Woman-owned businesses team up during the pandemic to survive | The Rebound Tampa Bay

Rustic Love and Cake Girl team up
Posted at 8:13 AM, Apr 24, 2020

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Its arts and crafts meet dessert in Carrollwood. Two business owners with two very different customer bases teamed up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chi Chi Crocker’s family had been preparing for the opening of their furniture store, Rustic Love Vintage & More for years. Their timing couldn’t have been worse.

“Our grand opening was supposed to have been done on April 4," said Crocker. "Because of the pandemic we were like frozen. We couldn’t do anything."

Two storefronts down, the alarm is also going off at Kristina Lavallee’s new bakery, The Cake Girl. She has only been open in the location since June.

“A lot of orders as far as wedding cakes, birthday cakes, everything just started being canceled so it hurt our business a lot,” said Lavallee.

So these two women, brought together by a common plaza and mutual drive to succeed, decided to work together. Lavallee invited Crocker to contribute to her up and coming Do It Yourself Kits that are now on sale.

“We were very shocked, and excited at the same time, for someone to want to reach out and try to help us,” said Crocker.

Each kit comes with 12 mini cup cakes, icing and toppings from The Cake Girl. You also get your choice of one of four wooden decoration, paint and a brush courtesy of Rustic Love. It’s a one-two creative combo for families.

“Gets them off the TV, off the video games, for a little while, and then they have something to do, to be creative, and to say, ‘hey I can always remember I did this back when the Coronavirus was alive,” said Crocker.

These small business owners said they have a natural ability to get along and share ideas. It might have something to do with their backgrounds. Lavallee is from Puerto Rico and Crocker is from Cuba.

“Knowing that we are both Spanish, the first thing obviously is family, so we became a really good family,” said Lavallee.

For more information on these businesses and the Do It Yourself Kits go to or