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This Bakery Stepped Up For A Community In Need After The Covenant School Shooting

Images: Amy Teague Portraits
Images: Amy Teague Portraits

Sugar Drop, a former wedding dress and cake supply shop, has been a big part of Nashville for decades. It was in business for 50 years before award-winning cake artist Brooke O’Dell, whose client list includes Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson and the like, bought it in 2017. A longtime professional baker, her space, which she moved to in 2020, is now in Franklin, Tennessee. It operates as a cafe, event and class space, as well as a summer camp. O’Dell is also big on charity work, which is why, when the devastating mass shooting happened in 2023 at The Covenant School in Nashville, she provided comfort the best way she knew how – by baking.

Beyondish spoke with O’Dell about her “Cakes for Covenant” city-wide online auction bake sale that ran in mid-April when the baker, overcome with emotion, called on local professional and home bakers to register their baked goods online through a Google Doc. Though the bake sale is over, O’Dell continues to sell t-shirts, with proceeds donated to the Community Foundation.

What inspired you to launch “Cakes for Covenant?”

As a mom of two teens, my heart and passion have been [providing] ways to give back to efforts involving children whenever possible. Earlier this year, I spent six days in Honduras working with a boy’s orphanage, delivering food to the special needs school and to families who live in the city dump of Tegucigalpa, as well as teaching cookie decorating classes and spinning cotton candy for the natives to taste for the first time. Having come out of that emotional experience, when the devastation occurred at Covenant, I knew I needed to step up and find a way to use my platform for the community.

I was watching things unfold on social media, seeing so many reaching out, asking if there were ways they could help as bakers and chefs. [My vision was to] bring the community together for a bake sale within a few hours after the event, but I didn’t voice the idea until a few days later. I shared the concept with a marketing team I worked with, and before the call ended, we discussed logos, how to set up a website, and the legalities required to put this plan into action. I wanted to provide a way for anyone to feel useful, [especially] in a situation where many of us felt helpless.

Why was it vital to involve bakers of different skill sets for the cause?

I am friends with many local commercial bakery owners; I know their hearts and love for this community. I’m also fortunate to have taught thousands of students over the years in my space, and I see each day how much pride students take when creating something visually with a sugar medium, no matter the [student’s age].

When I dreamed of finding a way to bring us together, it was not a dream for only those of us in the trenches with our business each day, but a way for those young ones who dream of being bakers or home bakers, who are providing goods within their neighborhoods and communities, to all come together to use our skills for a bigger purpose. I am not a trained pastry chef and many of the best in the business aren’t either, but we all equally put our heart into the products we produce.

Where did the donations go, and how much did “Cakes for Covenant” raise?

All the money raised through the donation auction went directly into the Community Foundation account, every penny. We raised over $6,400 from the bake sale auction items and [will continue raising money] through [shirt sales], available at our store. One hundred percent of the proceeds will continue to go to the Community Foundation.

In an interview, you said, “You can step inside to feel like a kid in a candy store and leave on a sugar high.” As the owner of Sugar Drop, how do you feel when you step inside?

I have an overwhelming sense of pride each time I step into the walls of this space. I easily remember a 50-year-old building with seven layers of carpet and a ceiling that caved in. But my glitter floors and candy chandeliers, plus the sound of friends who walk in the door that know us by name – little ones that giggle while gobbling up gummies, friends who squeal when they step in for the first time or taste our warm chocolate chip cookies – all of these things are sweet reminders of our story, of how far we have come in these past six years, and hopefully [are] a small glimpse of how far we will continue to grow as a brand. Business owning is not for the faint of heart, but I feel like I have the sweetest job in town.


Allanah Dykes

Allanah Dykes is a freelance writer whose niche is home decor and food, but she has written in almost every field from mental health to political op-eds. Her favorite pastimes are listening to Biggie and Bach and enjoying New York Italian ices and slices


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