The owner of a bakery in Ferguson, Missouri, said she is in awe of the support she received after rioters on Monday smashed the windows and damaged some kitchen equipment in her small shop.
Natalie DuBose, a 32-year-old mother of two, owns Natalie’s Cake’s & More at 100 S. Florissant Rd., which opened in early June. DuBose told NBC News Wednesday that baking and cake decorating have always been a passion, but they didn't become a full-time job until earlier this year, when she finally saved enough to open her store.
"Everything that I invested, it came from me saving money through bake sales. Sometimes I couldn't buy a pair of tennis shoes because I wanted to make sure I had enough money to buy a bucket of icing," she said. "It was an investment all around. I always had to work at least two jobs. I never just had just one job because my dream was always to have my own bakery."
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The cake shop wasn't spared when violent protests erupted on Monday, triggered by a grand jury decision not to indict a white Ferguson police officer for killing unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in August.
“I did a lot of sacrificing on my own in order to get things, that’s why I am determined that I am not going anywhere. I've invested so much and my heart is in this."
DuBose said her heart sank when she surveyed the damage. "Hurt is the only word I could really describe," she said. "I was like, 'Wow, you guys really just didn't care, you didn't care, and this affects whether I can feed my children or not, and you just bust through the window with a chair.'"
A friend suggested she start an online campaign to raise funds to clean up and repair her bakery, but DuBose was taken aback by the response she got. By late Wednesday, the GoFundMe campaign raised nearly $200,000.
"I am so grateful and appreciate it. I just cant express it," she said. "People have been showing love through the phone, leaving prayers, leaving songs — it’s been absolutely amazing."
Many area business owners are debating whether to keep their stores open after the second round of violent riots this year, but DuBose said she is determined to stay, because the bakery is "like a baby."
And she couldn't quit even if she wanted to, as orders for the holidays are piling up. DuBose said she received 50 orders for Thanksgiving and has seen more customers than ever.
"I did a lot of sacrificing on my own in order to get things, that’s why I am determined that I am not going anywhere. I've invested so much and my heart is in this," she said.