Small businesses at Blair: Baking with Bana!

April 5, 2024, 11:42 a.m. | By Lillian Paterson | 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Meet Blair’s resident baker and small business owner, Bana Russton!

Russton poses next to the weeks orders (Courtesy of Bana Russton)

If you frequent the senior courtyard on Fridays, you’ll likely run into a crowd of students waiting for an array of baked sweets and treats. These delicious creations are the work of Bana Russton, a Blair senior and owner of the local business “Baking with Bana.” 

The beginnings of Baking with Bana

Russton started baking four years ago during the pandemic as a way to relieve stress. “I really didn’t like online school in the beginning, so I was always like, a stress baker, a stress cooker,” she says. Around a year later, she posted an image of one of her creations on her Instagram story, and someone asked if she sold them. Soon, she started taking orders, and after a six month hiatus officially became Baking with Bana. “I had a break for like six months, but [we are officially] two and a half years strong,” Russton says. 

Initially, Russton sold small things seasonally, like chocolate covered strawberries, pretzels and treat boxes. “It was more of a seasonal thing, people would order for their spouses on valentines day, stuff like that, it was here and there,” she says. “I started doing hot chocolate bombs… [for] the winter season.” Russton also began to create custom cakes, and ended up making custom cakes for a few anniversaries and weddings. 

The growth of Baking with Bana was initially through word of mouth, and the business didn’t rise to the popularity it has now until Russton started selling Tres Leches personal pans. “Custom cakes are big and they’re usually expensive, so people wanted to eat them, but either couldn’t afford them or didn’t need that big of a cake for ordering… after I introduced personal pans, the growth really started,” she says. The business’s popularity soon began to spread to Blair after she delivered an order to a student’s first period. “Everybody saw it, even my teacher… from there, I started doing it every Friday in the senior courtyard,” Russton explains.

Balancing school, work, baking, and business owning

A typical week for Russton looks like this: on Mondays, order requests are made, and from then until Thursday, clients are free to purchase a cake. On Wednesdays, she does store runs, on Thursdays she makes cake preps, and Friday is the delivery day. Outside of taking orders, Bana also gets booked to bake for weddings and anniversaries. In summary: She’s busy. 

The biggest change in Russton’s life since the explosion of popularity in her business is quitting her job. Having to juggle school, work, baking, and business management is obviously no easy feat. “I used to work after school, so senior year, after my half day, I would literally just go straight to work, and then work until eight or nine PM… since then, I’ve quit my minimum wage job, which I’m happy about,” she says. But even without her job, Russton says with the business and school to juggle, her life is still busy, if not even busier than it was while working. “I’m usually pretty busy, my friends and families are usually mad at me, because I have to bake, I can’t go out,” she jokes. 

While the work of baking and coordinating orders is Russton’s responsibility, she also often receives help from friends and family. “I’m like, I’ll feed you cake, come help me… and when I get [to Blair to sell], my best friend does help me a lot,” she says. Having a community that both supports and helps with her business is essential.

Struggles, advice, and growth

Surprisingly, Russton is the only baker in her family. “I’m pretty sure they don’t know where I get it from or why I bake at all,” she says. Because of this, and the fact that she is a self taught baker, Russton knows that the only way to grow is from the ground up. “We all start at zero, we all have zero followers, zero clients, zero orders… you’re going have mistakes… we all mess up, it is what it is, if you learn from that mistake and grow from it, it isn’t defining your character whatsoever,” she says.

When looking back on the struggles she’s experienced as a business owner, many of them were points to learn and grow. An example of this was learning how to stabilize two-tier cakes when she started getting booked for weddings and other big events. “Being self taught, I kind of just search things up, or look at google or TikTok or Instagram, I just try to find something that works,” she says.

Russton also credits business-owning as a way to hone in on time management skills. “[Baking is] very tedious and specific… I’ve learned to be more organized and I’ve learned to be more specific to detail.” These skills have assisted her both in and out of the kitchen, and are what have allowed her to grow as both a person in and outside of her business. 

So, next Friday when you walk by the senior courtyard and see a crowd of excited Blazers with a sweet tooth, you’ll know why!

Baking with Bana orders open every Monday. Order personal pans by directly messaging @bakingwithbana on Instagram, or book custom desserts by filling out the order inquiry form linked here.

Last updated: April 5, 2024, 11:44 a.m.

Tags: Businesses at Blair

Lillian Paterson. Hey, I'm Lillian (she/her) and I'm a co-sports and co-op-ed editor for SCO. When I'm not being totally consumed by school work I like to play guitar and read! More »

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