Michelle Adams, Co-Founder
Michelle Adams and her sister both took a break from their professional careers to do something creative together. They thought they'd just create some recipes and sell their cupcakes at the farmer's market on the weekend to overcome the burn out they felt from working their corporate jobs for twenty years. But as the requests for their products increased, they decided to take the leap into full-time entrepreneurship and build out a bakeshop so their customers could get their homestyle cakes and innovative flavors anytime they wanted.
Since 2012 when they opened their first retail location, The Sugar Path has been giving back to the local community that helped to grow and support the bakery. After Michelle submitted an entry in Barbara Corcoran's Seal of Approval contest and won, they began shipping their cake jars all across the United States.
An animal lover her entire life, Michelle's beloved dog, Molly, died of cancer in 2019 and her soul dog, Moose, died of cancer in 2022. Feeling pulled to a bigger cause, Michelle began self educating on canine cancer and improving the lives of her furbabies. The Sugar Path was founded with the simple notion that the ingredients matter more than the recipes, so she expanded on that concept with her own canines. In addition to baking, Michelle loves to cook savory foods. She grew up in her Italian grandma's kitchen learning all of her family's recipes. Today she enjoys sharing her cooking with others and educating others in the food industry, including helping home bakers to grow their skills.
In addition to acting as CEO of TSP, writing, cooking and teaching, Michelle is the founder of Bakery Biz School where she uses her 25 years in the legal industry, in addition to her experience as a retail bakery owner, to help bakers create businesses that profit. She also has a personal mission to improve the lives of animals. Michelle is a dog mom to a three year old golden, Maize, who suffers from genetic hip dysplasia, and her rescue dog, Blue Jay; and a cat mom to Max, her 15 year old diabetic cat who is also a cancer survivor.
Nina Cater, Co-Founder
It was Nina's amazing palate and baking skills that resulted in the creation of the Sugar Path's spectacular desserts, and her professional experience in Operations and Customer Service that created a beloved brand. Over the years the customers of Sugar Path came to affectionately call the two sisters, "the sugar sisters" and looked forward to their antics of posting new cake flavors that would sometimes draw customers to the shop in their pajamas just to ensure they got a slice of the daily special. Of course, it was Nina's colorful descriptions of the desserts that regulars came to love that brought so many people far and wide to the bakery.
In addition to running the TSP kitchen, writing and creating recipes, Nina saves lives as a dispatcher in the Sheriff's Office. She is the dog mom to her rescue dog, Daisy, a Parvo survivor, and a three year old golden retriever, Barley (brother to Michelle's Maize). She loves making her furbabies her special recipe dog treats!
Daniel Adams, Shipping Specialist
Daniel Adams has basically grown up with the Sugar Path, but customers have known him as the friendly counter help for many years. He has mean box making skills, having went through a crash course in the subject at the start of the pandemic when the Sugar Path retail bakery came to a halt for awhile and customers switched over to shipping sweets in bulk. He is an important team member that is in charge of our shipping department, so if you need something special in your box, just let him know!
The Sugar Path, although started by two sisters, was really home-grown by a family. Inspired by the teachings of their grandparents, Michelle and Nina are life-long mentees of the concept that "food is love". As small children being raised in a small farming community in the Midwest by Italian grandparents, they learned early on how to grow the food they ate daily, and that the ingredients you use are more important than the recipe. In fact, that became their motto for the business they started as an ode to their grandmother who taught them how to bake and cook. Mary and Don Ripley were an inspiration to all that met them with their loving kindness always exemplified in everything they did, the large family they raised, and the peaceful way they lived their honorable lives. The original icon of the Sugar Path bakery, a simple bluebird, was dedicated to their grandmother who always gifted Michelle and Nina a bluebird of happiness for special occasions to remind them of what was important in life. When they opened the bakery in 2012 it truly became a family affair.
When you own a small business, your entire family somehow always gets involved! Michelle is fortunate to have the support of her husband, Terry, who is an architect and always offers (read "is begged for") his design services, but whom over the years has skillfully contributed in many other ways too. The Adams' three children, Nick, Daniel and Maggie, have all played an important role as chief taste testers, counter help in the retail bakery, or box experts in the shipping department. Everyone in the family is enamored with their animal family members, which include Molly (who walked the Rainbow bridge in 2019 but will always be the one that raised the kids), Moose (recently running over the Rainbow bridge to his beloved Molly girl), Maize, and Max the furry feline (whose twin brother Midas is waiting for him over the bridge).
The Sugar Path bakery was born in 2011 when Michelle and Nina started selling their wares at farmer markets in the western suburbs of Chicago. In 2012 the sisters built their retail bakery and it quickly became a staple in the local community. Over the years the bakery became known for its stylish sweets that tasted as good as they looked. Serving cakes, cookies and pies, the desserts were highly sought after for holidays and events, especially weddings. While they started shipping in 2016, requests for their shipped items increased during the pandemic.
In 2022 Michelle and her sister decided to close their retail bakeshop. They loved seeing their beloved customers, baking over a million cupcakes for their celebrations and creating thousands of wedding cakes over the last decade so it was a bittersweet decision. But it was Michelle's bout with Covid in 2021 that nearly took her life, that really caused the family to pause and consider maybe it was time for new adventures. She is committed to growing Sugar Path as an e-bakery and resource brand with a social purpose of helping animals. She also helps new entrepreneurs in Bakery Biz School, teaching them how to start bakeries that profit so they can stay in business and change more lives. While sick with COVID her dog Moose (despite his own cancer battle), never left her side. To honor that devotion she decided to reinvent the social mission for SP to bettering the lives of dogs. She loves to cook and teach others about her philosophy that ingredients matter. Finally, she encourages women to reinvent to boldly take charge of their happiness, with a podcast launching in 2023.
While the retail bakery closed in summer 2022, we hope you enjoy our e-bakery that continues to make the same flavors you have loved for years.