Maple bacon, buttercream and Oreos, orange glaze topped with cinnamon toast crunch… the flavor combinations are endless when patrons design their made-to-order donuts in Cartersville’s psychedelic bakery, Hippie Donuts. Inspired by family, a single mother of six happened upon a craft donut shop while on vacation in Indiana.
She reveled in the experience that brought joy to the whole family and didn’t break the bank. With her children’s smiles still blazing in her memory, Nicole Butler returned home with a burning desire to follow a dream, connect a community, and build new traditions.
Butler is not a Cartersville native, but this small town is where she calls home. “I grew up as a preacher’s kid, and my ex-husband served in the air force — you could say I moved around most of my childhood and adult life,” Butler says. Having become accustomed to moving around, she has always been ready for transition, prepared for what was next. In Cartersville, she found herself immersed in the life of a devoted community.
Working as secretary at Life Point Church, office manager at Tindall Media, barista at Southern Muggs, and even running for the office of Mayor of Cartersville, Butler opened many doors of opportunity and made many connections —connections that would change her life forever.
Old Friends, New Partnership
Butler’s long-time friends Jennifer and Mark Smith, owners of Olive Tree and Vine and Southern Muggs, heard about her thoughts of bringing a craft donut shop to town. They knew they wanted to help make her dream a reality, so they became partners. “All I had was an idea and a donut machine. They backed the restaurant, helped me find the perfect location, and mentored me through the ins and outs of business ownership.
I could not have done any of this without them,” Butler recalls, adding, “It’s a little scary staring a new business, but I have never been disappointed by what was around the corner. I have lived my life with prayer, and whatever door opens I think you should walk through it. It might turn to failure, but always for a reason.”
Then Covid-19 happened.
A couple of months into their opening, a pandemic swept across the country. Government officials were scrambling to protect communities, and business owners scrambled to protect their employees. “We closely watched the ordinances. Cartersville offered recommendations for restaurants, but the city never required us to close our doors.
We thought hard about what this could mean for business, and though we decided to stay open, we knew that this could mean that people might not come in,” Butler says. Once again taking a step of faith, they kept their doors open and have been serving smiles ever since. Every day brings in more new customers, with more than half their daily sales coming from new business. “We serve smiles. Just what everyone needs these days,” Jennifer Smith says.
Smiles are exactly what is served in the unique donut shop. Before stepping two feet through the door, you are struck with the curiosity of the unique décor: flower power to the extreme. Brightly painted ceiling tiles and a Baja hoodie–draped mannequin are gifts from local artists. Hot pink, bold orange and blue colors swirl in psychedelic patterns throughout the shop, magnified expertly by the bright colors of donut glazes and toppings lining the service line.
Jennifer explains, “Everyone has a little hippie in them. We all look a little weird on the outside — a little different. We have our own ways and our own style, but it is what’s on the inside that matters. Just like these donuts, they look funky and different, but the inside is purely delicious.” True to its inspiration, Hippie Donuts is a place for everyone. “Our older customers come in and experience something new and different.
The younger guests have step stools to see all the possibilities for their yummy creations. Young and old alike, this a place to share time with family. Hippie Donuts is a place to be yourself and do your thing. We see students come in for birthdays and know they will be back for a birthday donut next year, and the feeling of home swells in my chest, knowing we are creating new traditions in Cartersville. Moving around as much as I did, I don’t have many traditions from my youth, it’s quite extraordinary to be a part of making new ones,” Butler says, her throat tight with emotion.
Individuals flock to Hippie Donuts to support this young business; local artists donate art and sponsor ceiling tiles and large businesses order regularly and check in with this little shop to make sure business is strong and they have the support they need to be successful.
Jennifer explains, “Cartersville is a tight-knit community. Here you see large businesses come through to support smaller businesses. This such a wonderful and unique quality of Cartersville.” The community support is cyclical: Hippie Donuts hires students from local schools; coincidentally, employees of Cartersville City and Bartow County schools are some of their most dedicated repeat customers. “We pull together in this small town. People have adopted this donut shop and say to themselves, ‘this is ours now,’” Butler beams.
Try something new and tasty and embrace family fun with sprinkles and toppings galore. Hippie Donuts serves smiles to the community seven days a week.