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Tue, Jul 29, 2014

Arts, Business, Careers, Community, Culture, Politics

Sweet Retreat Compelling Story and Journey to the White house

BY lyanne

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The Sweet Retreat is not a bakery its a Cake Boutique, located on Newark’s Academy Street, the smell of delicious treats fills the air.

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This Labor Day will mark their third anniversary of Newark’s first and best cupcake spot, Sweet Retreat Boutique. Located in Newark’s burgeoning Downtown Business district, Sweet Retreat caters to a loyal following that includes Newark City Hall, the Essex County Courts, NJ Performing Arts Center, Prudential Headquarters (Newark) and the Prudential Center among cordial and supportive neighbors just to name a few.  Sweet Retreats is part dessert assembled and artistry.  Their humble beginning speaks volume to the character and commitments of it founding members.  Last month, the team of Sweet Retreats were members of a delegation from Newark that participated in the White House Summit on Working Families, the reason for their selection will be covered shortly.

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The ideas for Sweet Retreat emerged from  co-owners and friends Larry Kenny, Jason Grey, and Hendrick Yamusah.  From tragedy comes a little sweetest, while Larry was completing his MBA degree, and attending his first year of a doctoral program, his daughter became ill.  ”I was driven to leave the corporate treadmill. My eight-year old daughter Elexis was stricken by neuroblastoma a rare cancer affecting children. I lived through the heartache of comforting my baby girl through major surgeries which, in the end, proved fruitless. When Elexis succumbed after two years of battling the disease, I could no longer ignore the fragility of life. I found refuge in the one activity that kept that sparkle in her eyes – our making cupcakes together. With her passing, I moved fully into entrepreneurship, paying tribute to her memory and our legacy by sharing our joy with others. I released any lingering reservations and doubts, determined to make this bakery dream a reality.”

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“Last month,  Sweet Retreats was asked to participate in the President’s first White House Summit on Working Families, where they highlighted their support of the Paid Sick leave ordinance that had recently passed in Newark NJ”, said Larry.  The White House Council on Women and Girls, the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Center for American Progress (CAP) hosted the Summit on Working Families to focus on creating a 21st century workplace that works for all Americans. The goal of the Summit was to support a Workplaces that make full use of the talented pool of American workers, to build a thriving and healthy economy, to enable businesses to stay competitive in today’s global economy, and to help all workers ensure the economic stability of their families. Too many working Americans – both women and men – are living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make ends meet and respond to the competing demands of work and family. At the Summit, they convened businesses, economists, labor leaders, policymakers, advocates, and ordinary citizens to discuss policy solutions that can make a real difference in the lives of working families and ensure America’s global competitiveness in the coming decades.  With Larry’s personal understanding on the importance to have family leave time, and being supportive of the passage of a Paid Sick leave ordinance in Newark, and through the recommendation of NJ Main Street Alliance, this was a personal accomplish for Larry and the Sweet Retreat team.  The new law creates a modest floor for earned paid sick time as a basic work standard, like the minimum wage. In the current version of the bill, workers would be able to earn three to five days of paid sick time, depending on the size of the firm. Workers in businesses with 10 or more employees, and all businesses in the food service or child care industries, would be able to earn up to five days of paid sick time. At smaller “Mom and Pop”businesses with less than 10 employees, workers would be able to earn up to three days of paid sick time.

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We believe the story of entrepreneurs entrenched in the revitalization of our urban centers offers insights that other urban entrepreneurs can appreciate, saids Larry. Our social media approach, marketing advisement and product specialization, all encourage customers using translatable tactics. People continue to discover us, and return to patronize us time and again. Our neighbors at Prudential have even been gracious enough to sponsor our second anniversary celebration. Forward Ever Sustainable Business Alliance, the country’s first urban Balle affiliate, has been our entrepreneurial angel, introducing us to Newark and supporting us as we struggled through the uncertainties of a neophyte business. And now, nearly three years later, the buzz surrounding Sweet Retreat Boutique is still enough to keep sweet-teeth tingling.  

Presently, Sweet-Retreats is in the process of securing their first Kiva Loan, with the support and endorsement by Forward Ever Sustainable Business Alliance, and will be hosting a event with Sweet Retreat, called the  ReMIXX on July 30, 2014 from 6- 8pm at the Sweet Retreat Boutique. Located at 17 Academy Street in downtown NewarkYou can participate by leading as little as $10, this amounts goes throughs the establishment of the loan, with the returned of the loan funds being repaid in two years.  Kiva is the world’s first and largest crowdfunding platform for social good with 950,000 people crowdfunding 1 million entrepreneurs in 65 countries. “Kiva City Newark gives everyone a chance to help support local jobs and businesses,When you help to crowdfund a loan to a small business, you are creating jobs in local communities, which in turn supports another local business, and another. As small businesses grow and expand, local economies improve, helping to support schools, city services and more vibrant and sustainable communities.” Newark joins similar Kiva initiatives in Los Angeles, Detroit, New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and hundreds of other cities across the nation and around the world.

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.  People are still talking about those ‘cupcakes guys’ on Academy Street in Newark and we’d like to keep that conversation going.  We hope that we can provide insights as solid as our Red Velvet, as decadent as our Banana Cream, and as pleasantly surprising as our Jamaican Pineapple cupcakes, and their other 33 cupcake flavors. The world really can be a sweet retreat when you share the best of yourself with the world around you.

 

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There are plans to expand their offerings into cookies and other pastries, Kenny said. A cafe in the back is planned. And Kenny said they want kids to come in and design their own cupcakes during special events.  One thing’s for sure: Kenny’s daughter would have been pleased with the shop.

“She loved cupcakes,” he said

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