Waterford woman forges out on her own with new bakery
By Julie Rossman
At age 40, Kerri Ball bought herself a 2002 Ford Mustang Convertible – her “dream car,” she said. She enjoyed that car for about 1 1/2 years, until another dream took priority; to own and operate her own bakery.
“I sold my dream car to open a bakery,” Ball said. Though she admits she does miss the car, she’s happy with her decision.
That bakery, Kerri’s Custom Cakes, opened late June on Main Street in Waterford, right next to Uncle Harry’s.
Ball, who has lived in Waterford for 18 years, started working in a bakery when she was just 15 years old – she was a bakery clerk at a Kohl’s food store in Milwaukee. By age 19, she was an assistant manager there. She went on to work at McGlynn’s Bakery in Milwaukee, Spiegelhoff’s Pick ‘n Save in Burlington and finally at Gooseberries in Burlington.
She considered opening her own place when she was 19, but never did. This time she thought, “enough is enough – I wanted to try this on my own, to see what I could do,” Ball said.
The result, is what she likes to call a “good ‘ole mom and pop bakery.” Though both of her parents have passed away, she had them in mind when she created her business.
In the bakery’s entryway, there’s an old–fashioned wedding cake display, complete with her parents’ wedding photo.
She also started a custom of naming bakery items after family members and “regular” customers. ‘Grandpa J’s Cream Coffee Cake’ is named for her dad and ‘Grandma Bev’s Turnovers’ for her mom.
“I thought they’d be proud that I have a ‘mom and pop’ place,” Ball said.
Kerri’s Custom Cakes features old–fashioned favorites like elephant ears, apple slices, lemon bars and pies. There’s also french pastries, donuts, custom cakes, bread loaves, cheesecakes and cookies.
A variety of crusty breads and rolls and buns round out her selection of home-baked goodies. There’s seating for about 15 where customers can enjoy a cup of gourmet coffee or a soda.
Ball enjoys catering to students from neighboring Waterford High School. She even provides a free Wi–Fi internet connection and hopes her business will be a nice place for them to ‘hang out.’
“I love kids,” she said.
Coming soon, the bakery will feature hot ham and rolls every Sunday.
So far, Ball does not have any paid staff, which makes for long days. She goes to work every day at 3 a.m. and usually works until 7 or 8 p.m.
“But I enjoy it,” she said. “I’m not whining about a long day.”
Ball is grateful for all the support she’s gotten from her family, friends and customers. Her husband, Tom, and sons, Justin and Eric, help out when they can. Justin works in the flooring industry but says he enjoys baking.
“Working with my mom is not so bad,” he said with a grin.
Customers have even offered to pitch in and help with dishes.
“I have a lot of support,” she said.
Looking forward, she hopes to hire and train others in baking and cake decorating. She may even offer cake decorating classes.
For now, she is enjoying doing what she loves, in her own place. And she loves to hear feedback from customers. Ball says customers often walk in and say “it’s about time we have a nice bakery in town.”
She notes there are several bakeries in town now, but each is unique.
“We are all different, we have different personalities,” she said.
Ball misses the people and places where she used to work, but admits she’s happy to be on her own. “It’s so much nicer, I’m not just making money – it’s more personal.”
Thanks to her dream car, she didn’t even have to take out a loan to start her dream business.
“I don’t plan on getting rich,” she said. “Just to be happy and meet new people and make them happy.”
Kerri’s Custom Cakes is located at 309 West Main Street. Hours of operation are Tuesday – Friday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 6 a.m. to noon.