By Anuoluwapo A. Adefiwitan

At 4344 Farragut Street in Hyattsville is a dessert boutique that aims to make their clients feel like family. 

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Tiered & Petite opened its Hyattsville store in May.
Photo credit: Anuoluwapo A. Adefiwitan

At the age of 6, Nicole “Cotton” Ward began baking with her parents. She thought her mom was a superhero because she could identify all the ingredients in anything she tasted.


Her first baked good was a German chocolate cake with yellow coconut icing that she made with her father. 


Ward’s love for baking became a business, Cotton’s Gourmet Gifts and Creations, in June 2003, a year after the passing of her father. 


“I ended up just starting it,” Ward said. “I still had jobs, but in my soul I’m like, I’m not supposed to be doing this.” 


Ward recalled becoming unhappy at her jobs. But at each one, she would end up making baked goods for her colleagues. “They would be like ‘Girl, what did you bring today?’” Ward explained. ”Now they’re looking for me just to bring baked goods.” 

Tiered & Petite’s macaroons
Courtesy of Tiered & Petite

In 2010, Ward decided to fully focus on her business. She worked out of commercial kitchens, taking online orders and delivering them to clients at the Starbucks on Annapolis Road.


After the passing of her newborn in 2013, Ward renamed her business Tiered & Petite for the tiered cakes and petite desserts she artfully creates. Her website notes, “To honor the beloved memory of her parents, James Henry Ward and Barbara C. Ward, and her beloved infant son, Byron Alexander Brown, Cotton established this wonderful from scratch, small-batch baking dessert boutique.” 

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Tiered & Petite owner, Nicole “Cotton” Ward, prides herself in using premium ingredients and making her baked goods from scratch
Courtesy of Tiered & Petite

Ward prides herself in using premium ingredients and making her baked goods from scratch. As the store’s website proclaims, “We use only fine, high quality couverture chocolates (not candy melts), cocoa powders imported from France, Italy and Venezuela (not the local grocer’s), Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans and European style French butter.”


“I am not a special person, my ingredients are special,” noted Ward. “You’re not gonna find my stuff [ingredients] on the shelf.”


Both her rum bun and red velvet cupcake were absolutely delicious. The rum bun was moist and perfectly balanced between sweetness and rum. And the bun also had a creme that made it seem especially moist. 

Rum Bun
Mouthwatering rum bun
Courtesy of Tiered & Petite

Ward’s red velvet cupcake was also nothing short of gourmet. She noted that her ingredients are so organic that she doesn’t even need to use red dye to change the color of the cake — beets are enough. 


Ward said she appreciates having complete control of the baking process because it allows her to showcase the quality of her food. Her control of her ingredients can’t help but pay off. 


Since she was young, Ward has also had a gift for drawing. She brings her baking and art skills together, sketching images of many of her themed cakes before she starts making them. Ward collaborates with cake clients, relying on them for inspiration to create their dream cake. 


Ward has always operated in Maryland, and she moved into her Hyattsville space this past April. The shop has been open since May 29. 


Despite the ongoing pandemic, Tiered & Petite has seen a lot of success, Ward says, because most of her business is through delivery. Walk-ins are welcome Tuesday through Saturday. Visit for products and more information, or call the shop at 240.467.3977. 


Anuoluwapo A. Adefiwitan is a summer intern with the Hyattsville Life & Times.