The Places You’ll Go
Oh! The places you’ll go! You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the highfliers who soar to high heights.” —Dr. Seuss
Little did Tareka Lofton know how true these words from Dr. Seuss’s well-known children’s book would be when she was a little girl growing up in Texarkana. She could not imagine the sights she would see or to what heights her natural talent, creativity, and work ethic would take her.
Lofton’s parents were well-loved and respected members of the Texarkana community. Her father, Superintendent Mickey D. Lofton, was a pastor, and her mother, Emma Lofton, owned Lofton Beauty Salon on State Line for almost 35 years. “I come from a family of strong entrepreneurs. My grandmother was a master baker. She knew how to bake pies, cakes, and custards. Everything I would be formally trained to do—she knew how to do it,” Lofton said. “My mother owned a beauty salon, so I grew up knowing it was possible. I feel very fortunate because every young girl does not always see that demonstrated.”
Lofton grew up with her two sisters on the Arkansas side of Texarkana and attended Kilpatrick Elementary School, North Heights Junior High School, and Arkansas High School. Though baking is something Lofton has always been passionate about, she was not known for that growing up in Texarkana. She was, however, known for singing around town at local churches and events. “The love of baking,” she shared, “was only a hobby I did in my spare time.”
When she was 28, Lofton left Texarkana and moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but even now, she reminisces fondly, “Texarkana will always be my home, my foundation. The people, the town charm. I have enough memories to last a lifetime.”
After moving, she became laser-focused on her future and what she believes is her true purpose. “What could I do with my life that would be fulfilling while bringing joy and inspiration to others?” she wondered. It was then she got serious about her passion and started attending culinary school, aspiring to one day own her own bakery. She enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu Dallas. Eagerly, even before starting school, Lofton began working and planning for her future bakery. She wanted to name it Loft 22 Cakes; Loft would be for her last name and the 22 for her birthday on September 22, which she calls her “purpose day.” She believes wholeheartedly that Loft 22 is her purpose. “Loft 22 is me doing what I was born to do,” she humbly shared.
Opening her own business came with challenges. It was a long road to open a storefront, but after years of “practice, prayers, butter, sweat, and tears,” in February 2017, Lofton opened the doors of Loft 22 Cakes, her own premier bakery. “I wanted to inspire the generations coming along behind me and make my hometown of Texarkana proud,” she said. “Creativity for designing the cakes came pretty naturally, as I am a visual artist and have always sold drawings, paintings, and pottery sculptures. As a matter of fact,” she continued, “there is a pottery piece the [Texarkana] Arkansas School District purchased from me my senior year of high school that is still on display.”
When the pandemic hit in 2020, everything began shutting down, and no one was gathering for events. Lofton’s sales were basically gone, and she feared she would have to close her doors. Gathering all the grit and determination within her, she created what she called “tissue paper cakes.” These cakes, intended to be a fun and humorous way to distract and navigate through a very trying time, exploded locally in Fort Worth and made the National Broadcasting Center’s local news. This led to her cakes being picked up by the national news and the Today Show, where they did a brief segment about them. From April to August 2020, Lofton sold cakes to people all over the country. This stroke of luck truly sustained her through those scary times and was indeed an answer to her prayers.
“Over the years of owning Loft 22, I have relied on my faith and God-given gifts to take business to new levels,” Lofton said. She has been a part of many amazing opportunities, including being chosen to be part of the Dr. Seuss Baking Challenge on Amazon Prime Video. She was sent an email about the show, and after some thought, she applied. The producers of the show reached out to her after being intrigued by her unique, artsy, and edgy cake designs showcased through her Instagram content. After they interviewed her, they quickly fell in love with her genuine, down-to-earth, friendly, and bubbly personality, and Amazon Prime Video selected her for the show. “It was an exciting yet overwhelming experience that I will never forget. Coming from a small town like Texarkana to being on Amazon Prime Video with the world watching was the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Since then, many more doors have opened, and incredible opportunities have continued to come. Disney’s Broadway headquarters from New York called recently and asked Lofton to provide sweets for the almost 200 cast members of the musical The Lion King’s production crew during their final show in Fort Worth. Her yummy cupcakes, cookies with Lion King symbols, and delicious banana pudding cups were an enormous hit! “Disney has intentionally supported minority-owned businesses as they travel, and we love them all the more for it,” she said.
Even though Tareka Lofton is still determining what the future holds for Loft 22, she works tirelessly to continue her success. Her proven track record suggests her hard work will continue to result in tremendous accomplishments and there is much to look forward to on the horizon. Her focus on making others happy through her work reveals her true nature and boosts her ability to appeal to customers. She enthusiastically shared, “I just love to be a part of creating special memories for people in my community… whether it’s a wedding, whether it’s a birthday… we will make a cake for that. Everything pairs well with cake! I want to give back to my community!” From the outside looking in, it’s safe to say that Lofton is soaring to new heights, and she is definitely making her hometown proud!
Read more about Tareka in “TXK Roots.”