5 Under 40: Adriana Horton
Adriana Horton, 31
Owner of Oh Honey Baking Co., Baker, Cake Artist, Small Business Advocate, and Founder of The Mill Hill Bakers Collective.
Tell us about your job and why you chose your career field.
I feel as though baking and cake decorating chose me before I chose it. I have baked with my mom my whole life, as she did with my Grandma. She was always the life of the party with her pies and cakes. I think witnessing the joy she would feel as everyone raved about her treats led me to seek out the same gratification in my life.
Tell us about your activities in the community, especially what you’re most excited about.
In 2019, I submitted a proposal to The Macon Arts Alliance to start The Mill Hill Bakers Collective, which is a nonprofit shared kitchen program for businesses licensed under the Georgia Department of Agriculture. The Bakers Collective gave me the opportunity to learn and grow while simultaneously learning how to help other business owners. Being given the ability to create a safe space that focuses on community over competition is an experience I will hold dearly for the rest of my life, and I hope to continue to be a resource to my peers as our community grows and changes.
In 2020, I was given the opportunity to follow through with my dream of opening a bakery in Ingleside Village. My husband started working at Society Garden in 2018, so I would be in The Village late at night, peering into the windows of the building next to the gate and imagining what could be so clearly. I honestly couldn’t let it go. After the success of the Bakers Collective, I learned that when you really want something, you can’t keep it a secret, and you have to tell everyone what you see and what you intend on doing so that you will push yourself into being obligated to follow through with the vision. After several years of nonstop cakes and occasionally setting up in Society Garden to sell treats and tell people about my dream, I eventually somehow managed to tell the right people because the vision has become reality, and the little cafe with a green couch facing the window and cinnamon buns and coffee so good that people get angry when we run out really does exist.
As you look to the future, what are your professional and personal goals?
What a big question! I feel as though I just stepped onto the foot of my mountain and the further I go the higher the mountain becomes with a never-ending list of goals and ideas. As far as professional goals, I would love to see my bakery grow into more than one location, maybe a little drive-through spot somewhere in town. I hope to continue to help other small business owners grow by spotlighting various local bakers in Oh Honey’s kitchen! As far as personal goals, I hope to create a new level of stability for my family… and redecorate my house since I stole all of my home decor for the cafe.
What are you personally committed to accomplishing in Macon and why?
I am committed to accomplishing business with personality in Macon. I think so much of the time showing your personality in your business is considered risky but choosing not to do so results in entrepreneurs missing the opportunity to create spaces within our community that draw people in and keep them wanting to come back. I intend to provide Macon with a welcoming space that allows people to reconnect with one another, find delicious and accommodating foods and desserts, while still maintaining a fun and creative atmosphere.
Right now, what is the best thing going on in Macon?
Growth. Change. Restoration. Preservation. Seeing all of the beautiful old buildings being brought back to life downtown and watching all of the new businesses popping up and giving Macon a wider range of fun things to do is truly an honor to watch and be a part of. I was once told that Macon is a wave that is just getting started and that creative small business owners are the ones pushing that wave. I hope to continue to push the wave for Macon and see it flourish and become all that it has the potential to be.
What have you learned about yourself or people during the post-2020 era (taking into consideration COVID, Black Lives Matter, economy, etc.)? What do you hope people will do in response to any/all of our current events?
I’ve learned that isolation is our community’s biggest fear. Our society is extremely fragile, and I hope we can learn to be more compassionate and empathetic towards one another in order to ignite real positive change as we move out of this era and that people utilize their right to vote whenever possible!
What is your vision for our community?
My vision for our community is for the people of Macon to embrace change and cultivate opportunities and resources that will help future generations in Macon see how they can fully seize the potential of their dreams. I see Macon becoming a very desirable place to live, with fun things to do, look at, or listen to around every corner without the overwhelm of a major city like Atlanta or Nashville. I believe that Macon has the ability to give its residents the best of both worlds.
What needs to change to encourage continued progress in our city?
Changes in our local level food safety regulations pertaining to food truck or catering style businesses sharing a kitchen space with other businesses would give the many excited food entrepreneurs new opportunities and the ability to afford getting started. Starting a food-based business is extremely expensive, and while managing the Bakers Collective I would have to turn people away regularly because of these regulations. We would have such a fun variety of local food truck businesses if we allowed commissary kitchens to exist in our community.
What would be a missed opportunity in Macon?
I think certain areas of our city are overlooked and could use some love and attention. I first started operating as Oh Honey when I was living in a tiny house in Payne City, and I hope to see someone revitalize it in the same way the Urban Development Authority has brought life back to the mill houses in the East Macon Arts Village.
When you talk about Macon to people who don’t live here, what do you tell them?
I tell them that Macon is a city filled with gorgeous historic buildings and houses, incredible restaurants, and so much soul! And then I usually attempt to talk them into visiting so I can take them floating with me at Amerson River Park.
What does it mean to be a good leader?
I think being a good leader means being empathetic to your team and their needs, allowing them to take creative control when you see them become passionate about something, and trusting your gut. You have to be able to take a punch and shift your mindset into finding solutions to your problems without becoming overwhelmed. Nothing is really the end of the world unless you allow it to be.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Professionally speaking, I would consider growing my business to where it is today to be my greatest achievement. The past six years have been an absolute rollercoaster, but it has taught me how to go with the flow and trust that everything will work out as long as I take care of my team and keep moving forward.
What are three qualities that got you where you are today?
Creativity, resourcefulness, and perseverance.