We had the good fortune of connecting with Erika Hossain and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Erika, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Initially, I didn’t want to start my own business. It was something I had never pictured myself doing. I’ve been in the baking industry for a long time and have worked for a variety of companies and business owners. I saw the advantages and disadvantages of running a business. I saw the stress and the long hours they worked, leaving no time for family or activities. It was something I promised myself I’d never do! Each job has taught me something about myself. That one, I am capable; two, I am creative; three, I am hardworking; and four, I was always the yes person, which proved to be my undoing. I became tired of being taken advantage of. My husband saw this and encouraged me to start my own business. I brushed it off. At the time, I was working as a cake decorator, creating custom cakes and wedding cakes. Even though that was my dream, the idea of establishing a cake business of my own wasn’t appealing to me. The work was already stressful. I do love making cakes, but I was tired of working for people who didn’t value me. I honestly felt stuck.
To relive some stress, I would go to the gym. The gym I’d go to has a lot of bodybuilders. These bodybuilders discovered that I was a baker and asked about ordering treats after their show, specifically cookies. I’ve spoken with and gotten to know a number of bodybuilders. I’ve never competed, but I have family and friends in the industry. These bodybuilders put in the work, from sticking to their meal plan, going to the gym, working to pay their bills, spending time with loved ones and just dealing with life’s obstacles. When they go on stage, you can tell how dedicated these people are. And I truly admire them for this reason. After their show, I’d get compliments on my cookies, which made me happy knowing I was able to make there day that much sweeter. This prompted me to bake more and experiment with different flavors. As a cake decorator, I wanted to add a personal touch to the cookies so that they not only tasted good but looked pretty too.
All of this got me enthusiastic about baking again. My husband saw this and encouraged me again to establish my own business. Without his and my friend’s encouragement, I wouldn’t have taken the risk.

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Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We get asked a lot about why we chose the name Barbells Bake Shop.
The named stemmed from my love of lifting weights and baking.
Barbells Bake Shop believes in treating yourself while working hard to achieve your goals, whether they be fitness, financial, or business related. No matter how big or small, we are here to remind you that it’s okay to treat yourself every now and then. Life is all about balance. Work hard when you can, but don’t forget to celebrate and appreciate even the small wins because life is too short not to.

We also get asked, what do we sell?
We sell uniquely flavored gourmet cookies, brownies, and more!
Currently, it is just my husband and I who run this business. He assists with majority of the technical components, while I handle all the baking, content creation, and the financial aspects. Since it’s just me baking all these amazing treats, I am limited in what I can accomplish, but as the business continues to grow, I would like to experiment with more flavors and merchandise.
I am proud to say that I make specialty cookies primarily from scratch and by hand. A lot of work and time goes into making these delicious treats that people don’t realize. My first couple of orders were the classic chocolate chip, oatmeal and sugar cookies. But I wanted to experiment. I am Filipino-American and currently live in Fort Worth, Texas for the last 6 years. What I struggle the most with is cultural representation. That was when I decided that I had to experiment with flavors that I grew up with like ube and pandan so that people in my area could have an idea of what they are. Since I started making Ube cookies, I’ve had a lot of queries about them, such as why they’re purple and what they taste like. I get excited and happy to explain it to them. I have come up with over 30 different flavors of cookies, and it won’t stop there.
Barbells Bake Shop is over a year old. Starting out wasn’t easy, but I understood that going in. I wasn’t sure what the first step would be or if I was making the best decisions. I had no previous experience. All I knew was how to bake and decorate. But sometimes you just must take the plunge and start. I knew I had a fantastic product; I just needed to get my products out there. I originally began baking in my home and as of then I was making treats on the side by word of mouth. I wasn’t getting a ton of orders so I started producing more content on Instagram and became consistent with it. Eventually, one of my reels reached over 2 million views, and just recently, Barbells Bake Shop reached 100K followers on Instagram. My husband and I were thrilled! More orders started trickling in and we decided baking at home was no longer ideal. I didn’t want to open a store front just yet. I looked into using a commercial kitchen and that’s where I’m currently at. However, we quickly discovered that having a large number of followers does not always equate to increased revenue. It certainly helped us get our name out there, but I wouldn’t base our strategy just on gaining followers. Again, we are still a small business, and while I want it to develop quickly, I am still learning what to do and what not to do. And I want to make as many mistakes as possible now, rather than when the company is too large for me to manage.

