NatiCakes offering gift cards with benefits

VIENNA – Something sweet with something sad.

Nicole Sloane said that is what her business, Naticakes, is all about, other than making life a little sweeter.

Sloane helped to launch the Natalie Wynn Carter Foundation in 2007, a nonprofit agency, to honor her niece “Nati” who passed away at 23 months old, unexpectedly.

Natalie’s parents Bryan and Erika Carter wanted to make something good come from the passing of their daughter.

Sloane said after starting the charity she wanted to do more to reach out to communities and get involved in the lives of children.

It’s not just a yogurt shop, she said of her business at 1515 Grand Central Ave., Vienna, in the former Cold Stone Creamery location.

Naticakes is a self-serve frozen yogurt shop that was introduced to the Parkersburg/Vienna area last November.

Sloane said it just made sense for her to bring her business to the area and West Virginia.

The yogurt shop has locations in Clarksburg and Morgantown as well as Tennessee and Kentucky, she said.

The first shop opened in Franklin, Tenn., and Sloane and her husband, Michael, decided to branch out into other areas of business, as well as other states. That’s when Sloane decided to piece into the West Virginia market. She said it made sense to establish her business in the third largest city in the state.

The business’ name and venture began when Natalie, a young girl with a sweet tooth, passed away in her sleep of a blocked coronary artery.

The foundation was born but Sloane said she wanted to be able to honor her niece in another way.

“If you couldn’t find (Natalie) she was in the pantry stuffing her little chubby cheeks with marshmallows,” Sloane said of her niece. “It’s creating your own dessert experience; whatever your mood.”

The shabby-chique look of the shop is evident in each store location, she said. There will be no doubt where customers are should they venture in to get a one-size-fits-all bowl of the frozen treat.

From the vintage and recycled furniture to the baby blue and white color palette, Sloane said she wanted to keep a staple theme throughout the store. A nostalgic feel is meant to create the feeling of relaxation, she said.

Sloane attended the University of Kentucky where she studied communications and had an internship for a television station, she said. She quickly learned that her talents and heart lay in the business of philanthropy and soon partnered with her husband to make their dreams a reality by becoming part of businesses that bettered their local communities.

“We just really want to make an impact on (each) community,” she said.

Jill Johnson, of Vienna, and one of her grandchildren were visiting the yogurt shop a few weeks ago and discovered the story of Natalie. Johnson said she eventually spoke with Sloane about her niece and realized the two shared a similar interest, hearts.

Johnson’s 9-year-old granddaughter Teagan DeMoss was born with a congenital heart defect. Doctors told her family she would probably need surgery to correct the problem by the time she was 2 or 3 years old, Johnson said.

However, at only 4 months old DeMoss suffered from congestive heart failure and at 6 months the family was on its way to Morgantown for emergency surgery, she said. DeMoss and her family were lucky; she has made an almost full recovery but regularly sees her doctor.

After making the connection with Sloane, Johnson knew it was meant to be that she had stepped into the yogurt shop.

“I was so impressed with her, I get excited over fundraising,” Johnson said of Sloane. “The more we shared our story it was just like it was meant to be.”

The two decided to team up to sell gift cards for Naticakes while Sloane would send a third of the money to sponsor DeMoss in the annual Wood-Washington Heart Walk. The gift cards will be sold for $15, face value, and customers will receive full benefits, Johnson said.

However, $5 of each card will be donated to DeMoss and her family to use in the heart walk.

Johnson said she is glad her granddaughter can learn about giving back to her community.

“It makes her realize how important it is to give back,” Johnson said. “It’s not like we have a big team, but it has been great too because it has pulled us together as a family.”

DeMoss participated in the walk last year for the tenth time and raised more than $8,200 for the heart association.

“We feel we want to keep giving back to the heart association so they can help others (through) more research,” Johnson added.

For more information on the gift cards contact Jill Johnson at 304-482-7139.