Kelly Ball said she surprised herself when she first jumped at the chance to become an entrepreneur.

“I very much thought I would have a normal job with a salary, but I could never figure out what that should be,” she said.

She credits finding an affinity for baking pastries while working at a coffee shop and meeting a new, eclectic friend group as being key ingredients to her new career path.

“I was meeting people who were really creative, not mainstream ... [people like] dancers, musicians and entrepreneurs,” she said. “Seeing people who were approaching life in a different way than I ever thought you could helped me get comfortable and accept that I can do something I enjoy for work.”

In 2014, she launched Naturally Curly Cook, a business where she baked items in a commercial kitchen and sold them at local farmers markets.

In February 2020, she opened her first brick-and-mortar storefront in the Lakewood area and changed the business name to Leila Bakery and Café.

She said she chose to honor the kind spirit of her husband’s aunt by naming the business after her.

“I’m more comfortable with this [name], because Naturally Curly Cook references me, which is OK, but I don’t thrive on that kind of attention,” Ball said. “Now that we’re here, it’s a lot more than me. We have a lot of chefs who bring creativity here.”

Ball said although their quiches and kolaches are the cafe’s bread and butter, they have many other options, such as muffins, scones, pies, tarts, salads, soups, coffee and more. Ball said over time, the menu has expanded by adding cakes.

“When we first opened I only wanted to do carrot cake,” she said. “I learned quickly you can’t have a bakery and not do cakes. We had so many inquiries for cakes. Finally, I said, ‘This is stupid,’ and started making cakes.”

Ball said some of Leila Bakery Café’s must-try menu items include the cranberry orange tart, the mushroom and goat cheese quiche, and the winter citrus kouign amann. A kouign amann is a multilayered cake that originated in France.

“We spend a lot of time making laminated pastries,” she said.

Ball explained that lamination is the process of folding the butter into the dough, which results in an abundance of flaky layers.

“We make ours by hand and spend quite a bit of time doing that,” she said.

Ball is very grateful for Leila Bakery and Café’s customers, some she has known since her farmers market days and many who make weekly appearances. Ball said the business even keeps some dog treats for customers who visit with their four-legged companions.

After a recent storm caused a 30-hour power outage that wiped out half Leila’s inventory, a daily customer discreetly left a check to help the business recover.

“He didn’t make a show of it or acknowledge it,” Ball said. “It covered our deductible to the penny.”

Business information:

Leila Bakery and Café, 6041 Oram St., Dallas.

972 807-6297.

Hours: 7 a.m.-4 p.m. daily