Lara Militello’s career has taken many paths. She started in the corporate world doing IT work, web development and account management – but left that realm to raise her four children.
Looking for some part-time work, she became a professional organizer but after moving to Shelburne in 2016, she switched gears again.
In May of 2018, Militello opened Boulder Hill Bakery, specializing in customized, made-to-order cakes, cupcakes, and other treats.
Militello first started thinking about baking as a business when she was living in Massachusetts. A friend with a home-based cake-baking business frequently got so busy that she couldn’t fulfill all her requests.
“My daughter had her heart set on a particular cake,” Militello said, “and my friend was too busy so I decided to try to make it myself and it was fun. When I called her again she was booked again, so I made another cake.”
Militello posted pictures of her creations on Facebook.
She said she didn’t want to compete with her friend, but moving to Vermont allowed her to give the baking business a try. Although she had enjoyed working as a professional organizer, that kind of work often requires a full eight hours on the job which was difficult with four children. “My kids were young so it wasn’t ideal,” she said. “Baking allows for more flexibility.”
Militello’s kitchen is licensed and she follows the Cottage Food Laws which require annual inspections from the Vermont Department of Health.
The 48-year-old admits she misses the corporate world a little bit. She recently started doing validation testing on a part-time basis for a contractor.
Many customers provide photos of what they would like Militello to design but give her room to improvise. “Sometimes I just get asked to do a theme,” she said “and I’ll stress because I’m afraid it won’t be what they wanted.”
Her most memorable cake, she said, was baked to look like a slot machine.
“It’s not like you can get an on-line tutorial for something like that,” she said. “I had to make it out of paper first to get the idea of the size.”
On top of the difficulty in crafting the cake, Militello had to deliver it herself over a pot-holed dirt road. “I got lost,” she said “but I got it there in one piece.” Militello often creates a second cake as a back-up.
“Things don’t always work out as you plan,” she said.
Militello bakes with local butter and milk and in the summer she makes use of local berries. Her niche is novelty cakes and although she loves to sculpt flowers, she has fun experimenting with other shapes including a turkey leg and a cake that looked like a brain for a Halloween party.
She doesn’t do wedding cakes because of the size limitation of her freezer and occasionally has to turn down work because of time constraints. Customers from as far as New York City have requested her services and she asks people to book as far in advance as possible.
“I probably make two dollars an hour,” she said “but it’s never been about the money. I love it when people share pictures afterwards and it’s great to see little kids who are so over the moon. That gives me the most joy.”