We had the good fortune of connecting with Caroline Bowen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Caroline, what do you want people to remember about you?
I want my legacy to be leaving the world happier than I found it! When you feed someone, you aren’t just feeding their body, you are feeding the whole person. You make them happy, You help them feel secure. The world is a happier and better place because they are fed! Especially when they are feed good, homemade treats! Life needs sweetness, it doesn’t just need nourishment, it needs Sweetness!
What should our readers know about your business?
My business name is Sweet Kaki’s. I am known for my delicious homemade apple pies. I also make seasonal pies. For example, in the summer I make fresh peach and blueberry pies. In the fall I make pumpkin, pecan, and a festive fruit pie. In February and March, I make a homemade cherry pie. My apple pie is my centerpiece pie and it is available all year long. What sets my pies apart from the rest is the fact that I make each pie with my own hands, with a lot of love. I am a one – woman cook, and I use an old family recipe. I simply love making each one. Each pie is truly homemade with basic, real ingredients like butter, sugar and flour. As far as taste, the pies are almost “cake like” in the middle. It is kind of like having extra ‘batter”. I peel each apple myself, each peach. I wash and dry each blueberry. With each bite, you get a mouthful of deliciousness from whichever pie you are eating. I’m asked the question often about how I got started in the pie business, especially since I have a “real” job that I love and have been doing for 19 years. Here is my story. On May 26, 2019, I had a heart attack. I came so close to death, with the odds not in my favor, yet I survived. It was a beautiful day on Lake Rabun where our family was on vacation. We were boating, tubing, swimming, & enjoying our picnic lunch at the boat dock. We were having a wonderful day. After lunch, I felt an odd feeling in my throat and chest. Nothing too crazy, kind of like my food was stuck in my chest. No biggie, right? So, we kept on going, enjoying the sunshine. As the day continued, the funny feeling never left my body. When we returned to the lake house, I took some over the counter medication in hopes to get rid of the odd kind of indigestion. Nothing helped. Then suddenly around 6pm, I was paralyzed with the most horrific pain that I have ever had in my life. It felt like someone was trying to push their foot straight through my chest, my body started sweating, my hair was soaking wet, and my hands were numb. All of these symptoms came on so fast and there was no relief from the pain. At that moment, I felt everything moving in slow motion. I thought I was going to collapse and die at that very moment. The pain was unbearable. My son, Kirby (15 at the time), stepped right in, just like a grown man and started caring for me. He remained calm, cool, and collected and his actions helped me remain calm. He and my husband and my mother-in-law contacted 911. However, the terror I witnessed on my daughter’s face (Mary Martin 9 at the time) made the situation very difficult for me. After the arrival of the EMT, everything started to move quickly. I was so lucky to have such wonderful medical professionals in my path that night. I was rushed to Mountain Lake Medical Center in Clayton. The ER doctor immediately made the call to life-flight me to North East Georgia in Gainesville. He knew exactly what medical services I needed, he knew I needed it fast, and he made it happen. He saved my life with that call – I will forever be grateful to him. The 19-minute helicopter ride to Gainesville was simply a surreal moment. All I could think about were my three children; my two earthly children (Kirby and Mary Martin) and my one heavenly angel (Burris). Children need their Mama and I certainly needed them. But I knew I was dying. As a perfectly healthy 50-year-old, I was dying. Grey clouds began to form in my head as I began to search for a special baby boy in heaven, Burris. (I have tears writing this part because I can feel every bit of this as I write this story.) I remember calling out Burris’ name and searching for him. I never found him. I remember the helicopter medic asking me who Burris was. Then, suddenly, I arrived at the hospital with medical professionals surrounding me. I was still searching and calling for Burris. I remember the nurse, at the left of my head, asked me who it was I was searching for. As I told her the story, she asked me if I saw Burris and with tears in my eyes, I told her no. She then asked me if I had any children on earth and as I answered her, she encouraged me to focus on Kirby and Mary Martin. I remember smiling as I told her about Kirby and Mary Martin. Next, I am in a recovery room. They saved me! I am alive! I survived from having a blood clot and a myocardial infarction of the left coronary artery. I Survived! It was not my time to go. I have a purpose to fulfill on earth. God is not ready for me yet! Why in the world am I sharing this story, you may ask? Sharing such an emotional story on this type of platform is not something I would normally do. It’s painful, deep, and so emotional for me, yet happy and thankful at the same. I’m sharing this story for several reasons: First, to remind all of you out there that heart disease is the #1 killer of women. The only symptom I had prior to the heart attack was being tired. What working/non-working mama isn’t tired, especially at the end of a school year?! Get your yearly checkups and watch for signs! Secondly, don’t have regrets. The ones that you say to yourself, “I wish I had done that.” I had a really hard time recovering from the heart attack. I just could not gain my strength back. I would have to take breaks while blow drying my hair. Folding the laundry was insanely difficult. I would even have to take a break walking from my bedroom to the kitchen. It was frustrating. As I would rest, I would think about the things that I wished I had done prior to my heart attack. One of those things was baking and selling my apple pies. I love to cook and bake. It brings me such joy. Food brings a family together at the supper table & being a part of that is special to me. Having a pie business “on the side” is something I have always wanted to do. But in that moment of healing, I could not imagine taking on another job. So, I told myself that if I ever regained my strength and energy back, I would go for it! Third, enjoy life. Wear your pretty pajamas and spray the heck out of your expensive perfume! I love PJ’s and I love a nice perfume. I have two types of PJ’s; one type that you can only wear in front of your family, and a pretty, fancy type that you