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From Tears To Tiers: How Grayce Holloway Turns Her Grief Into a Succesful Bakery & Business, Icing For Izaac

Grayce Holloway owner of Icing for Izaac shares her story with the Fort Wayne Business Journal about how she started her business. Learn the story of how this baking shop opened it doors and got started. Learn about Icing for Izaac in Fort Wayne, IN.
Grayce Holloway : Owner of Icing For Izaac

Entrepreneurship should not be a solitary endeavor but rather a team effort that involves the support and understanding of those closest to the entrepreneur. Running a company requires perseverance, strategic thinking, and the ability to navigate through challenges, and one key factor that can make or break an entrepreneur's journey is having a solid support system. Behind every successful entrepreneur, you'll often find a supportive partner, family member, or peer who plays a crucial role in providing encouragement, advice, and a strong foundation of support. Not every entrepreneur can say they have all three of those forms of support, but Grayce Holloway is one of the lucky ones. Thanks to the unwavering support of her loving husband and family, the inspiration and baking guidance of her mother and grandmother, and the kindness of peer Rick Doering, she has been able to create the local bakery we all have come to know and love, Icing for Izaac. Although many have been to Grayce's bakery, not all know the heartbreaking story that inspired it. Today, we will delve into the story of Grayce Holloway, from how her interest in baking began to the tragic loss of her son Izaac and how she turned her love of creating cakes into a way to keep Izaac's memory alive.

When being an entrepreneur you must have a solid support group that can help you stay motivated. A support group will help you get through the hard times and lows.

Grayce Holloway was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana. When describing her childhood, she told us she spent a lot of time watching her mother create custom cakes out of their home as a side business. She said she has many memories from when she was little, reorganizing her mom's food coloring jars and icing tips to get involved in the process any way she could. As she got older, her mom began teaching her more about the process of creating beautifully crafted cakes of all sizes. When we asked Grayce what her favorite thing to bake was as a kid, she told us that she enjoyed making cakes with her mom and decorating cookies with royal icing, but the one thing that held a very special place in her heart was her grandma's chocolate chip cookies. As Grayce shared her heartwarming memories of baking with her grandmother, it became evident that her passion for creating delicious treats was deeply rooted in her childhood. She fondly recalled the countless hours spent in her grandparents' kitchen, perfecting her skills and bonding over their shared love for chocolate chip cookies. Today, that cherished connection lives on in Grayce's bakery, where every batch of chocolate chip cookies is created using her beloved grandma's recipe. Amidst the sweet nostalgia, a significant turning point in Grayce's life was just around the corner.

Jumping ahead to the summer before her senior year at Snider High School, an unexpected milestone awaited Grayce and her now husband Eric, as they discovered she was pregnant with their oldest daughter, MaKenzie. With this new adventure on the horizon, Holloway decided to go to Mark Outlaw to finish her senior year early. Three weeks before graduation, MaKenzie was born, and Grayce was able to walk with her class and accept her diploma. Following graduation, Eric got a great first-shift job, and Grayce started working as a server at Quaker Steak and Lube until they closed in 2015. Now on the hunt again for work, Grayce accepted another serving position at the Truck Stop on Goshen Road, where she would stay for the next seven years. When we asked Holloway if she enjoyed her years as a server, she said,

"I really did. I'm a people person, and I liked building relationships with people at the Truck Stop. Many of the men are alone most of the time or have a hard time at home, and I really liked the grumpy customers more because maybe I was the only person who was nice to them that day. I felt like I could make a difference, even if it were just in one person's life, just by being nice to them and giving them grace. I always see that meme that says, 'somebody somewhere remembers you because you were kind to them,' and I feel like I had first-hand experience with that at the Truck Stop."
Fight the hard battles is what a entrepreneur goes through. From a past experiance, learning how to get through the hardest times is what creates strong people and entrepreneurs.

Throughout her years at the Truck Stop, Grayce gave birth to her oldest son in 2017 and got pregnant with her twins soon after. During a routine ultrasound, she received the devastating news that Baby B, Izaac, no longer had a heartbeat. For 25 more weeks, Grayce carried both of her twins until she went into labor and had to say goodbye to her sweet Izaac forever. This traumatic experience brought Holloway into a crippling state of postpartum depression. Through time, Grayce started making cakes again as a way to keep her mind busy, even if it was just for a few hours. She lived in fear that the memory of Izaac would one day be forgotten and that there would come a time when she would have to tell her surviving twin, Zaden, about his brother's passing. She knew she wanted to create a way to keep Izaac's memory alive and have him as a part of their everyday lives, and this was when the idea to create Icing for Izaac was formed. One night, after her shift at the Truck Stop, Grayce came home and told her husband that she was going to start a custom cake business called Icing for Izaac, and with his unwavering support, she did just that.

