All in the Family is a series that highlights the classic American small business story — one started and run by families. From spouse duos to multi-generation leadership, Invoice2go celebrates the funny, frustrating, and fulfilling stories that come from working with family.
Not many people have to worry about how to make apples look like basketballs. Even fewer do this while simultaneously planning a fundraiser and driving their son to the hospital for a cerebral palsy treatment. But for Kristin Curtis, this is a normal day. She owns Desserts 4 Dequan, a home-based bakery that she runs to fund her son Dequan’s treatment, as well as fund-raise for other children with disabilities.
We spoke after she had just completed her latest challenge—a client asking her for desserts that looked like basketballs. For this, she created candy apples with delicate chocolate that perfectly fit the occasion. Says Kristin, “the best part of my day—what makes the sore feet and the mess I create all worth it—is when I see the look on my customer’s face. They got just what they wanted.”
She was inspired to join the world of baked goods by her family. Kristin’s mother owned a bakery and the same strong familial spirit has stayed a constant in this new generation of delicious confections. Family serves as the direct inspiration for Kristin, starting with her twin sons who were born premature. At 10 months old, one of her sons, Dequan, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and 15 years later is living a wonderfully fulfilling life, thanks to the dedication of his mom to making him feel normal. “I want him to wake up every morning feeling worthy. He fights so hard, and I want him to know that he’s great,” says Kristin.
But even with a focus on Dequan, Kristin has never stopped caring about the lives of other families in the hospital. When she started catering desserts for small events and local organizations that were based at the hospital, she got the idea to turn Desserts 4 Dequan into a source of hope and support for all children with disabilities. Last year, she held a back-to-school fundraiser to get school materials for children in the hospital. She had realized that most parents were only thinking about how to get through the days of treatment, and not about the one to two hours of tutoring the kids get each day. By collecting pencils, notebooks, and other school supplies, she says, “now the kids can feel normal, like they’re in school, not a hospital.”
Kristin hopes to expand Desserts 4 Dequan so that she can help as many families as possible. As she looks for a physical location for the bakery, Kristin is excited about the future, saying “I am so grateful for the support system we have, but I know not all kids get that. As we grow, we can be a voice for others, and get the word out that all kids with disabilities matter.”
Even with growth in the future, Kristin is sure to keep the business family centered. Dequan’s brother’s football team volunteers to help with fundraisers, and everyone gives input on the menu and new flavors to try. Says Kristin, “my family knows the love I put in all my work, and they’re always there to help when I need them.” Her whole family appreciates the smiles on faces of people they help. With their help, Kristin is able to be an advocate for others, and keep Dequan happy along the way. As she puts it, “I know what it feels like to not have something— money, a friend, someone to talk to— and when I can take away that pain from someone, even for a minute, it’s amazing. It’s why I do what I do.”