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When it comes to starting a small business, sometimes all you need is some grit, dedication, and a little help from others in the community.

An Ellensburg newcomer has used a combination of all the above to launch her dream business of creating sweet treats for all who love them. Cassidy Merritt recently launched Ellensburg Desserts, and those who have shopped at the Ellensburg Farmers Market have most likely seen her selling her wares, and if they are lucky, have tried a few of her desserts.

Merritt and her partner Sean Urlocker moved to town from Spokane after Sean finished law school and found a job in Yakima. When looking at homes in the region, they discovered Ellensburg and fell in love with the small-town vibe.

“We knew we wanted to live here,” she said. “Being from Maryland originally, we’re kind of used to being in the country and a small town where everyone knows each other. We just love the preservation of this town and how everything feels old school. Everyone’s really down to earth and the pace is just right for us.”

TURNING A PASSION INTO A BUSINESS

Prior to moving to Spokane while her partner studied law, Merritt was a hobby baker for half a decade. After the move, her major inspiration came when they visited Seattle and she tried her first traditional macaron at legendary bakery Le Panier.

“After trying that, I realized what a macaron was supposed to taste like,” she said. “I became really inspired to be able to make those myself. I learned how to make macarons and then I taught myself how to make and decorate cakes. I built a portfolio of what I could make from being self-taught.”

Merritt found a full-time job in Spokane making and decorating cupcakes for a bakery and stuck with it until their move to Ellensburg.

Merritt started by selling hot cocoa bombs on social media and worked with the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce to get her business off the ground. She participated in the annual Enterprise Challenge event, an experience she said was crucial in helping her understand how to successfully launch her venture.

“I had a lot of direction on how to get the proper licensing and permits I would need,” she said. “I got a lot of great advice early on.”

After searching around for a commercial kitchen to make her products, Merritt got in contact with FISH Community Food Bank and set up an agreement to bake out of their kitchen in the former Rodeo City BBQ.

“It’s a wonderful setup,” she said.

Merritt started with selling her products at pop-ups in front of the Rodeo City location and has since moved to events like Junk-Tiquen and the farmers market. She will be attending upcoming events including the night market at Gard Vintners and local Christmas craft fairs, and she also sells her products through social media and will even deliver for a nominal fee.

From her humble beginnings on social media through her pop-up and event sales, Merritt said the community response has been overwhelmingly supportive.

“The great thing about this town is that you meet one person, and you’ll meet five more,” she said. “Everyone is connected.”

For now, Merritt is focused mainly on producing cocoa bombs and multiple flavors of cupcakes, a product she said makes her extremely happy to make.

“It’s what I enjoy doing,” she said. “So far, it’s been fantastic doing that. I am also planning on doing celebration cakes and mini flavored cakes. I try to avoid theme items. I want to keep it simple and make products the community enjoys.”

Reporting for the DR since March 2018. Lover of campfires, black labs and good vibes. Proud Humboldt State alum!

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