Durham man takes advantage of second chance, opens successful bakery

DURHAM N.C. (WNCN) – It’s rare that people get a second chance in life, but one man in Durham is taking advantage of his.

Keijuane Hester is the owner of Favor Desserts in Durham.

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When you walk into the shop you can normally find a line of customers waiting to get a bite of his sweet treats, but you will not find Hester in the front. He will most likely be in the kitchen baking up his famous homemade cakes from scratch. However, Keijuane’s road to success did not start out so sweet.

“While I was in high school, I got off on the wrong track. I ended up selling drugs,” Hester said.

Hester admits he was caught up in the wrong crowd. Shortly after high school, he was locked up for four years. He says being in jail was what he needed to make a change.

“That was my turning point. God said this is it,” Hester said. “While I was there, I learned to start baking and turned my life around.”

After he was released from prison, he felt the odds were stacked against him. Having a criminal record made it tough for him to find work. He said the stigma that comes with being an ex-felon followed him from job to job.

“I was laid off my job, I went to one interview doing the same type of work – they called me back and said I didn’t get the job. And I knew I had to step out on my gift,” said Keijaune.

His gift? Baking. He started baking out his home and sold his treats to local salon and barber shops. Before he knew it, he had enough money saved up to open his first shop. There, you can find him and his team baking up his famous pound cakes and cupcakes. Just like Hester, many of his employees come from tarnished backgrounds.

“He’s a good guy, gave me an opportunity, our situations are similar. I was released from prison and he hired me. A blessing in a blessing,” his employee Convellus Parker told CBS North Carolina.

Keijaune knew how difficult it was to find a job with a criminal record. He also knew he had the opportunity to give people like himself a second chance.

“I wanted to turn my life around and inspire someone else, you know. If you put in enough effort the way you were doing negative into positive you can be successful,” Hester explained. “I think we’re all entitled to a second chance. That’s what grace is all about, that’s what life is all about.”

From his business model of giving second chances to his delicious cakes, pound for pound he’s the best in town. That’s what makes Keijaune uniquely North Carolina.

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