1. Hillsborough

The Cake Girl opens shop in Carrollwood

CARROLLWOOD — After a decade of being in business and three years of operating out of a mobile dessert trailer that frequented farmers markets and food truck rallies, The Cake Girl has moved into a brick and mortar storefront in Carrollwood.

"It was time for us to grow," owner Kristina Lavallee said.

Since she was a little girl growing up in Puerto Rico, Lavallee remembers stepping into bakeries eyeing the cakes on display in awe. She'd try to go home and replicate them, and one day hoped to be a baker.

"I wanted to go to grocery stores," she said. "I always was so intrigued about it."

After getting degrees in hospitality management and food service and restaurant management, Lavallee worked in bakeries before launching her own business.

The Cake Girl has made custom-order cakes for weddings, birthdays and other celebrations for the past decade. And as her business began to swell, Lavallee found herself having to turn down orders because she was overbooked.

Now with a new location at 13713 N. Dale Mabry Highway and larger staff, Lavallee said she feels ready to serve more customers. The new location offers ready-to-go mini-cupcakes and ice cream as well.

Managing a staff, she said has been a challenge, but when customers eye her creations behind the glass display, she remembers why she does it.

"To see people's faces and reaction, that's what's been worth it," she said.

Contact Divya Kumar at or . Follow @divyadivyadivya.