SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Miranda and Erika Gilbert always had a special sister bond, but it grew even stronger through their many shared interests, like baking.

“I always had this dream in the back of my mind that I wanted to open a cupcake store and let her help me run it,” said Miranda Gilbert, owner of Sissy’s Sweets.

In 2020, Erika died from health complications with Down syndrome. She was 22. It was then that Gilbert felt the urge to fully pursue their shared dream. And now, sitting on Boiling Springs Road, is Gilbert’s new business, Sissy’s Sweets.

“I have mixed emotions because so much of me wants her here with me to do it but I’m still happy I get to do it in her honor,” said Gilbert.

And if you knew Erika, you would be able to see that the bakery is in her honor emotionally, but also physically. From purple walls to a Jonas Brothers themed bathroom, Gilbert wanted all of it to resemble her sister.

“She was always the life of the party, I know it sounds cliché to say but she lit up a room wherever she went,” said Gilbert.

Gilbert is hiring employees with disabilities, so the faces greeting customers at the shop will share a similarity with each other, and Erika.

It’s something she hopes will eliminate a stigma.

“I think we’ve made a lot of great strides in the past few years with businesses and places hiring with special needs, which is awesome, but I think we still have a little work to do,” said Gilbert.

Sissy’s Sweets is a celebration of who Erika Gilbert was, and a full circle testament to what Gilbert’s mission has been all along.

“My personal mission was just to tell as many people as possible about my sister and to provide employment for people with special needs and to provide the community with some good dessert,” said Gilbert.

Gilbert is baking out of her home right now and the shop will officially open within the next few weeks. It will sell an array of desserts, coffee and breakfast treats.