CLEARWATER — Although she's just 24, Sarah Hill has known what she has wanted to do with her life for nearly 10 years.
Since her first job in a bakery at age 15, Hill has not wanted to just work in a bakery — she has wanted to own one.
So imagine her surprise when she was browsing ads recently looking for a job as a baker and she saw a complete set of bakery equipment for sale. And, it was cheap.
The previous tenants of the space she now leases had disappeared and left their equipment behind.
"The place was a complete wreck, but all the equipment worked," she said.
With the help of her parents, Hill purchased the equipment, cleaned up the shop and Peace, Love and Cake was born.
"I'm kind of a hippie, and I've always loved the '60s and '70s," she said. "I've had this name in mind for at least five years."
Peace, Love and Cake is a full retail bakery. Cakes, cookies, éclairs, brownies and other confections are all available.
But Hill, of Safety Harbor, also creates a number of specialty desserts.
"I wanted to open a bakery for everyone," she said. "I've had people ask me 'Do you do diabetic cakes?' or 'Do you do cakes for people who are lactose intolerant,' so I taught myself how to make them."
Hill doesn't use any nut products in her cakes, so her products are also safe for people with nut allergies. All of her products are from scratch, and she develops her own recipes.
One of Hill's most popular items since Peace, Love and Cake opened nearly a month ago is her cheesecake.
"Everyone loves my slow-baked, New York-style cheesecake," she said. "Shortly after they buy one, they come back for another."
In addition to traditional cheesecake, Hill also makes several different flavors, including raspberry, blueberry, Key lime and pecan.
While her focus is on the retail store to start off, Hill hopes to expand into specialty wedding cakes and more wholesale business. Her most unusual wedding cake technique involves blowing sugar into decorative designs, much like a glass blower.
Hill has an associate degree from Johnson and Wales University, one of the top culinary schools in the United States.
Both Hill and her family, who helped her get the business started, were a bit nervous to start a venture in this time of economic uncertainty, but they saw an opportunity in the making.