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Getting your product placed in a major motion picture like “The Help” is no small accomplishment. In fact, for Caroline Ragsdale, owner of Caroline’s Cakes, the recent success of having her signature seven-layer caramel cake featured in the movie was a result of decades of development, hard work and sheer determination.

Ragsdale will be sharing her business story with the public on Wednesday, November 14 at the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics at the University of South Carolina Upstate. Open to the public, the event includes breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and her presentation at 8 a.m.

Ragsdale’s story started in 1982 when she served her first seven-layer caramel cake at her son’s christening. It was so popular that soon she was fielding requests for more cakes. Working from her home kitchen, she made the cakes, and on word-of-mouth referrals, she soon had customers from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii. The turning point for Caroline’s Cakes came when Ragdsale received an order for 2,000 cakes to be used as corporate gifts.

As the company grew, she expanded into different types of cakes, cupcakes and other delicious confections, and added a catering component.  In addition to a bakery and storefront in Annapolis, Md., in October she opened a bakery in Spartanburg on Beaumont Avenue which will serve as the company’s main baking and shipping center.

“Everyone in Spartanburg has been so gracious and supportive of me,” notes Ragsdale, as she prepares to open her new bakery. Until she secures a store-front, Bellews Market, a few doors down in Beaumont Mills, will be carrying her cakes for sale, or orders may be placed online at www.carolinescakes.com.

Caroline’s Cakes employs between 10 and 75 people depending on the season, ships 75,000 cakes a year, and has been featured in Desserts, Southern Living, Country Living and Town & Country Magazines. The company has been covered by the Food Network and the cakes are featured on Oprah Magazine’s “The Favorite Things List.”

A native of Lake City, S.C., Ragsdale is the first female business executive to be featured in this popular Wells Fargo Speaker Series.

“We are thrilled to have Caroline speak at this forum,” says Bea Walters Smith, director of development at USC Upstate. “Caroline is self-made, and she gives you the feeling that ‘you can do it.’ She puts her name and reputation on each cake. And she also has a wonderful business and customer service philosophy that she will share, in addition to slices of her signature cake.”

Reservations are required by November 12 by contacting Bea Walters Smith, (864) 503-5235 or bwsmith@uscupstate.edu.

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