Who hasn’t been in the kitchen, sitting at the counter perched on a stool, watching as grandma got busy?
You don’t say much, if anything at all. You simply watch as your grandmother creates magic. Perhaps she hums a little tune, flashes you an occasional smile, and hands you a big spoon or mixer beater dripping with goodness to sample. It’s your reward for being patient, and for not being underfoot.
All the while you’re a sponge, soaking up the pinches here and dashes there. Maybe there’s a recipe to follow, but more than likely, there isn’t one. Because grandma cooks from memory. Her knowledge has been handed down to her from her mother, her mother’s mother, and so on down the line.
And so, it was for De’Jonae “Dee” Curtis. The now 12-year-old was inspired by her grandmother, and filled with a dream. She first began her cooking business at home at the age of 8, then expanded to the mall before opening, Dee’s Babycakes, LLC on the main drag in the heart of Vicksburg.
“My parents surprised me on my 10th birthday with my first store in the Vicksburg Mall,” said Curtis, her eyes shining with the memory. “That was back in June of 2021. Now I’m here in this location and it’s been really good,” she said of her bakery located at 2600 Clay Street.
“I’m homeschooled, and I not only watched and learned while my grandma cooked, we also watched a lot of cooking shows together,” said Curtis. “It inspired me, and motivated me because I knew, I could do that too. It was a really good way for me to learn math too, you know, a half a cup of this or a fourth of a teaspoon of that. I realized I really liked doing it, the cooking, of course, but it made math fun.”
“I’ve interviewed with several baking shows and I’m just waiting for word if I made it or not. It’s very exciting,” added Curtis.
Curtis also shared that her business is dedicated for her aunt, nicknamed “Babycakes,” who the family lost to breast cancer. It’s the reason, she said, the name of her business will never change. Her aunt’s image also graces the bakery’s advertisements.
A portion of Dee’s Babycakes proceeds are donated to various cancer charities, the Humane Society, and animal shelters. Her long-term goal is to one day help other kids open their own businesses through a non-profit she’s started. She also dreams of national expansion as a brand.
Dee’s Babycakes offers a variety of delectable delights, and all the goodies are solely Dee’s recipes — from the cupcakes and cookies, cakes and chocolate covered grapes to breakfast and lunch specials. There are free samples too, a little taste of the flavors she started out with — strawberry shortcake, lemon and vanilla, and buttercream.
“My ‘OG’ flavors,” Dee says, a giggle escaping her as she dashes off to the kitchen in a flour covered apron.