Post Content

listentoyourdream2Business owner Carolyn Graves, owner of Cakes & Islands, talks about overcoming her physical challenge to realize her sweet dream.


I was born deaf. But with the use of hearing aids, I had some hearing.  Without them I couldn’t hear anything at all. My parents wanted me to learn how to speak. I spent many years working with a speech therapist. The hard work has paid off, at least I think so! I have learned how to read lips as well as speak correctly.

I played sports in all my years in school. That has helped me be comfortable in a social environment with my peers. It has built my self-esteem.  I felt like I belonged with other kids in sports.

Technology has had a huge impact on my life. The era of email allowed me to be more independent.  Before I had to rely on my family and friends to help me with phone calls.  Email helped me confer with clients discussing details of what they wanted whether it was ordering a cake, sea glass candy, dessert tables, or setting up appointments to meet, etc.

I went to culinary school with the intent of being a chef one day. I worked in restaurants for a few years as a line cook. I had to pay extra attention to my surroundings with orders being called in a fast environment in a loud kitchen.  I met my husband, Steve, 18 years ago in a Nantucket restaurant where we worked in the kitchen. He had admitted to me that when he first heard that a deaf girl was going to be working with him for the summer, he wasn’t looking forward to that. He thought it was going to be difficult because of my disability. But I impressed him with my strong work ethic, determination, and willingness to get my hands dirty. My last job was being a pastry chef for four years.

I knew for a long time since I was in high school that I wanted to own a business.  I didn’t know back then exactly what I wanted to do. I grew up in a family that thrived on hard work to reach success.  I wanted to be able to do what my 4 other siblings did. Each one became very successful in what they do. I didn’t want to be left behind. That fueled my determination to make something of myself, even though I didn’t know exactly what that was going to be.

My career was on pause when I became a stay at home mom to two kids for eight years.  Sometime in the 5th year, someone asked if I could make a birthday cake for her child.  Since that first cake, I realized that I really enjoyed doing it. So I made cakes a few times by word of mouth which grew in the last few years while still being a stay at home mom.

My husband believed very strongly in me that I could succeed with building a career in cake decorating. I started making sea glass candy as well. My friend started selling it in her shop. When that did well, it became a full time job as well as doing cakes. At that time, my husband started playing around with macaroons one day. It was then we both decided to make a career of that together.

It had been a very frustrating two years searching for the right place for Cake & Islands. There were times when I wanted to give up because I was so frustrated. But Steve pushed me to keep going.  He found this place in Dennis Port that had great potential. It had been vacant for years and was in poor condition. We fixed up the place for a couple months and opened for business at the end of January.  The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive.

Never once did I feel that my deafness held me back to get where I am today. Yes, there are times when I wished I could hear 100%.  Sometimes it catches me when I realize how lucky I am, with a loving husband and a family who believed in me. For me, being deaf was not an obstacle that I couldn’t overcome. If anything, it made me stronger and more determined to succeed.

– Carolyn Graves


For more information about services for the deaf and hearing impaired, visit our website and meet Carolyn on Channel 5’s CHRONICLE, Wednesday, May 20, at 7:30pm.

Written By:


Owner, Cakes & Islands

Tags: , , , , ,

Recent Posts

The Commission on Bullying Meets to Discuss Ways to Prevent Bullying in Public and Subsidized Housing posted on Jul 13

The Commission on Bullying Meets to Discuss Ways to Prevent Bullying in Public and Subsidized Housing

The concept of bullying has increasingly become a widespread issue affecting many individuals in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, especially elders and those with disabilities. In order to resolve bullying in public and/or subsidized housing, all members who are affiliated with the housing community must be   …Continue Reading The Commission on Bullying Meets to Discuss Ways to Prevent Bullying in Public and Subsidized Housing

In innovative partnership, City and State team up to house chronically homeless older adults and pair them with services & supports posted on Jun 23

The City of Boston’s Boston’s Way Home, in partnership with MA Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) and MassHealth, hosted a “housing surge” on June 15, designed to connect chronically homeless older adults with housing while qualifying them for services and support.  This unique partnership   …Continue Reading In innovative partnership, City and State team up to house chronically homeless older adults and pair them with services & supports

Massachusetts Commission LBGTQ Youth Swearing In posted on Jun 20

Massachusetts Commission LBGTQ Youth Swearing In

Secretary Marylou Sudders, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, members from the Legislature, and members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning Youth (LGBQT) Commission came together in the beautiful State House Library to recognize and celebrate the LGBQT Massachusetts Commission. Established 25 years ago,   …Continue Reading Massachusetts Commission LBGTQ Youth Swearing In