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A Sweet Passion For Baking | Entrepreneurs | Midweek.com

A Sweet Passion For Baking

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - September 19, 2007
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Phyllis Moore-Shelby in the kitchen
Phyllis Moore-Shelby in the kitchen

Phyllis Moore-Shelby has a passion for mixing, pouring, concocting and baking pies, cakes and scones. So with her business, Shelby’s Sweets, she’s doing what she loves most.

“One of my most popular scones is the pineapple-coconut-raisin scone,” she says enthusiastically. Another scone she says people really like is the cranberry-orange flavor.

With her upbringing in Houston, her Southern charm exudes through her pecan and sweet potato pies.

Most of her business has been through word of mouth, as she has baked Bundt cakes, cookies and other sweets for organizations and parties.

When she started her business, she sought some guidance from the Hawaii Women’s Business Center. She has since become a vendor at its Gateway Marketplace on the corner of Hotel Street and Nuuanu Avenue, where HWBC clients sell their products at the downtown First Friday event. That’s where people can sample and buy her goods.


Moore-Shelby hopes to be baking full time someday as she presently fills orders in between her work as a flight attendant, something she’s done for 22 years. Her fellow flight attendants are her taste testers, and they give her feedback on new recipes.

She makes all the items fresh, so she needs 48 hours notice to create a peach pie, banana nut oat bread or any of the other sweets listed on her website www.shelbyssweetshawaii.com. She also delivers.

Her husband Stephen has been pitching in to help out with the business by doing the books and some of the manual labor.

Running a business isn’t easy, and Moore-Shelby says time management is one of her biggest challenges.

“I do my best to do all the work before 4 p.m., and after that it is family time,” she says. “Occasionally you have that spillover of work time into family time. Time is very precious so I’m extremely organized.”

One of the business lessons she’s learned is the value of having a cheerleader: “You need someone you can call at any time who will support you and boost your spirits when your not sure if you should be doing this.”

Shelby says her sisters have served as her cheerleaders - after all, they were her first customers before she ever started here business in 2003.


“Baking’s been my passionsince I was little,” says Moore-Shelby, the 10th of 11 children.

One of her earliest memories is of standing on a chair next to the stove and making pancakes for her family in their Texas home when she was 5 years old.

“I’d take orders from my brothers and sisters, and make them pancakes,” she recalls. “And if I didn’t do it, then they’d ask me, ‘Aren’t you making pancakes?’”

As a little girl, even her mud cakes had designs and pressed flowers.

She hasn’t forgotten that joy of being a youngster, and her five-year plan includes teaching cooking and kitchen safety to elementary school-aged children. She explains that children will learn math from fractions, they will learn to read from following directions and they will learn science. Then the reward is they can eat what they made.

Chef Paul Onishi at Farrington High invited her to teach basic baking to students recently.

“I taught them to make pound cake, banana bread and pumpkin bread,” says Shelby. “And 45 minutes later they were eating and sharing what they made. They loved it so much, and I’m having the time of my life.”

She’s looking forward to having a store someday soon, so she can teach keiki cooking. She also plans to offer Boiling Water 101 for her friends and others that don’t cook.

For more information, go to www.shelbyssweetshawaii.com or call 561-1240.

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