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Virginia-based Army veteran turned baker hopes for sweet start to the new year

Chef Erinn Roth has struggled to keep her small business afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, but things are looking up.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Baker Erinn Roth is hoping that the new year will bring good news for her small business.

"Baking is a labor of love... It's not even a labor of love, it's love," Roth said.

It was out of love for her mom that Roth turned that labor into a career. Right before she retired from the Army in 2015, she told her mom she wanted to start baking.

"She was like, 'Well sweetie, whatever you decide to do I know you'll be successful," Roth said. 

Weeks later, her mom passed away suddenly, and she went through a dark time. Then she realized her mom would tell her to get up and start the business.

"I named it Ms. Jo's after my mom, who was a force to be reckoned with," Roth said. Erinn has proven to take after her mom.

"The pandemic adversely affected my business and I almost quit," Roth said. "But this is my mom's name, so that means a lot more than anything, and she wouldn't quit. Ironically, we did a little bit better toward the end of the year than we did the previous year."

 Recently, she won a contract to set up a cafe at PenFed's building in Tysons Corner, Virginia. 

She said she was surprised by the news.

"Girl, I almost wrecked my car," Roth said with a laugh.

Fiserv, a financial technology company that's been handing out grants to minority business owners, gave Roth a $10,000 one.

It's a sweet, fresh start to 2022 for Roth and Ms. Jo.

For more information on Ms. Jo's Petite Sweets, click here.

RELATED: 'We don't deserve her' | Arlington woman donates 100% of side hustle baking profits to charities

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