When Brenda Massey and Emily Hampton opened their businesses in October 2017 in a shared space on the Square, they had already been through more together than many new business owners.
Massey, who owns Sip ’n’ Stain, had known Hampton, owner of Stellar Bakes, for a number of years. But the two bonded after Massey was diagnosed with breast cancer more than five years ago.
Massey, who today is cancer-free, said Hampton gave her some decorated cookies as a gift, and Massey was touched by the gesture as Hampton usually reserved such gifts for family members.
Massey said she encouraged Hampton to turn her decorating skill into a larger endeavor. Up until that point, Hampton had never thought about starting her own business. But with a background in art and photography, Hampton said cookie decoration blended her artistic talents and personal interests.
“I’ve always just have had that drive for creativity,” she said.
Stellar Bakes focuses on selling cookies rather than carrying a more varied menu of baked goods. Hampton said it is easier for her to not have to multitask, and cookies are also a more convenient treat to offer customers who are walking around the Square and visiting shops.
Although the decoration is special, Hampton said the quality and flavor of Stellar Bakes’ cookies are important considerations. She sticks with a classic shortbread recipe with vanilla icing, a combo she said is “good with coffee.”
Hampton said she plans to start cookie-decorating classes in December. The classes will be catered to decorators of all ages and skill levels, she said.
At Sip ’n’ Stain, Massey leads do-it-yourself craft sessions allowing customers to enjoy a glass of wine or beer while creating hand-painted wooden signs.
Massey developed the idea for the business after trying the activity during a friend’s birthday party, she said.
“I fell in love with it, and I told my husband, ‘This is it; this is what I want to do’,” she said.
Massey swaps the traditional oil-based staining material with a water-based product, which she said lacks the fumes that often come with oils that can be unpleasant and harmful.
She said the eco-friendly staining process is a key component to her business.
Participants in Sip ’n’ Stain classes can pick from more than 300 sign designs or develop a custom design, Massey said. Classes typically last for about two-and-a-half hours.
Massey said the classes have been popular with customers holding birthday and bachelorette parties as well as couples out on date nights. Sip ’n’ Stain’s wooden signs are good as home decor or to give as gifts, Massey said.
The two women said sharing a business space requires some coordination and compromise but has been mutually beneficial.
Hampton said customers who come in for cookies or ice cream want to learn more about the art classes at Sip ’n’ Stain, while Massey’s customers often find it difficult to resist Stellar Bakes’ sweet treats when they are taking part in art classes.
Hampton and Massey’s friendship also helps the process of running two businesses in one storefront.
For Massey, she hopes sharing her experience and recovery from cancer can offer encouragement for others affected by the disease.
“It’s just one of those things,” she said. “It’s your story, and hopefully it can help other people who are going through it.”
Sip ’n’ Stain and Stellar Bakes
710 S. Austin Ave., Georgetown
Sip ’n’ Stain: 512-921-8081, Stellar Bakes: 830-484-8824
www.sipnstaingeorgetown.com, www.facebook.com/stellar bakes
Hours: Wed. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Thu.-Fri. noon-9 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 1-5 p.m. closed Mon.-Tue.