Over the next several months, Holloway worked her shift at the Truck Stop and spent her free time creating custom cakes for her growing customer base. In 2019, Grayce got pregnant with her rainbow baby, who was born just two weeks before the COVID shutdown in 2020. When Grayce was ready to return to the Truck Stop after maternity leave, she was informed that they were cutting staff due to COVID and she could not return to her serving position. So, with no other options in sight, Grayce decided to put everything she had into Icing for Izaac and make it her full-time job.

As more and more cake orders started rolling in, Holloway quickly outgrew her home kitchen, got her board of health certification, and moved into Cook Spring, a shared commercial kitchen off Rudisill Boulevard. She hired two employees to help her manage the ongoing cake orders. Although the extra space was much needed, this location required a pay-per-shelf monthly fee along with a pay-by-the-hour cost to use the kitchen, so Grayce knew she couldn't stay in this location for too long because of how costly it was. Thanks to a mutual connection, she was introduced to Rick Doering, owner of Alto Grado Pizza, previously located at The Landing, and little did she know that this connection would help propel her business forward and create a long-lasting business mentor and wonderful friendship.

When Rick and Grayce first met, Rick was looking for a way to bring in extra income during the winter months when the foot traffic on the landing was slow. Once the two started talking, they hit it off immediately and ultimately decided that, for a monthly fee, Holloway could use the kitchen and the walk-in freezer and get out of Cook Spring. When we asked Grayce about this time and if she was nervous about moving into Alto Grado with Rick, she said,

"Oh my gosh, no! I knew I needed to figure out something; at that time, I didn't have a big enough clientele to get my own location yet. Once Rick and I met and talked for the first time, he showed me so much. He asked me questions like 'What's your profit margin?' 'What's your overhead?' 'What's your cost of goods sold?' 'What's your labor costs?' 'Are you paying yourself?' And I didn't know all those answers, and that's how our entire relationship went. He took me under his wing, showed me all the numbers, connected me with his accountant, and really helped me with the backend. I have the creative side down, but he really showed me all the backend sides of business. As far as moving in there, I was so excited. I've been excited for every step in this journey. Growth is uncomfortable, but I've never been scared or unsure of what I'm doing. I've always been ready for the next thing and kept pushing forward."

Over the next year and a half at Alto Grado, Grayce's menu evolved from just custom cakes to include cookies and cake pops as well. As the demand for her products continued to rise, she expanded her team of two to a team of six. With these new product offerings now available, Rick, out of pure kindness, purchased an acrylic case for Holloway to display her cookies and cake pops near the register. This simple gesture had a significant impact on Grayce, as it was the first time her baked goods had ever been displayed.

Although her time at Alto Grado was nothing short of remarkable, Grayce was quickly outgrowing the space. From the beginning, her ultimate goal was to have her own location, and now, with the experience of paying rent, she knew she wanted to own the space she would be in next. She began looking at other restaurants going out of business or moving and quickly realized that purchasing an existing restaurant was far more expensive than she could afford. With this in mind, she took an out-of-the-box approach and started looking at commercial spaces that could be turned into a restaurant instead. On the first day of her hunt, she came across a location that faced Lima Road that was zoned C2, meaning it had no specific restrictions on what the space could be used for, and Grayce immediately knew this would be the new home for Icing for Izaac and put in an offer the next day. Out of pure coincidence, Grayce received the news that her offer had been accepted on her twin's birthday, July 12th.

We asked Grayce if there were any hiccups throughout the process of transforming the office into the bakery we see today, and she said,

"Nothing went smoothly about the construction. We got started, and then we found out after we got our permits submitted that everything needed to go to the state because it was a change of occupancy since it was going from an office park to a restaurant. So that meant we had to have an architect draw full blueprints of the entire building and then redraw blueprints of what I was taking out, adding, and moving down to the product number and model of everything I would have. All of that had to be done, drawn in, and then sent to the state, and that was all going on when GE was being built. You can pay extra to get your permits sent to the front, so all these large corporations were paying extra to get to the front and my little bakery, that I did not have extra money to pay to do that; just had to wait. When that was over, we had to do inspections. That was also when GE was finishing up some of their buildings, and they had two inspectors walking through their buildings all day, so the rest of the people with permits waiting for inspectors had to wait until inspectors were available. Thank god for my contractor; his name is Chris Cammack, and he owns Cammack Estates; he was so patient with me and the process and I appreciate his efforts to get us to the finish line. It took about nine months from when we got the keys to when we opened."

When is come to Grayce Holloway from Frot Wayne, Indiana, she is a true entrepreneur. This Entrepreneur has had some low-lows and some high-highs but as a business community we have to keep pushing forward no matter what. Being a Entrepreneur you can never give up.

