Stephanie Johnson of Sweet Blessings knows God and her talent as a chef and dessert maker has her back in these challenging times as a business owner. She made a huge sacrifice and gamble to leave the routine workplace to do what she is passionate about and loves as the owner of Sweet Blessings.
By LaMar Anderson | November 26, 2020 | 6:00am
Please tell us your name and business.
My name is Stephanie Johnson, and my business is Sweet Blessings.
What was your inspiration for starting your business?
I started this business in the era of Covid 2020; I am a chef. I studied at Le Cordon Bleu, so I know how to do all cuisines. I love doing sweets, and a lot of chefs don’t. When this pandemic happened, I needed to do something to market myself other than the food. I can always cook for you, but sweets, when a chef does sweets and do them well, it is hard to come by. That was the reasoning for starting my business and getting laid off.
I still do meal prep on the weekend for clients. The desserts are my baby, and that’s why I am doing it now. I have all the different flavors and started with the jar desserts.
Are you filling a void in the market as a chef? Has creating and offering desserts been the most successful strategy as a business owner during these challenging times?
It has been for me, I wouldn’t say for everyone else, but because God has blessed me with the hands and a talent to do both. I said, let me go with what I love and what my passion is. I love to cook too, it is relaxing but making desserts is what I love because I love sweets. I enjoy making them and using family recipes. The pound cake that I have here took me years to perfect. Mine is buttermilk and not a regular pound cake. I can go into the difference but perfecting desserts is just awesome and I love creating. Yeah, you can go into a cookbook or baking book but to put your twist on classic desserts is awesome. I took the niches of doing desserts versus promoting meal prep or my catering business.
I do have a catering business; I don’t talk about it because those are two different businesses. I am here to promote this because I want Sweet Blessings to be in everybody’s home.
Why did you become a chef? What led you to culinary arts during your journey?
Now the story of why I became a chef is nineteen years ago, I was blessed with a baby girl, and I wanted to be healthy for her when I was pregnant. I started cooking for myself, working out every day [after her birth]. I liked it and thought it was relaxing. I don’t know why I didn’t cook before. I was eating fast food and was still skinny and thinking I could eat whatever I wanted. I decided to do it part-time while working a full-time job as a retail manager. When I had my daughter, I continued healthy eating. I got tired of customers and management, and all that, so I went part-time. I enrolled in culinary school, took a huge pay cut, and gambled to start a new career in my early 40’s. God has me, you know, it is what it is. I knew I was going to get paid about $10 an hour less than what I was making then and an older woman trying to get into the industry, but it never discouraged me. Has it been a slow start? Yes, but I don’t care. I am doing something that I love to do. I am passionate about it, and it is not about money.
Do you have a network you can rely on to help support you emotionally or financially?
Yes and no. Some family members will support, and friends have helped me.
How have you overcome challenges this year?
A closed mouth doesn’t get fed. A lot of people know what I do. When I said I was going to do my desserts, I hit my social media, and church family. I even told my family, you know my circle-this is what I am doing. The challenges I face during Covid are not being busy every single day. Am I going to be making desserts every day, no? I am a real chef, so if I need to go to a big commercial kitchen to bust out one hundred desserts, I can do that, but on a smaller scale, if you called me to say you want a cake, I got you. With or without help, God and my talent got me regardless if I make money or not.
Was entrepreneurship a part of your family growing up, or are you the first generation?
I am originally from Memphis. My mom moved me out here [Los Angeles, California] when I was young. Every year I would go back to visit my grandparents, and I know that they had a room in the back of their house where they cut hair and turned it into a barbershop. My mom worked for AT&T for 30 years and retired. I am a second-generation entrepreneur, and my mom was not.
What does Leimert Park mean to you?
It’s history here. Even though I grew up in LA county, I always heard about Leimert Park, but my mom worked two jobs. We never came here to immerse ourselves in this culture and know the history of Leimert Park and the Black-owned businesses and what they have done over the years for the community or our people. There is so much culture here.
How long have you been coming to Leimert Park?
I am a street vendor; it’s a blessing, and I have only been doing this a month. I have been selling desserts before I came here because I have a clientele that buys the desserts that I sell throughout the week, but I come here to share my love of what I am doing. I am excited to be the second generation owning my business. One day you will see Sweet Blessings has its brick and mortar.
What can we expect from you in the next month and the new year?
I am promoting Sweet Blessings going into the holidays; if you want pies, cakes, and jar desserts, I got you. Going into 2021, I’ll find some investors and have my truck or storefront. I pray and hope.
How can we connect and support Stephanie Johnson of Sweet Blessings?
You can call me direct at 562-537-1200 or 562-537-9449
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