Sheila's Cakes Bakes Up Sweet Success on Westside; Word-of-Mouth Advertising Has Helped Shop Grow from Ortega to Lake Shore Area
Maraghy, Mary, The Florida Times Union
Byline: MARY MARAGHY
Sheila Norton of Ortega would send mice-shaped cookies and other home-baked treats to Stockton Elementary School with her daughter Sarah.
"The other moms started asking: where did these come from?" Norton said.
In landslide fashion, parents and school employees called on her to bake cakes and cookies for their special events.
"It was so overwhelming," said Norton, a Westside native and 1985 Lee High School graduate.
But Sheila's Cakes & Specialty Treats was born, and continues to grow a decade later.
Today, orders pour in, all through word of mouth - Norton has never advertised.
In 2000, she opened a 700-square-foot bakery in Ortega with two employees. Years later, she expanded into an adjoining office, more than doubling the size of the place and her staff.
Then in 2006, she outgrew her space again and relocated to a 6,200-square-foot facility at 4522 Appleton Ave., where she has more than 20 employees and room to expand.
At some point, she said, she'd like to open some retail spaces in various parts of Jacksonville.
"God gave her special decorating talents," said her mother, Yvonne Freeman of Ortega, Norton's head taste tester and cheerleader.
Sheila's also hosts birthday parties, where guests of all ages can bake their own cakes. They get aprons, hair nets and their own icing bags to frost with.
Sheila's has become the go-to baker for Jack Del Rio, his family and other Jacksonville Jaguars. She also makes desserts for the popular Whitey's Fish Camp in Clay County.
During a recent visit to her fuschia facility off Roosevelt Boulevard, iced cookies shaped like ornaments, snowflakes, reindeer, baby Jesus and Santa filled glass cases. There were free samples of eggnog cookies, peppermint bark and pumpkin loaf. Gingerbread houses were fenced with pretzels and shingled with candy wafers and peppermint sticks. …