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Cake artist to morph from 'sugar momma' to 'sugar-free momma'

Michelle Honeman plans to close brick-and-mortar shop in Forest Grove

Michelle Honeman recognizes the inherent conflict between cakes and healthy eating. 'I don't really even like cake,' she said. 'I just love creating art out of sugar.'After two rewarding but difficult years, Sugar Mommas Bakery owner Michelle Honeman is closing shop this Sunday, Aug. 14.

She has decided to transform herself from “Sugar Momma” to “Sugar-Free Momma” and plans to start a YouTube channel that focuses on clean cooking, meal planning and preparation, and easy recipes.

It’s one of several ventures on her new to-do list.

Honeman has dedicated the last five years of her life to baking cakes and other treats for everyone from local families to excited brides to the cast of the television show “Grimm.” She has appeared on Food Network programs and been featured in magazine and newspaper articles, and opened her own bakery.

But “dreams can change in life,” Honeman said. “The bakery taught me that and a lot more. I’m so grateful for everything.”

From success to stress

In 2014, when Sugar Mommas opened at 1714 Pacific Ave. in Forest Grove, the bakery quickly began to draw customers.

But with the increase in business came more hours at the shop. Honeman hired employees and switched her own schedule so she was working into the night to fulfull her orders. “I never saw my customers,” she said, and that was what she loved most about the shop.

The long, stressful work weeks made it nearly impossible for Honeman to stay healthy, spend time with her son and be creative. With no time to cook or exercise, she gained weight, eating the sweets at her shop or grabbing fast food at the end of a long night. “My doctor was like, ‘Keep this up and you’re not going to live much longer.’”

And with her son leaving for college in four years, “it breaks my heart to hear him say, ‘I never see you,’” Honeman said. “My son was the reason I was doing this in the first place.” Her weight also limits the activities they can do together, she said.

She struggled financially earlier this year, due in part to expensive equipment rentals and a drop in sales — and possibly to competition from Next Dimension, a new bakery in town. But even as sales rebounded and supporters donated money to help, Honeman said she sensed that overall, the venture was unsustainable.

So she decided to close it and focus on new dreams, including clean cooking.

Spotlight on health

Honeman’s new YouTube channel will be called “Finding My Michelle,” a name inspired by her new lifestyle changes. “There’s a happiness inside me that’s more important than the title of store owner,” Honeman said. The stress and the extra weight “has affected this Michelle inside me that I want to find.”

Honeman will also take the filming to local residents’ homes, making healthy dishes with ingredients already in their refrigerators and cupboards.

She’s also hoping to organize classes and even camps to educate the public on healthy cooking and clean eating. “I have this passion for teaching people, especially children, about where their food comes from,” said Honeman, who envisions a baking-from-scratch camp for low-income families.

In addition, she’ll be starting a walking group in partnership with Forest Grove resident Susan Dieter-Robinson, meeting for the first time Monday, Aug. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the north end of the B Street Trail. “We’re going to explore a different area of Forest Grove each week while getting healthy and spreading love,” Honeman said.

Honeman will still be making cakes at a commercial kitchen space in Beaverton but will focus less on producing affordable baked goods on a daily basis like she did in her shop — and more on higher-end specialty cakes.

For those who will miss their daily dose of Honeman’s treats, she’ll be releasing a cookbook with all her favorite recipes from the shop.

“I have mixed emotions,” Honeman said. “I’ll miss that tie with the community but I’m really happy

to focus on my son, health and cakes.”