Photo courtesy Just Because Bakery

Do you really need an excuse to savor a tasty treat? Absolutely not, says local baker Shannon Phillips, who started the aptly-named Just Because Bakery out of her home in March of last year. What impressed me more than her delicious sugar cookies and cake pops (the cookies and cream is a favorite-so light and creamy, not dense and dry like so many I've tried), was the second reason she settled on such a playful name. "It's also a play on the word 'cause,' " she says. A special education teacher by day, Phillips' other passion is working with students with mental and physical disabilities. Once this up-and-coming baker can hire on, she intends to employ those with special needs. It's also why her web address, JustBecauseBakery.org, doesn't boast the typical dot-com ending. Eventually she hopes to open a brick-and-mortar location, but until then you can find the baker online or some Saturdays at a day stall at the North Market.

Phillips was inspired to start Just Because after taking a cake decorating class for fun with friends. It was then she realized she may actually have a knack for this (and from what I tasted, she definitely does!). So, she started challenging herself by baking desserts for parties thrown by family and friends. Baking has always been second nature to Phillips, she says, growing up in the kitchen with her mom, who has a talent for decadent desserts, too. She's also the one who gave Phillips a no-fear attitude when it comes to combining fun flavors. That's why you can get raspberry lemonade or orange crunch cupcakes or chocolate chip pudding cookies-in addition to local favorites like red velvet and buckeye. But Phillips, who is specializing in cupcakes, cake balls and cookies, and will cater to parties, showers and weddings, says she will craft whatever the client can dream up. "I cater to the client and what they want," she says, but always tries to add some fun. "For me, baking is an art, and it's fun." –Beth Stallings