Ex-convict finds sweet relief in the kitchen, opens Durham bakery
Posted April 27, 2016 6:15 p.m. EDT
Updated April 28, 2016 7:14 a.m. EDT
Durham, N.C. — 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."