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Ex-convict finds sweet relief in the kitchen, opens Durham bakery

Posted April 27
Updated April 28

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— Keijuane Hester has been selling sweet treats at his Durham bakery since 2012, but his story of redemption began much earlier in the unlikeliest of places.

Hester was in federal prison serving three-and-a-half years on drug trafficking charges when he was assigned to work in the kitchen.

Thanks to the mentoring of a fellow inmate, Hester traded cooking up drugs for cooking up cakes.

"One day he told me, 'You know, Keijuane, I'm teaching you this trade and if all fails, you'll have a trade to fall back on,'" Hester said of the moment his life began to turn around.

When he was released from prison, the next step in his life started with a carrot cake – a recipe he had gotten while behind bars.

Hester made the cake for his co-workers, and "just like that," he began moving forward.

"I took it to work the next day, and to my amazement, everybody just went crazy over the cake," Hester said.

With $30 and a hand mixer, Hester started cooking cakes in his mother's kitchen and selling slices door-to-door, mostly to businesses, barber shops, beauty salons and nail salons.

"Anything is possible. I just believe that," Hester says of his transformation.

When his business grew out of his mom's kitchen, Hester opened Favor Desserts in Durham.

"I knew that if I really focused in and did something positive, that I could be successful, just as successful as I was doing at something wrong," he said. "This isn't the life I chose, this is the life that chose me. This is what God had for my life. This is the path he chose for me."


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  • Amanda Townsend Apr 28, 10:55 a.m.
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    What an amazing story. And I will definitely venture out and try some of those desserts.

  • Ron Coleman Apr 28, 9:33 a.m.
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    Good for you young man. I wish you all the success in the world. Sometime it takes bad stuff to make a lot of good, you are proof. Good job.

  • Phillip Mozingo Apr 28, 9:10 a.m.
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    I worked for the state prison system for almost 17 years. I have seen a few get out and become successful. Most choose that revolving door option. I'm glad to see Keijuane chose the narrow path. Kudos!

  • Demute Sainte Apr 28, 8:48 a.m.
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    I hope to get the opportunity to try this mans desserts. Nice to see stories of redemption.

  • Michael Fields Apr 28, 5:21 a.m.
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    We bought some cake slices last weekend. All were moist and delicious. You MUST get the BANANA!! It was the best cake I've ever had. Even down to the crunchy pieces of Nilla Wafers on top.

  • Josha Barton Apr 28, 3:22 a.m.
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    This is an example of what could happen if we took on the idea or concept of each one teach one. I have considered the implications of families that don't have a male, much less a man with a trade to pass down to their young. This does wonders for your confidence and your ability to get a job.