Out and About WRAL.com

— Barbara Nigro helped her parents realize their dream of starting a pizzeria a few years ago. Now she’s taken a leap of faith and opened her own bakery at Durham Food Hall.

Not too long ago, Nigro graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in kinesiology and set things up for a career in the medical field. She worked as a CNA for four years, the last of which at Duke Hospital. With the increased pressure on nurses due to COVID, Nigro felt the added pressure and fear of burnout set in.

It was time to change.

“Working with COVID and being in healthcare for so long, I don’t know if I got burned out or really wasn’t happy, but I was waking up every day and I was really sad and just more into it,” Nigro said. “So I woke up and I was like, ‘I’m going to quit my job.'”

Mom and dad had an understandable answer: how would the bills be paid without a stable income and an immediate backup plan?

There was no easy answer for Nigro, who was still new to Durham at the time, but the love of sweets had always been with her. He just needed a massage.

“I didn’t really know what to do, but I knew that I always loved cooking, it’s what I’ve done all my life,” she said. “I never knew how to make something pretty.”

“I once made a birthday cake for my friend and thought ‘what if I try a little harder with this cake’ and then I gave it a try and it turned out so pretty that no one believed it came from me.”

You can’t spell pastry without trying. And so a new business – Little Barb’s Bakery – was born.

Running your own bakery is no less daunting than being a nurse in terms of time commitment. His days start around 5:30 a.m. and sometimes don’t end until 10:30 p.m. That’s 5 p.m. and a lot of determination.

Little Barb Bakery in Durham

“I want to do it because I know I can do it,” Nigro said. “It’s part of me to give it my all.”

The 26-year-old from Livingston, Tennessee had some business acumen helping out at her parents’ pizzeria. She is one of nine children and sociable enough to win customers and savvy on social media, where photos of delicious pastries create moving content.

“That sense of support I feel in Durham makes me feel like it’s a small town where everyone knows me and supports me,” she said.

She operated a home bakery for about 10 months and received orders from friends, family and former co-workers at the hospital. The bakery opened in the food hall on Foster Street in early July and received positive feedback online and in person. She knows it will take more than that to stay afloat and has started a GoFundMe to help pay for bakery equipment.

Nigro makes the usual assortment of cakes, cookies, brownies, cannolis, and cinnamon rolls. One of the specialties is the homemade pop pies with flavors of s’mores, blueberries, strawberries and brown sugar. The zucchini bread recipe is based on her grandmother’s methods.

You can follow the bakery’s daily specials and events on Instagram (@little_barbs_bakery).

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