Ferguson, Mo. (Ivanhoe Newswire)–Dozens of businesses were destroyed, many burned down, during the Ferguson riots in 2014. This Saint Louis suburb of just 20,000 people is still working to rebuild their community. After one business owner got back on her feet, she made giving back the cornerstone of the business she rebuilt.
Natalie DuBose, owner of Natalie’s Cakes & More started baking with her dad at seven years old.
“When everyone else was outside playing, I decided to stay in the house and watch dad cook,” said DuBose.
She worked three jobs to save enough money to open her own cake shop in Ferguson, Missouri.
“I had one little KitchenAid mixer and I had a six-foot table that I bought from a Sam’s Club,” said DuBose.
Her signature caramel cake quickly won over customers. Business boomed in those early months, but Ferguson was about to erupt in riots.
“It was floods of people in the streets,” exclaimed DuBose.
Natalie gave free cake and water to protestors. She begged them to spare her shop … they did not!
DuBose said, “This is the original space that was busted out. Where all the windows were busted out.”
Insurance? It didn’t cover riots.
DuBose told Ivanhoe, “I felt like I was in a scene from a movie. I really did.”
Then a stranger set up a fundraiser for Natalie. It netted $272,000. She used $100,000 to rebuild and, in a selfless act, donated the rest to other businesses in Ferguson.
“I believe it happened because I’m supposed to be a giver,” she said.
Four years later, she’s still giving. Naomi Ashby owns the dance studio next door.
Ashby said, “She’s been a blessing. The majority of our kids do come here for free.”
When Starbucks heard Natalie’s story, they wanted her cakes for five local stores and they were a hit.
“And now we’re in 42 Starbucks,” DuBose proclaimed.
Her business model is simple.
“When one person gets a raise, everyone gets a raise,” DuBose affirmed.
Her cake shop is thriving, pumping out nearly a thousand cakes a day. Natalie employs 21 people, including her dad.
As we approach the four-year anniversary of the Ferguson riots, it’s worth pointing out there has been positive change since the unrest. Business owners like Natalie say they feel closer as a community and they’re working hard to build each other up. They also point to positive change within the government, including new legislation, police training, the use of body cameras, court reform and civilian review boards.
Contributors to this news report include: Stacie Overton Johnson, Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Bob Walko, Editor.
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