What happens when you infuse heavenly macaroons with Caribbean tradition & flavors? Real magic, that’s what happens. Meet Sweet Dames’ Guava CocoMallow Macaroon Sandwich.
That magic fusion is the premise and art behind Sweet Dames, a local patissier that has us staring at our screens a bit too intently. Owner and chief baker Genelle Drayton has been running her business since 2013, but she got a start at a very early age. Talk about true talent – she booked her first catering job (a holiday party for 40 people) when she was just 11 years old. Fast forward to 2017, and now Sweet Dames produces a growing range of delectable products from their base at Foodworks Brooklyn, an incubator space for food startups.
While Genelle is a native New Yorker, her artisan confections showcase her Caribbean roots. Ginger, guava and even a spritz of rum here and there work their way into her creations. Other macaroon flavors, like their Rocky J peanut & pretzel combo, bring a modern twist to traditional American favorites.
Catch up with Genelle about her start with Sweet Dames, exciting partnerships on the horizon, and how sweet it is to live at grandma’s.
A little trivia about yourself
– Born & raised: Native New Yorker born in Queens, raised in Staten Island and Queens
– Cups of coffee a day: Mint or ginger tea is my drink of choice… wish there was a Starbucks for tea drinkers!
– Currently reading: “If Beale Street Could Talk”, by James Baldwin
– The best brunch: Unlimited mimosas – and my good girlfriends, that’s the determining factor.
– Hidden talent: I am the ultimate “Craft Mommy”. I can go to a Michael’s store and spend a significant amount of time and money. Yeah, pretty bad.
– If I didn’t do what I do, I would be a… Aaaah, the ultimate dream. I would own a bed & breakfast, but it would have to be near a beach.
What inspired you to start your business?
My family is the inspiration for my business. Sweet Dames Artisan Confections comes from my mother’s maiden name, it’s my tribute to my grandparents Henry & Daisy Dames. We were the family that always entertained. There was always a party in our home and I believe Sweet Dames is an extension of that. Our products are the special treat for any occasion. For me they are a demonstration of love, family and tradition.
What makes your products different?
My family is from the Bahamas and our products are influenced by our culture. While we do offer traditional coconut macaroons and marshmallow varieties, we incorporate fruit and spices like ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, guava and pineapple.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
The million dollar question. A group of business mentors is wonderful and necessary, but you must trust yourself, know yourself enough to realize that your inner spirit will NEVER take you down the wrong path. Our intuition serves a great purpose. Entrepreneurship is not for the weak, you will have peaks and valleys, THAT’S OK, learn from them and keep going!
Any exciting plans for the next few months?
Yes! It is gift giving time as the holidays approach, so we will be very busy with our custom corporate gift orders. I’ve partnered with Bed, Bath & Beyond in Brooklyn and will have a cooking demonstration there in November. We’re also working on new marshmallow flavors that we plan on introducing in the beginning of 2018.
What do you love about your neighborhood?
I live in Queens in the home that my grandparents purchased over 50 years ago. They’re no longer with us, but I appreciate them so much and it makes me so proud to live in the home they worked hard for. I think Queens is one of the most culturally diverse boroughs and I’m influenced and inspired by my community.