Nikki Knaup, baker
Do you think making sweet treats is as easy as pie?
Think again. As demonstrated on popular baking shows, making spectacular desserts is harder than it looks; it takes creativity, perseverance, and attention to detail. Nikki Knaup, baker and owner of Knead Sweets, has all three qualities in spades.
Growing up in central Missouri, Nikki was always interested in the creative arts, including culinary arts, but it was her grandmother that inspired her early love of baking.
“My grandmother was a gifted baker and ran a couple of restaurants,” Nikki says. “I love food and eating. I like my food to also look great.”
Like many people during the pandemic, Nikki started baking even more and delved into the art of making cakes. This included ensuring her cakes looked as good as they tasted. And while she started out making cakes for only close friends, the word quickly spread, her calendar filled, and her baking journey began. She eventually launched a menu of cakesicles, floral mini cakes, cupcakes, and artisan sourdough bread. KneadSweets became a busy side business that allowed Nikki to express her creativity. Her full-time job was running her in-home daycare.
Her desire to be home with her son is what fueled her ambition to whip up a thriving bakery business. And most recently, Nikki and her husband, Joe, have added a newborn baby to the mix.
“I want to raise my boys at home and be with them, and this allows me to be creative and be with them at the same time. My husband has always been such a big supporter of mine, no matter what I’m taking on.”
Nikki mainly promotes Knead Sweets on social media where she posts photos of her themed cakes and cakesicles that look like they belong in gourmet magazines. Her current specialty is cakesicles, which are larger in size than traditional cake pops. The cakesicles are decorated with a variety of designs, from elegant fl oral and nature designs for adults to bright colors and shapes for kids.
Nikki is self-taught and is still learning new recipes. Her adaptability, artistry, and determination are what make Knead Sweets an ongoing success.
“I just needed a creative outlet and a way to work with my hands. God has put me inthis direction, pushing me. I have to give credit there and keep going.”
For more on Kneads Sweets, or to order your next edible work of art, you can email Nikki at email@example.com or connect with her through Knead Sweets on Facebook or Instagram.
Steve & Carol Weller, woodworkers
THE CREATIVITY SHOPPE
Cutting boards, small bowls, crochet hooks, rolling pins and other works of art, along with fresh-baked cookies and bread are just a few of the things one might see on the tables of Steve and Carol Weller at the Lincoln University or Holts Summit farmers markets. They have been familiar, friendly faces at the markets for years.
Although Steve learned how to use a handsaw at age 7 with his grandfather and framed houses as a teenager, the love of woodworking and spark for honing his craft came later in life. It began from a pivotal place of needing to destress and escape the growing challenges of his workday.
“When I worked for youth services, I started picking up woodworking for my own self-care from what I was dealing with before I retired around the COVID 19 pandemic,” Steve shares. “I was making so much stuff [that] I didn’t know what to do with it. And then my family and friends didn’t know what to do with it, so we started a business.”
Steve and Carol are a dynamic duo in their woodworking endeavor. Carol bought Steve his first woodworking lathe, and Carol will soon be offering personalized engravings on the wood products they sell. They work their booths together at farmers markets, art fairs, craft fairs, and other local events. The two are passionate about ensuring their handmade products are accessible and affordable for all.
“We decided when we got into this that we wanted to make quality products that regular people could afford. That’s why we call it functional art,” says Carol.
As a self-taught woodworker, Steve is constantly dreaming up new projects and learning new techniques that he hasn’t tried before. His most recent focus is working on segmented turning. A form of woodturning on a lathe, this technique involves gluing together various pieces of wood to create a pattern. He is currently working on turning tulip patterns, which will be perfect for spring products.
While Steve and Carol stay busy completing projects, the best part of their work is the time they get to spend with their grandkids, including passing on the love and tradition of woodworking.
“It means a lot that they want to get out there,” Steve says. “I hope they are creating memories they will have for a lifetime. It comes full circle. I started with my grandfather, and now I’m working with my grandkids.”
To chat directly with Steve and Carol, stop by one of the local farmers markets to check out their products, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website at thecreativityshoppe.com.
Janna Volmert, Couturière
When thinking about couture clothing, one’s mind might automatically go to a runway in Paris or a famousdesign house in Milan.
Janna Volmert is someone who would like to change that mindset.Janna, the owner of JM Couturière, designs and creates custom wedding gowns and formal wear for her cli-ents. A Jefferson City native, Janna earned her fashion design and product development degree from Stephens College in Columbia before returning home to work in the bridal industry for several years. She took that experience, plus her passion for personally designing couture formal wear, to launch her own business. She started part-time, but then she quickly realized that she wanted to fully invest her time and resources into the business.
“I asked myself, why am I not doing what I love to do all the time?” Janna says. “I just decided to jump in and do it full time in 2021. This business was born out of my love of couture, and I knew it was something I could do right here in Jefferson City asa multi-service design business.”
Janna designs custom wedding dresses from start to finish, including sewing the gowns or modifying existing wedding dresses that may need extensive alterations to fit the bride’s vision. It’s easy for Janna to spend 100 hours or more making a garment, depending on the complexity. The creations she makes in her studio are as unique as the clients she collaborates with.
“Some clients reach out knowing exactly what they want; they just can’t find it. Others know they don’t want a traditional shopping experience but need more clarity indesign. Either way, we explore together, and I help them zone in on their ideal, one-of-a-kind creation. I’ve had one client who wanted a wedding jumpsuit while another wanted a wedding dress in dark gray, but I also work on a lot of traditional dresses.”
Clients can go to JM Couturière’s website ( jmcouturiere.com) to see her process, including scheduling a consultation at no charge. Janna personally walks her clients through the process and helps them look at fabrics for ideas. Her work can also be seen on social media through Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. While many people aren’t sure how to pronounce the word Couturière in her company name (which in French is the feminine form of someone who creates couture), she hopes they remember she’s here to create something special for big events in people’s lives.
“A custom gown is something as unique as you are, and that is really special. I’ve done christening gowns, first communion dresses, pageant gowns, prom dresses, and mother-of-the-bride dresses. I can create anything in formal wear except fully tailored suits.
In addition to creating and altering designs, Janna also completes unique redesign projects that combine the old and the new. For one client, she took a wedding dress worn in the ‘80s and turned it into a formal top the client could wear on a milestone anniversary cruise. She’s also taken a mother’s bridal gown and repurposed it into a robe her daughter could wear as she got ready for her big day.
It is opportunities like these that keep Janna inspired to continue creating couture fashion for her clients.
“I am grateful and honored to do what I love right here in Jefferson City.”