When dreams become a living, whimsical reality
AMBER Collins grew up in the kitchen with her mum; she was always cooking and baking.
When she finished high school, she tossed up nursing and hospitality.
"I didn't want to become a chef to be honest, I'm a bit of a rustic cook - I didn't find the precision cutting and having to be perfect, it just didn't really entice me," she said.
"And I really love people, I like looking after people as well, either with food or making them feel better.
"So I said I'll go and do nursing; I thought there would be more money in that."
The baking dream was put on the backburner.
"But then I've always continued doing speciality cakes for weddings and so on," she said.
Eighteen years nursing, a husband and three kids later, Mrs Collins, 38, is now embracing the mantra of "new year, new you".
It all started last year when she began selling her baked goods at markets with her growing side business, The Cake Garden.
"I just did three markets last year; I only went to the Handmade Market Expo twice and Mummas Nest," she said.
"Then we went to the pageant of the lights, we had a little store."
But from little things, big things grow and Mrs Collins said she was overwhelmed by customers asking where they could go to get more of her baked goods.
Allowing customers to make pickups directly from her house, Mrs Collins knew her business had a calling.
"And being a nurse at the hospital, every shift I take in food and they're always asking why I'm there and why I don't have a shop," she said.
As the New Year rolled around, Mrs Collins decided to take the plunge and leased the building on the corner of Woondooma and Targo Sts, formerly a hairdressers.
"With the shift work (of nursing) and the long hours and being away from the kids and juggling everything, I thought it would be nice to have a sea change," she said.
Still on call at the hospital, Mrs Collins is splitting her time between baking and running her now open market cafe from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am - 2pm.
And she said she is still pinching herself.
"I never thought I'd end up having my own little shop, although I've dreamt of it," she said.
"If you have something like that, you've really got to have the right timing and opportunity.
"And I just didn't think it would happen for me to be honest."
But as the pink doors to her new business lead to the whimsical world inside the Cake Garden, you can see Mrs Collin's dreams have truly turned into a wall-to-wall reality.