Arianna Whitehurst — Anna, for short — seems mighty wise for her years. I met her a couple of weeks ago while buying a new cellphone. At only 20, she’s on her way to owning and operating her first business, an in-home commercial bakery. The name, by the way, is a reminder of who she is: Her maiden name was Hale. The bakery is Exhale.
And, at least from an amateur’s point of view, she’s doing things right. She’s gotten help and encouragement from family, friends and her employer, U.S. Cellular, in Redmond. She consulted a lawyer and has basic licensing under her belt. Her Redmond kitchen meets the standards the state sets for commercial bakeries in the home, including a ban on pets.
All that remains to be done is to purchase a refrigerator that will be used for the business alone. Until she has that, she cannot prepare for sale anything that must be kept cold — no cream pies or filled cakes just yet.
That refrigerator won’t come cheap, however, and Whitehurst is unwilling to purchase it until she can afford it. She expects to have it in place by Feb. 1.
The bakery has been a long time coming. Whitehurst’s love of baking goes back to when she was about 7, she says. Those first efforts generally came out of a Betty Crocker box, though the decorations were her own. Later, she contributed baked goods to family events and made them for friends. She posted photos online, and other friends asked for what she’d prepared.
She relies on mixes no longer. About three years ago, Whitehurst says, a great aunt’s Christmas present was a small spiral notebook filled with recipes. Today, much of what she bakes comes from that collection. She also researches recipes from elsewhere, altering them to make them her own.
I can’t imagine having the organizational skills and drive to have done all that Whitehurst has at such a young age. I can’t imagine working at my day job until 8 o’clock Sunday night, as Whitehurst did recently, then coming home and baking for a Boys & Girls Club event until 3:30 a.m. But then, I’m a long way past 20.
I particularly can’t imagine doing all of that with both a full-time job and a husband, but Whitehurst has both. And, she says, both her boss and her husband support her efforts wholeheartedly. Thus her husband, Hayden, lends a hand where and when he can. He cooks meals and cleans up afterward so Whitehurst can bake. He helps with the photography for the Exhale Bakery Facebook page, assisting with lighting and taking photographs.
Even with all of this effort, Whitehurst doesn’t plan to make Exhale her lifelong career. Instead, she wants to be a police officer, though she knows she has some work to do before that can become a reality.
So why would an accomplished baker with a business of her own turn to law enforcement?
It goes back to her childhood, which she describes as sometimes chaotic, at least in the early years. During that time she came to view the police as the good guys, and as a young woman who says she has always wanted to help people, being one of the good guys seemed the perfect fit. Assuming she succeeds, she will both be able to, as she describes it, shine bright and to help people.
Meanwhile, she’ll get her new refrigerator and bake. It’s something she loves, and I don’t doubt she’ll be good at it. She and her husband, who works at Premier Auto Body, might buy a house.
Law enforcement is still several years away, Whitehurst says. For now she’s concentrating on other things, among them perfecting her recipe and techniques for macarons, the round, layered pastries from France.
— Janet Stevens is deputy editor of The Bulletin. Contact: 541-617-7821, firstname.lastname@example.org