"Each man should frame life so that at some future hour fact and his dreaming meet."
This quote from Victor Hugo assumes humans have everything to do with their own destinies. But often, as in the case of Sjanna Sharbatz, owner and creator of Sjanna's Cakery Kisses in White City, dreams draft behind unforeseen circumstances — their inception requiring travels down a road we wouldn't choose.
Three years ago, for Sjanna and her husband, Christopher, that road was rural Highway 234 on a dark night in Eagle Point. Sjanna was visiting her daughters in Las Vegas when she felt something was wrong. "I had a strong urge to call my husband."
He answered his cell, disoriented and in shock after having just slammed his Ford van into a horse in the road. Christopher never saw the beast until it landed on him. Crashing into the horse at 42 mph, the horse's head smashed through his windshield and hit Christopher's chest, leaving grass stains from its muzzle on his sweatshirt. Yes, the horse died. But Sjanna's husband survived.
Because money was tight, he opted to pass on an ambulance or a trip to the emergency room. For a year and a half, he couldn't run his tile business because of severe back and body pain.
When Sjanna returned home, she realized that she'd need to step up and find some way to pay the mounting bills. She'd worked as a blackjack dealer for 17 years in her hometown of Las Vegas, but that was 12 years prior. She was rusty. Because there wasn't much call for her expertise in Southern Oregon, she moved back to Nevada, where the Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino put her to work at the tables.
She drove back and forth, visiting when she could, and during one trip, the show "Cupcake Wars" came up in conversation. Sjanna imagined a new kind of cake product — petite, gourmet cakes drenched in chocolate. "Cake things" were born, and so was a childhood dream.
"When I was a little girl, I'd always wanted to be someone like Betty Crocker," said Sjanna. She needed to find a way to move back to the Rogue Valley, so with Christopher's encouragement, she began testing her "cake things" on co-workers at the casino. Her closest friend wouldn't believe she'd made them, knowing that Sjanna didn't bake. But her creations received enthusiastic raves wherever they went, including a first-place award for Best Use of Chocolate in a Baked Good at the 2012 Oregon Chocolate Festival in Ashland.
Sjanna now works from a gleaming commercial kitchen and storefront at 8336 Crater Lake Highway in White City, across from the veteran's rehabilitation center, and Christopher is back at work with his tile business.
"Everyone in Southern Oregon has been so supportive of my new business," she says. "I love my retail customers. They don't know it, but I think of them as my angels."
For more information, see the bakey website at www.cakerykisses.com