Sassy Pants Sweet & Treats is the inaugural winner of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Month for May 2021.
The award, sponsored by Enrichment Federal Credit Union, is awarded every month to a member of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce. Businesses with 50 or fewer employees are eligible to receive this designation. To be considered, the establishment must have been in business for three or more years and show active involvement in the community and/or the chamber.
According to the nominator, “Sassy Pants moved and expanded operations at the beginning of the pandemic. They have done an amazing job staying engaged with the community and surviving during a time when other longer-established businesses were unable to stay open. They have fought hard to grow their business over the past year. I think this is worthy of being nominated as a small business of the month!”
Owner and Operator Sheri Hartzog embodies the definition of entrepreneur, a press release said. She started the business in February 2017 as a way to make some extra money while staying home with an infant. In fact, it was her daughter, born prematurely at 27 weeks, who is the company’s namesake. The NICU nurse actually gave the now five-year-old the nickname “Sassy Pants” since the tiny girl came out kicking and squeaking “even at that young age,” said Hartzog.
Sassy Pants is indeed a family business, the press release said. Sheri and her husband Bobby started the business, and it was based on her mother’s recipes and teaching.
Mom, Betty Bracken, taught her how to bake and make candy, and the venture began with Valentine’s Day candy, and expanded to Easter, then other holidays, and special events, the press release said. In a year, Sassy Pants had moved to its first location in Grove Center and then relocated to its current location at 981 Oak Ridge Turnpike. Sadly, her mother passed away the same week of the grand opening, roughly a year ago.
“I dedicated the opening to her,” Hartzog recalled, “and I started with her recipes.” Hertzog has since graduated from culinary school as a certified pastry chef, and the business is doing so well she is now looking for an additional chef who can help with the baking, while other employees dress the desserts with fillings, icing, and toppings, the press release said.
The former special education teacher seems to have no regrets about her career change. In fact, they are so busy that custom orders need to be placed two weeks in advance. The store is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m.-noon. Walk-in customers can choose from a to-go item assortment of gourmet cupcakes, cream horns, and cake pops. Sheri’s own favorite is a chocolate cupcake filled with peanut butter, complete with leant butter icing and crushed Reese’s peanut butter cups on top, the press release said.
“It’s sinful,” she confessed. But she says a fan favorite is their white almond cake, not to mention breads they offer at the Farmer’s Market.
The business likes to be involved in Oak Ridge and Anderson County schools with sports team sponsorships. Sassy Pants has participated in the Oak Ridge Art Center’s Souper Bowl, and often donates items for silent auctions and special events.
To be considered for the Small Business of the Month award, Chamber members can visit Small Business of the Month under the Members tab on the Chamber’s website at www.oakridgechamber.org.
This press release was submitted by Kathy Gillenwaters of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce.