Gibson managing Carlo’s Bakery in Orlando

  • Hannah Gibson (left) is the general manager of the Carlo’s Bakery location in Orlando, Fla. The bakery is one of 19 owned by the Valastro family, who are featured on the TLC television show “Cake Boss”. Gibson is pictured with Buddy Valastro.

Hannah Gibson isn’t the “Cake Boss”, but the Barnwell native is the boss of one of the Carlo’s Bakery locations.

Gibson, a 2005 graduate of Barnwell High School, is the general manager of the Carlo’s Bakery location in Orlando, Fla. Carlo’s Bakery originated in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1910, but has grown in recent years to 18 locations across the United States as well as one in Brazil. The Hoboken location is the setting of the TLC television show “Cake Boss”, which focuses on Buddy Valastro and his family. Gibson has been a fan of the show for years.

“It’s been really awesome. Being part of the Carlo’s family means getting to do what I love every day for a company that I am proud of,” said Gibson, the daughter of Wendy and Mary Beth Gibson of Barnwell.

After graduating from the Art Institute in Charleston in 2009, Gibson worked at a bakery in Charleston before moving to Charlotte, N.C. to manage a bakery for five years. She said a co-worker in Charlotte joked with her that it would be funny if she got a job at Carlo’s Bakery because they are the “top of the field.”

Gibson turned her co-worker’s joke into reality when she joined the Carlo’s Bakery team in December 2015 when the Orlando location opened. She was promoted to general manager about a year ago.

She said the Valastro family treats each location like it’s the only one by being “very hands on” and accessible to the employees, who they want to help grow. Buddy’s sister Grace was involved the first year after the Orlando store opened, but Buddy has since taken over. Gibson said each one has a different style, which has taught her a lot and helped her grow as a baker and manager.

“I feel like part of the family,” said Gibson of the family atmosphere the Valastro family creates in their bakeries.

She spent a few days training at the factory in New Jersey as well as the Hoboken and Times Square locations in October 2016.

In her role as manager, Gibson said she wants to help her staff grow and develop their skills, such as going from a cashier to a baker.

However, she still gets to be involved in the baking and decorating process, which she enjoys.

“Baking has always relaxed me,” said Gibson, although she didn’t seriously think about it as a career until she decided to go to culinary school.

She especially loves the decorating aspect because it allows her to be creative by bringing a customer’s vision to life. While sculpted cakes can be difficult, she loves the creativity it requires to bring a character, person or thing to life in cake form.

“The best part of my job is working really hard on a cake and seeing the joy of the customer when they love what you did. That brings me so much pride,” said Gibson, who helped create a cake for retired basketball player Shaquille O’Neal.

Gibson, who was told at her first job that she couldn’t succeed without an art degree, has shown that hard work and determination pays off. She hopes other people will follow their passions as well and not let others dissuade them from doing something.

“All of that will get you wherever you want to go,” she said of working hard and learning from her mistakes. “I definitely feel like I am a stronger manager and baker,” she said.

Carlo’s Bakery is currently open in Hoboken, Marlton, Morristown, Red Bank, Ridgewood, Wayne, and Westfield, N.J.; Las Vegas, NV; Dallas, Frisco, and The Woodlands, Texas; Uncasville, Conn.; Orlando, Fla.; Bethlehem, and Philadelphia, Pa.; New York, and Westbury, N.Y.; and, São Paulo, Brazil.