Good Business: Local bakery enjoys sweet success in Kensington

The number of Black businesses in Philadelphia is not proportionate to the city's population, which is 44% African American.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Good Business Series is a partnership with the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

The monthly series will highlight minority-owned businesses in the Delaware Valley.


If the bright pink building doesn't lure you into Pound Cake Heaven in Kensington, the sweet smell wafting from it will.

"The aroma is so powerful," said Larry Hadley as he took a break from baking a cake. "The minute you hit the door, it just socks you in the face."

But there's one person who doesn't pick up the sugary scent.

"I've become numb to it," exclaimed owner Pamela Thornton.

Perhaps that's because she's focused on the sweet smell of success.

"People tell me, 'You know how blessed you are to be in the business for ten years?" she said.

At Pound Cake Heaven, Thornton is the keeper of the pearly gates.

She makes many of her mother's recipes alongside her brother, Hadley, to create a taste of home.

"We try to make you remember when your grandmother and moms and aunts used to bake in the kitchen," she said.

With one in Yeadon and one on the corner of East Russel and Kensington Avenue, the business was heaven sent.

"One day, I took my daughters to a craft shop, and we did a cake decorating class," she said. "I got really fascinated by the designer cakes. They were so beautiful."

After friends kept asking her to make designer cakes for them, Thornton realized she needed to turn her hobby into a business.

"The more people started asking for cakes, it started costing me," she said. "I saw a storefront, and I thought, 'Wow, that's where I can go!'"

Now, she sells cakes by the round and by the slice.

"People come in and buy two or three slices," she said.

Customers can order the cakes in person or online. Thornton creates custom cakes and has created a Pound Cake of the Month Club, providing a different pound cake every month with a membership. But cakes aren't their only creation.

As easy and delicious as Thornton makes it look, being a Black business owner in Philadelphia is no piece of cake.

"Oh, it's very hard. It's very hard," she said.

Regina A. Hairston, president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ & DE, added, "Black businesses don't have the same access to capital as their peer white businesses have."

Hairston also notes that Black businesses are less likely to get approved for loans in the amount requested.

The number of Black businesses in Philadelphia is also not proportionate to the city's population, which is 44% African American.

"We have 5% of the businesses in Philadelphia. That number is extremely low," said Hairston.

It's the reason she approached Thornton after, of course, falling in love with the pound cakes at her bakery.

"I invited her to join. And she did," said Hairston.

Thornton says she's benefited from workshops and advice on how to expand her business.

Now Pound Cake Heaven is diversifying its business with cake decorating classes. Thornton is also exploring opportunities for wholesale so they can serve up even more little slices of heaven.

Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.