2022 Insights from Shirley Hughes

Will you be joining us for the PINK Power Alliance this Thursday, January 13, 2022, at 12:00 p.m. Eastern time?

Here, our team of experts and top executives tackle the most pressing women at work issues. You’ll meet your allies, expand your network, work with great coaches and gain valuable takeaways… things you can do now to advance your career today.

One of the featured speakers is Shirely Hughes, the owner of Sweet Cheats. Recently, she shared her insights with us:

Shirley Hughes of Sweet Cheats1. Please list 3-5 very specific things women can do now to improve their chance of success.

• I had to think of this for a bit before answering. I’m in an industry that is majority women. So it wasn’t about me separating myself from a field of men. It was about separating myself and making sure I AM successful.

I believe that understanding yourself, as an equal individual to everyone, including other women, is what drives success. Confidence in yourself if important. Set yourself apart from others and just be “you.” You never know who is watching and learning from you.

• Working hard and utilizing your talent!

It has been said what you put into a project or a job, is what you get out of it. I grind and I grind a lot. There are a lot of talented pastry chefs and bakers out there. What will set you apart the hard work you put into your business. Even if it’s not yours. It will get noticed. In my world of baking, I am in the bakery before my first employee comes in. Sometimes that requires me to be in at 430 in the morning. And majority of the time, I am one of the last to leave.

I’m self-taught and I did not go to culinary school. My degree is in Art History. I’m a visual person and can relate to artists and collector on many different scales. But I could not draw nor paint. When I got directed into this path, I worked hard to learn techniques and processes. Talent will get certainly get you to a point. But you can have all the talent in the world, if you don’t have the work ethic behind it, you can forget it. I read Mary Barra’s speech (CEO of GM) about leadership and hard work. She emphasized “Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard!”

• Pulling the trigger to make something happen without knowing if it’s feasible or not.

Shirley Hughes of Sweet Cheats

I have been told many times I say “yes” to clients before I even know if I can do it successfully. I will say “yes” before I really know how it’s going to happen. It refers to the point above. If I don’t know the technique on a cake, I will teach myself how to do and quickly. If I say “yes” to an order of 1000 cake pops that need to match a specific pantone color for a company AND individually wrapped them, do KNOW I will make that happen…I will figure out logistics as I go along. This to say that it’s about confidence and knowing you can/will take it on. The only way to know if you can do something is to try it. If you fail, you take that experience and learn by it. That’s how you grow.

2. What were the biggest obstacles for you?

The biggest obstacle for me was me. I needed to realize my self worth. I didn’t give myself the proper valuation. I doubted how much my products and services should be.

3. What helped you break through?

I finally broke through this when my “tribe” sat me down and told me I was underselling myself and my product. They told me that the work I was doing was unique and I was not charging enough. I decided the next day that I needed to work on this. I started believing in my own value and understanding, I’m worth it.


The daughter of a retired US Air Force Master Sergeant, Shirley Hughes is a native of Cebu City, Philippines and has lived in Japan, California, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina and now Georgia. Her multi-cultural background afforded Shirley exposure to many different influences of the culinary world. In 2011, she opened Sweet Cheats, a small specialty bakery in Cabbagetown, following her years in the bodybuilding world. She would bring wholesome home-baked goods for herself and teammates following competitions – – a sweet cheat before training started up again.

Nestled in the center of the Cabbagetown neighborhood, Sweet Cheats is a mainstay for coffee, breakfast, lunch, sweet treats, specialty cakes and huge community support. Shirley and staff donate time, resources, product and funds to numerous local charities and events.

Shirley’s BA in art history from the College of Charleston has served she and her clients well, which shows up in the artistic techniques of her baked goods.


Don’t miss out! Register now tolearn more from Tapaswee Chandele and our other speakers during the PINK POWER ALLIANCE ON 1/13/22 here.


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