wear when you travel. I know you may think that’s crazy, but that’s just my PJ issue. Now for perfume…for 22 years I have worn the same perfume. I love it! My husband and I found it on our honeymoon in London. I fell in love with it. Of course, it is a little expensive, so I have always been careful with how much I use. Not anymore!!!! Now when I go to bed at night, I have on my fancy PJ’s and I give myself a “healthy” spray of my fancy perfume. I go to bed happy and smelling lovely! I’m so blessed. I thank God daily for allowing me more time in this world. I’m thankful for life. I’m thankful for family and friends. I’m thankful for my strength and energy. I’m thankful that people love my Sweet Kaki’s apple pie and the little business I have started. I am thankful you have enjoyed my apple pie with your loved ones. I am thankful for your support. I simply can’t wait to share many celebrations and holidays with you. Sweet Kaki’s business started on April 6, 2020.I was absolutely blown away at the amount of business I received from day one. It was humbling and exciting and fun, all at the same time. People would order one pie, and come back the next day for 2 or 3 more pies. They were baking them for their families, sharing them as gifts and putting them in the freezer for later. They were sitting around the table with their family enjoying my pie. They were celebrating birthdays with Sweet Kaki’s pie! They were eating my pies with family at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can not imagine how happy that would make me and how honored I was!!! I truly believe that food brings people together and knowing that my pie has been a part of so many celebrations, makes me incredible happy. I work really hard to make this business a success. It has always been a dream and now it is a reality. So, I will continue to do just as I do, work hard and give my customers’ the best pie they will ever eat! When I make a Sweet Kaki’s pie, it is made fresh and then I freeze it immediately. I do that because I want my customers to have the freshest pie possible. So, when they get a pie from me, its frozen and they will have directions on how to bake it on their own. They can bake it right away, or it can keep in the freezer for up to six months. When you bake a Sweet Kaki’s pie in your own oven, you will thank me! At Sweet Kaki’s, we pride ourselves on relationships and connections. I want you to share your story with me; where this pie will be enjoyed: supper table for a special occasion, the birth of a baby, an anniversary or birthday celebration, death of a loved one, or just because. We love being a part of our customers special moments. Therefore, we offer Sweet Kaki’s Pie Drops to cities/towns within Georgia. This awards me the opportunity to meet each family that will enjoy a Sweet Kaki’s Pie. If you would like to host a Sweet Kaki’s Pie Drop in your town, contact us. We love Pie Drops! There is nothing artificial in my pies and there is nothing artificial in my life. I would love to meet you and have you try a Sweet Kaki’s Pie.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My all time favorite thing to do in Atlanta is to attend shows at the Fox Theatre. It makes me so happy to be inside of the gorgeous Fox and I love to take my kids so that they will learn to appreciate the fine arts. My favorite place to eat is Mary Mac’s tea room. I just adore their Pot Likker and cornbread dressing! I bought their cookbook so I could make the dressing anytime I feel like having a healthy serving. Who doesn’t enjoy a big ole slaw dog and a frosted orange from the Varsity too! Hiking Stone Mountain is always a fun adventure and I love to visit the Margaret Mitchell house where Gone with the Wind was written. A big treat is going to the Sun Dial Restaurant and enjoying a delicious meal while seeing a wonderful view of Atlanta from the restaurant. Seeing the gold dome of our State Capital is beautiful, as well as a tour of the Governor’s Mansion. For a fun shopping and dinning experience, I love to go to Ponce City Market.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My Mama! One of my fondest memories as a child, is sitting around our old oak table as a family, having meals and sharing our day. My Mama is the BEST cook. She would always have delicious, hot meals and a yummy dessert at our supper table. You would not ever want to miss one of her meals! It was a special time. We would sit and talk and solve all the worlds problem. We all bonded around the old oak table. Food is what brings families together, where memories are made and where problems are solved, and where the greatest love is felt and built. When I got my first real job out of college, and moved away from home. I had no idea how to cook. I remember my mama was worried to death about my starving. I hated anything related to the kitchen, much less cooking. I moved to the big city of Atlanta and I was scared to go out much, so I thought I would learn to cook. Well, that was a joke! I remember specifically wanting a baked potato one night and I had to call my mama and ask her how to microwave a potato. It was quite pitiful! After kind of baking a potato, I got a little brave and decided to try other things. Needless to say, I called my mama everyday with “how do you cook……..”. Bless her heart, she was always there to help. On my wedding day, mama gave me a handwritten cookbook of all of our family favorite recipes that we ate sitting around that old oak table. There were also some of both of my grandmother’s recipes in there too. She even illustrated (for me) how to cut the ears out of our family favorite Easter Bunny Cake! The cookbook has been my most treasured gift that I have ever received. I use it all the time and I treasure it with all of my heart. The apple pie recipe was in the cookbook. After several years of being married, I started baking the apple pie. My family loved it and I soon started baking them all the time. I would have one every Friday night for my family, I would give them as gifts, take them to parties, to church, to teachers. Then I would start making them in batches. I remember my husband coming in late one night from work and I was making about 15 pies in our kitchen. He looked at me and said Caroline, why in the world do you have so many pies? I told him it was just as easy to make 15 pies as it was to make 1, so why not? Besides that, a southern lady can never be too prepared. I needed several in the freezer for unexpected company. That’s how it all started. Food is in the heart of my home; thanks to the many lessons I have learned from my mama. Food brings people together and I truly believe the best memories are made around the table.
Facebook: Sweet Kaki’s
Amanda Duke of Duke&Co Media www.dukeandcomedia.com