How Sweet It Is

From a Filipino brothel to the Food Network, one woman perseveres to savor pastry success

By Shilo Urban
Photo by Amber Shumake

Alexis Ruddock turns flour and sugar into works of art, crafting flawless cupcakes and cookies with adorable decorations. Dainty pink flowers and teeny-tiny succulents bloom on her desserts. Swirls of frosting find new lives as snowy cabins and pretty springtime forests. It’s a world of happy unicorns and rainbows, of candy sprinkles and cake pops that are (almost) too cute to eat. 

But her path to success has not all been strewn with fondant blossoms and roses. Raised in a brothel in the Philippines, she has survived abandonment and abuse on a roller-coaster journey that has swung from driving a Porsche to living in her car. She has picked herself up again and again to overcome challenges and create a better life for her family.

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