Susan Allen lives by a simple credo: “Life is too short to sweat the small stuff. Enjoy good food and good company.”
Allen’s thriving business, Susan’s Sassy Sweets, is a testament to that philosophy. Located on Highway 90 in Waveland, the shop has been called one of the city’s best-kept secrets, but that secret is quickly getting out. Last August, the shop won Waveland Business of the Year from the Hancock Chamber of Commerce, and it also has received best traditional king cake honors from King Cake Snob, an online ranker for king cake enthusiasts.
But those accolades are just icing on the proverbial cake for Allen.
“I love trying new things and creating the very best that I can,” she says. “I really am a perfectionist!”
PRACTICING HER PASSION
During her formative years in Houston, Texas, Allen learned her way around the kitchen from her mother and grandma. She describes both as “wonderful bakers,” and her grandma was a cake decorator for many years.
When her son turned 1, Allen tried her hand at her first “extravagant” cake.
“From there, I just started practicing my passion, which grew into an in-home bakery,” she says. “Being married to an active-duty military member, it was something I could take with us to every duty station.”
In 2012, while she and her husband were living in Millington, Tennessee, Allen made a Facebook fan page for her business, and her husband’s’ best friend created a logo.
“From there,” she says, “my business exploded!”
BOOTS TO BUSINESS
Four years later, they settled in Carriere, Mississippi, where Allen took a bakery job and decorated cakes but wanted something of her own. She enrolled in Boots to Business, a program for active-duty military, spouses or dependents that focuses on opening a business and how to be successful.
“During my education, I was offered market research and found there weren’t any bakeries that offered what I can do close to Waveland,” Allen recalls. “After much discussion, my husband and I put a deposit down on our first location.”
COVID-19 shut the state down a week later, but the couple proceeded toward their goal of opening on May 6, 2020 — what would have been Allen’s mother’s 80th birthday. The pandemic notwithstanding, her husband believed in her so much that he dubbed the venture “our retirement plan.”
His faith appears well founded.
“The first weekend we opened, we sold completely out,” Allen says. “From there on, we have grown in every aspect, following my full business model that I created during my education.”
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
The bake shop isn’t taking its initial success for granted and constantly strives to create something new and unique. For instance, adopt-a-teacher boxes will become a regular promotion, and the store’s half-pound gourmet cookies are now shipping nationwide.
From gourmet cupcakes and cake pops to cookies, brownies and custom occasion cakes, all the sweets at Susan’s are scratch-made and baked fresh every day.
“(Our mission) is to provide the most delicious, sensational and widest variety of baked goods in a place that gives you not only good products, but offer the best hospitality and friendly conversation,” Allen says.
The business is a family affair, and one of the biggest benefits for Allen is seeing her eldest daughter, Nikki, and grandson, Damon, every day. She credits Nikki as a major reason the shop has flourished.
She also mentions that an extension is in the works, and fans can keep posted by following the business’s Facebook page. In five to 10 years, Allen envisions having a location twice as big and offering cake-decorating classes and parties.
“We’ve grown so much in the past three-and-a-half years,” she says, “and I’m super excited to see where we end up.”
IF YOU GO
Susan’s Sassy Sweets
315 Highway 90, Waveland
Tuesday, noon-5:30 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (or until sold out)