When Marilyn Chilton was a young girl, her mother and aunt made Easter Eggs every year for their children and friends. She would watch them make, then mold, the buttercream center into egg shapes and decorate them with drop flowers, leaves, a border and then they would personalize each one. This is what sparked the desire to learn to do learn cake decorating. Later, after she got married and had her first two children, she decided to make the Easter eggs for them, using the old fashioned metal plunger to decorate them. Many years later, after having four children, she began taking classes at the local community recreation center, ordering most of her supplies from catalogues. It was hard to find the cake decorating supplies in stores. The seed was planted to open her own shop.
With little money to invest, Marilyn decided to start giving cake decorating lessons with home decorating parties. She bought 12 or so Wilton Yearbooks, booked these parties with a couple of friends and begin to take orders. She quickly learned that in order to work with Wilton, one has to order quantities of 6 or 12. All her profit was sitting in the garage, hoping that someone else would order something that she had on hand. Eventually Marilyn and her husband decided to invest $5,000 to open a shop. Her dream came alive in the Fairfield Shopping Center in Virginia Beach, in June of 1980. With the help of her brother, who made the shelves for merchandise, a cash box, and a small classroom, Party Cakes 'n Things became a reality. The merchandise was spread around to make those shelves look fuller. The hard work paid off. As time went by, we needed more room, and rented the space next door. We even ventured in the idea of having two locations. Early on, a second store, run by Marilyn's Aunt Shirley, was opened in the Churchland section of Portsmouth. Unfortunately, the sales just couldn't support having a store in that location. A few more years later, another store was open on Lynnhaven Parkway in Virginia Beach, which was run by Marilyn's daughter, Cathy. Throughout the years, Marilyn kept working hard, teaching with her ever so patient ways, encouraging all, who tried, to make cakes and candies for their friends and families. With two stores opened, she was running between both shops teaching, almost every night. Eventually, life called Cathy to other adventures and the decision was made to close the Lynnhaven store. In that same period, we also moved to Kempsriver Shopping Center, in Virginia Beach, where we remain today.
To satisfy her lust for learning new sugar artistry, Marilyn took classes from world-renowned instructors like Mildred Brand, Betty Loyd, Geraldine Randlesome, Gloria Griffin,Nicholas Lodge and many others. We even had Julie Bashore come teach a class for us on using Rolled Fondant, long before it became popular. Marilyn traveled all over the world, attending many ICES conventions and taking all the classes she could, to be able to bring the love of the sugar arts to the Virginia Beach area.
In 1998, more family members came into the business, Marilyn's son Bill and daughter-in-law, Julene. As Bill was finishing his 20-year service in the Coast Guard, Julene came to learn what she could in running the shop, so that Marilyn could retire. In 2001, Marilyn put on her "I'm Retired" hat and Julene continues to take care of the business to this day. Other generations have joined the ranks through the years, with Susan, Bill & Julene's daughter, working with us as well as the occasional help from their grandchildren. We are proud to say that the fourth generation can't wait to learn this fun hobby to take care of our favorite people, the customers.