Ever heard of cake pops? Well, they're quickly becoming a popular alternative to the cupcake. Cake pops - or cake balls - are pretty much what they sound like. They are yummy balls of cake covered in chocolate or candy on a stick. Not a bad idea! GalTime found two ladies in Fort Lauderdale, Florida that specialize in making these sweet treats and they're making them for a very good cause.
Savvylicious Sweet Designs is owned by two gals who became friends and then went into business together. Ana Anselmo and Stephanie Nizio met through their husbands. They became friends upon realizing their daughters were about the same age - and that they both had a fondness for cake! Ana says, "Like a good recipe, when you mix all of the ingredients of friendship, love of baking, love of children, paying it forward, love of creating smiles on peoples’ faces, and a wonderful idea to do it with Savvylicious Sweet Designs was created!"
a mother's joy and sorrow
There's more to this story, though. If not for a life-saving transplant operation, Ana and Stephanie's daughters would never have played together at all. After thirteen years of marriage, Ana finally got pregnant. She says, "Life was perfect! I was going to be a psychologist and my husband and I were having our perfect baby we had waited so long for. Then Savvy was born and she was perfect. Soon after birth we learned that this amazingly perfect little girl was very sick." Doctors told Ana that her daughter didn't have much time, "At four months old, we were told our daughter wouldn’t live to see her second birthday unless she received a liver transplant by her first birthday. Savannah was born with Biliary Atresia, a rare liver disease affecting approximately one in every 15,000 births."
Savannah finally got that critical transplant. But Ana and her husband endured a painful and frightening journey. As a parent, it's heartbreaking to hear Ana say that, "Since we didn’t know if Savannah would live to see her first birthday, we celebrated her 6 month birthday." They waited for months for "the call" that an organ donor match had been found for their daughter. Of that "call", Ana says, "There was an immediate joy and then simultaneous tears. I knew my baby was getting a chance at life only because another had lost theirs."
read more about Savannah Anselmo's story here - and find out how you can help kids in need of transplants
the birth of cake pops for a cause
But how do cake pops play into this story? As with a lot of things in life, it's all connected. Ana saw a woman on TV named "Bakerella" and e-mailed her to see if she would create a cake pop to bring awareness to organ donation. What Ana didn't know was that Angie Dudley, aka "Bakerella" was also a recipient of the "Gift of Life". When she received the e-mail she immediately contacted Ana. The two women spoke - and cried - together and "Bakerella" was on a mission to create a pop to help raise awareness and "Pops for a Purpose" was born. Who better than to go into business with than Stephanie - known around town as the "cake lady" for her baking prowess?
still giving back
Today, Savannah is doing well. But her rough start to life is still giving her mom inspiration today. Ana and Stephanie may run a business, but they also believe in giving back. Ana, Stephanie, their spouses and daughters make giving back a group effort. They try to go to the Ronald McDonald House a few times a year to make dinner for the families. It's an organization that helped the Anselmo family through Savannah's illness and surgery.
The giving doesn't stop there. They're still making Cause Cake Pops. Currently, they're featuring a Cake Pop for Madison Star Schafer - a young girl with cancer. Stephanie says, "The Madison Cupcake Pop will be available for purchase for as long as the family needs the help. 100% of the profits from these Cake Pops go to Madison 's family to help them with their expenses as their child fights cancer. We also feature Cake Pops with awareness ribbons. A portion of the proceeds from these cake pops will go to the Children's Organ Transplant Association." Stephanie says they'll be featuring a new "cause pop" soon, too. Below is is a photo of Madison enjoying the cupcake pop made in her honor.
rewards & challenges of running a business
As busy moms of three and four-year-old girls, Ana and Stephanie say there are lots of rewards of owning their own business. Stephanie says, "This business is built by two friends whose daughters are best friends. Also, it is beyond wonderful to create items that you know are going to bring a smile to someone's face and in some cases with our "Cause Cake Pops" also help out a family who is in need of a little extra help and love during a tough medical situation. Being able to "Pay it Forward" is so important and what drives us to be a success for our children and for others."
We had one last important question for the Gals - do they still like to eat cake? Stephanie says, "Too much! I did have a short period of time while were developing our recipes when I was 'caked out'. I’ve since re-found my love for all things sweet. The more icing, the better." Same goes for Ana, who says, "Love it! Cake Pops are perfect because they are bite size cakes and you don't over indulge ... well that is if you can stop at just one."
In fact, Ana says one of the most challenging aspects of owning the business is, "Putting down the Cake Pops! It is so hard to look at these beautiful little creations and not want to sneak one or two for myself." Given what she's been through in the past few years, that's probably not such a bad problem to have!
photos of savannah courtesy of the anselmo family
photos of madison courtesy of diana schafer photographaphy
Savvylicious doesn't have a storefront yet. In Florida, they deliver to West Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties and they'll ship everywhere else. To get yourself some cake pops, visit their website or Facebook page to place your order.