Another lesson I learned is that not many people will like you and what you represent. I have received neuromeres negative remarks both online and in person. All I’m attempting to convey is that life is about balance. I got into the cookie business because I had a lot of clients who are in the bodybuilding industry requesting treats after their show. Seeing these people at the gym put in the work inspired me to train harder at the gym. Even though bodybuilding isn’t something I see myself doing, it is something I do admire because what you do see are individuals who are determined and hard-working. When they first get off that stage, I want them to have the best experience of having that first bite of one of my cookies and just know all that work was worth it. That’s why I put a lot of thought, time, and quality ingredients into my cookies.

Even though I’m not where I want to be, I have friends, family, and devoted customers who remind me to appreciate the small things, which has kept me going. There have been numerous moments when I wanted to quit.Then I get a reminder from someone trying one of my cookies, and having them say it was one of the best things they have ever eaten just makes my day.

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Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I have lived in the DFW area for a little over 5 years. I feel like there is still so much more to explore. Since a lot of our friends who have visited love working out I will incorporate some gyms to go to.

Day 1:

Fort Worth Zoo- feed and pet giraffes

Trinity River-you can ride bikes, kayak, grab coffee and eat out on one of the patios at one of the many restaurants in that area.

Day 2:

Deep Ellum: walk around and shop at some local places and bookstores. They have some interesting street art to look at. And they also have great restaurants to choose from.

Day 3:

Check out John Reed Fitness in Dallas.

Terry Black’s BBQ: even though we haven’t tried the new location in Dallas but the one in Austin. Long wait but totally worth it.

Day 4:

Sandbox VR: great place to take friends or the family to play games.

Check out the Stockyards for some food and local shops.

Ático Rooftop Bar: end the night with tapas and drinks

Day 5:

Carrollton: we love visiting this area mainly for KBBQ and to grab some Asian inspired desserts.

Chill Coffee Bar: recommend getting the Ube Latte

Day 6:

Check out the Fort Worth Garden

Then head to Sundance Square, they have a lot of shops and restaurants to choose from.

Day 7:

Fort Worth Botanical Garden-they have held special events throughout the year. My favorite is the Japanese Festival. They also feature different types of artworks and it’s a great place to take pictures.

Hush: goodbye dinner. They offer fresh and one of the most delicious sushi I have ever tried.

Head over to Atlas for drinks.

Fill-Ins and if we have time for:


Le Rêve: viral croissants and gelato

-Coffee Shops

La La Land Kind Café: I love that they hire and support people in foster care.

Melbys’s: they have one of the best matcha lattes.

Pax & Beneficia Coffee: have great Turkish coffee.


Coco Shrimp: for something quick

Wabi House: for ramen.

Velvet Taco: late night and uniquely flavored tacos.

Maestro Tacos: for more traditional tacos and margaritas

Namaste Grill & Bar- Indian Food

Swad- Indian Food

Ziziki’s- Greek food. But it must be the one in Dallas. The food tasted better there.

Gyms- We have a lot of friends who have come into town and want to get a workout in so we recommend going to one of these gym and grab a day pass at any of these locations: Absolute Recomp, Fox Fitness Hidden Gym. I haven’t gone but Would love to try out MetroFlex.

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The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to give a shout to my family and friends, of course! Without them, Barbells Bake Shop wouldn’t exist. 

My husband, Mo, certainly deserves a lot of credit. He is my number one supporter. He has been there since the very beginning. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. He works full-time yet is still able to assist me when he can. He has helped me pack orders, helped with all the technical aspect of running a business, washed MANY dishes (which I despise), and has seen me breakdown countless times when certain situations don’t go as planned. I am an emotional being, and he thinks more logically, so it is reassuring to know that if I am feeling overwhelmed, he can talk me through it. I’m grateful to have someone like him on my corner.

I’d want to acknowledge our best friends, The Tuttles. They have supported my small business since before it was established. They were among the first to place an order with me and remain loyal customers today. They believed in my business and even assisted me in taking the first steps towards making it official. They also assisted me with pop-up events and provided financial and business guidance. When your friends want to help and see you succeed, you know you’re among the right people.

My mentor and friend Rana. She was tough, but she taught me how to be a better, more efficient baker. She never took crap from anyone and always had my back. She embodies resilience.

Even though I don’t see them often, my little sister and mother always make an effort to see how I’m doing, ask what I need for the business, and even send me some items that they think I might need.

Website: https://www.barbellsbakeshop.com

Instagram: @barbellsbakeshop

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Image Credits
Mohammad Hossain
Felix Quinones

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.