With the construction process taking far longer than anticipated, Grayce was still paying rent at Alto Grado to fulfill her ongoing orders while simultaneously paying her commercial loan. Although those months were filled with challenges, Holloway stayed strong, and on April 1st, 2023, Icing for Izaac was officially open to the public. Once you enter the new location, you are transported to a bright and beautiful bakery cafe where no detail goes unnoticed. Grayce has created a space with beautifully designed walls and spaces that provide the perfect photo backdrop. The display cases are filled with mouthwatering treats accompanied by a new menu featuring breakfast, lunch, and drink options. This new menu was inspired by the ability to serve more people who may have dietary restrictions or not want to eat too many sweets but still want to support Icing for Izaac. With the new menu, Holloway has become the new hot spot at the office park because before she came to the area, there were no other food options close by. With the new menu and growing customer base, Grayce had to hire more help to accommodate the growth and now has a team of ten. One feature that truly sets Icing for Izaac apart from any other bakeries is the room tucked away in the back, created just for moms like herself, a thoughtfully designed play area for kids. When we asked Grayce what inspired her to put a playroom in her bakery cafe, she said,

"When I was looking for a space, I knew I had to have a play space because down at Alto Grado, there was so many times I had to bring my kids with me, and four of my kids are under the age of six, so I would try to have them sit in the lobby and give them pizza, but then customers would be walking in, and there would be all these little kids in the lobby, so I knew I couldn't do that to them again. I needed a space where they would be happy and want to come to Mommy's shop instead of sitting there and being quiet. So when I went to look at the location, they had that room as their meeting room with a big conference desk and a projector, and I thought, 'Oh my god, this is perfect for a playroom!' I was with my best friend, and she asked if I would have it open to the public, and I was like, 'Oh, I should!' I knew my kids wouldn't always be there, and it quickly developed into a playroom in the bakery for moms to come in anytime. I have another mom who volunteered to arrange mommy play dates for kids of different ages to help moms make friends because making mom friends is hard, so we're trying to help moms develop those friendships inside the bakery."

Another unique concept that Icing for Izaac has incorporated at their location is hosting an array of free events that allow parents and children to experience things that usually require tickets, such as meet and greets with princesses. When we asked Grayce what inspired the idea to start doing free events, she said it stemmed from her own needs as a mother. She told us about when she worked at the Truck Stop she remembers wanting to take all her kids to do things, but they didn't have a lot of extra money to purchase multiple tickets. Now, with Icing for Izaac, she has the opportunity to provide memorable moments for other families that may be in a similar situation. She said that during her free events, she creates themed treats and drinks for people to purchase while they're waiting if they want to. The cost usually evens out in the end, but the true joy comes from seeing other moms experience these moments with their kids who may not have had the opportunity to if tickets were required.

Icing for Izaac is a family owned and ran company local in Fort Wayne, IN. They are thriving as a business and making their marke in the Fort Wayne, IN business community. Learn this entrepreneur story here with the Fort Wayne Business Journal

With Grayce being a mother of 5 plus her angel in heaven, we asked her how she manages work-life balance, and she said,

"It's very difficult, but I have a few things that I will not waver on. Like on Friday night, my oldest daughter likes to go roller skating, and I don't care if the building is on fire, I am going to take her roller skating every Friday because that is all she asks of me, or if my boys ask me to play with them or take them to school in the morning, I always try to make it a point that I show up for them on things that are important to them. If I need to come into the bakery really quick, I'll ask them if they want to come, and they always say yes, but I really couldn't do this without my husband. We have been together for 13 years, and I wouldn't be who I am today without him. He saw me in the most broken state of my life, and he chose to love me until I could love myself again, and I think that's really important. It hasn't been easy, any part of it, but I wouldn't be here without him. Two years ago, he quit his job and put all of his faith in me so that I could carry our family. He's a stay-at-home dad, and he loves it, and I love doing what I'm doing, and I'm just grateful that we could work together to get here."

As we discussed the hopes for the future of Icing for Izaac, Grayce says the goal is to move to a larger location. With more space, Holloway would be able to serve more people while also providing more events and room to offer larger support groups for infant and pregnancy loss and postpartum depression. She would also like to create a larger play area to accommodate more moms and babies and ultimately continue doing what she's doing today but on a much larger scale. To finish our conversation, we asked Grayce what advice she would give to another mother wanting to start her own business. She said,

"I would tell them to believe in themselves even though I know it's so hard. Believe in yourself and build a circle of people that believe in you so when you don't believe in yourself, they don't let you quit. When I first started, I had some people in my life saying this would never work, 90% of restaurants fail, and this is a waste of money, which could have really distracted me from everything I have today. So eliminate those people from your life  and surround yourself with people that support you, love you, and believe in you."

Fort Wayne Business Journal Shares Stories of local entrepreneur's that live here in Fort Wayne, IN. The local entrepreneur are making their impact by growth a business and helpping other on the way. Learn more about our Fort Wayne, In Entreprneurs here

We want to send a huge thank you to Grayce Holloway for taking the time to share her story with us. We also want to thank Nike with Creative Roots Media for capturing all the photos you see throughout the article. If you enjoy seeing all the incredible people making an impact in Fort Wayne, one business at a time, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter so you're always in the loop about what's happening here at the Fort Wayne Business Journal.


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