoyment of the customer.

“The customer. That’s what it’s all about. Number one, when they see the beautiful desert they’ve ordered, you get the ooh’s and ahh’s of the presentation. My big payola is when they take a big bite of whatever you’ve made for them and their eyes close and their head goes back,” Starling said. “When they enjoy the experience, that’s the real payoff.”

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Humans of Greenville

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Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Workweek

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