To celebrate Black History Month, the Loudoun Chamber’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility Committee is spotlighting several members of the Chamber. Today’s spotlight is on France Saunders, owner of Nothing Bundt Cakes (Dulles). To view all DEIA spotlights, click here.
Where were born and raised and, if it was someplace else, when and why did you come to Loudoun?
I was born in Queens, NY. My family moved to Charlotte, NC when I was 10 years old and I spent the rest of my childhood into my adult life there. I moved to Maryland in 1998. I eventually settled in Gainesville and have been living there for 15 years.
How long have you been in business?
We started the initial process of opening the bakery in 2015. After a long, exhaustive search for the perfect space, we decided on a spot at One Loudoun. Unfortunately, negotiations fell through with the landlord, so we began our search again. When we found the current location at Nokes Plaza, I knew it was the perfect spot and realized things truly do happen for a reason. Our current bakery space is larger then the original space, which has been quite useful with the growth of the business. In September 2017 we were able to open our doors.
How did you get into this line of work?
I have loved baking from the time I was able to stand on a chair in the kitchen helping my mother cook and bake. I didn’t set out to open a bakery intentionally, but I knew I wanted to own my own business. I had always thought I would go into interior decorating since that’s also one of my passions. One day while talking to one of my closest friends in Charlotte, where I grew up, she raved about this adorable bundt cake bakery that she was addicted to and how phenomenal the cakes were. She commented on the outstanding customer service, and how it didn’t have the feel of a franchise, but more like a local mom and pop bakery. She strongly recommended I look for one in my area and give it a try. Her words intrigued me, so I searched for a local Nothing Bundt Cakes and was disappointed to find there were none in the DMV. I was excited by what I read about the business from their site and immediately told my husband about the bakery and that I wanted to open one in Northern Virginia. We contacted the franchise that day and were pleased to find out they were interested in moving into the Northern Virginia area. Trying the cakes a few months after our initial contact, confirmed my decision that I needed to open a Nothing Bundt Cakes Bakery and the adventure began from there.
Have you had any special mentors or inspirations that guided your career?
On a personal level, I have always been fortunate enough to be surrounded by phenomenal people that offer their encouragement and guidance. From my husband who has supported me through my venture to be a business owner to my mother and sister who cheer me on every day and are proud of my efforts. I have a few very close friends that are business owners as well and we routinely share experiences, disappointments and successes. That support has been instrumental to my career. Since opening my business I’ve had the pleasure of establishing friendships with people who live and own businesses in the Loudoun community that I would probably not have had the opportunity to meet that have also been an inspiration to my journey. I consider these special people in my life as my tribe, and they are the nucleus that give me that extra boost of energy every day.
What is the best part of your job and why?
The best part of my job would be a two part answer. In spite of all the associated challenges of labor and difficulties finding good people, I adore my staff and the varied personalities, backgrounds and comical quirks they bring into the work environment. I try to foster an enjoyable workplace by bringing on individuals that embody the chore values of NbC… having the spirit of a champion, a servant’s heart and able to make genuine connections. Having this type of team puts a smile on my face every day.
I came from a professional environment that has a huge impact ensuring our national security and was honored to be part of it. But I decided I wanted to do something that would bring joy to people (which ironically is an NbC motto). I get excited seeing the reaction of our guests tasting our cake for the first time or trying a new flavor. The excitement of participating in local events, talking to fellow business owners and meeting new people in the community are all reasons why I find pleasure in doing what I do.
What is it like owning a business in Loudoun?
Choosing to own a business in Loudoun county has been one of the best decisions I could have made. I chose Loudoun County to open my bakery because of the great reputation it has for supporting the community and embracing different types of small businesses. Loudoun county offers the beauty and nature of a small town, along with the opportunities of a metropolis. Also, my husband and I have discussed relocating to Loudoun, which is one of the reasons I decided to open the bakery in the county.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
To me, Black History Month means a time of deeper reflection and celebration. A time to not only reflect on the atrocities experienced by African Americans, but also the moments of great achievement that have been influential in the progression of our country and our society. I feel a sense of pride to have a month dedicated to a group of people that look like me that so often get overlooked and dismissed. While we have made positive strides in recognizing all races as being equal, we still have much work to do moving forward. Hopefully Black History Month will continue to be an instrument in helping all recognize the importance of celebrating all races and ethnicities.
What are some of your favorite things to do when you are not working?
Like most business owners, I unfortunately don’t get a lot of spare time to do everything I would like to do, but when I’m not working, I love to travel both internationally and domestically. I’m somewhat of a homebody, so I enjoy cooking, baking and sometimes birdwatching from my patio. When my creative side comes out, I enjoy sewing, decorating and I find relaxation in cross-stitching. Most of all I love hanging out, laughing and enjoying good food with family and friends.