Alexandra is the founder of Sweet Hart Kitchen, a Toronto-based bakery with a wholesome philosophy on treats. These homemade goods come from a deep love of creating in the kitchen that she shares with her community–and they can't get enough.
Can you tell us a little bit about your business?
Sweet Hart Kitchen is a vegan, gluten-free, and naturally sweetened bakery located in Kensington market. It started out as a small wholesale and custom-order based business operating out of a shared commercial kitchen space in Leslieville. I saw that there was this growing demand for healthy alternative eats and treats, so with the help of a super supportive community I was able to scale the business into what it has become today.
How did you know you wanted to work for yourself?
I've been experimenting in the kitchen since I was really young and hoped with all my heart that one day I would be able to share some of my creations with others. I think I've always gone against-the-grain in the way that I operate. I loved to learn, but I couldn’t stay seated or focused in a classroom. After I graduated with a Business degree inMarketing, I knew I couldn’t ignore my passion to dream and create for much longer. Through a bit of networking and exploration, things kind of fell into place after that. The puzzle pieces just came together over time!
What is one piece of advice you'd give to somebody starting a new business?
There’s support! Be it grants, loans, meeting with other entrepreneurs within the same industry. Companies likeBizLaunch, Futurpreneur & Ignite Capital helped made my dream possible, so don't be afraid to get out there and talk to your community. It's also important to set systems in place so that you can limit surprises. There’s so much that goes into daily operations that you will always be learning and putting out fires constantly.
What do you love most about your job?
The business isn’t just a bakery for me. It has become a safe haven. It's a place to work, but also to create and find freedom. Each day is a gift and no matter how stressful it can get, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. The most rewarding part has been building a team of like minded individuals who believe in it as much as I do. I love seeing how much joy it brings to other people, and how many lovely people I get to meet along the way. This level of support truly brings up so much emotion, especially when I am in need of some light (or a hug).
What do you find most challenging?
I think because I’m still very involved in the day-to-day operations the biggest struggle has been the work-life balance. You cannot pour from an empty cup and I think the hardest part is putting as much care back into myself as I do the business. That’s part of the experience though! I know that with time and practice things will balance out. You gotta take care of yourself!
Have you experienced any unexpected turns as a business owner?
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t, but the most important part is to just focus on maintaining a solid foundation that can support you as you navigate those changes. Life is full of the unexpected and that is the same with running a business. Just keep your intuition on high & go from there. You’ll make it through.
What do you do when you're not running Sweet Hart Kitchen?
As of right now, I wish I had some more time and space for hobbies, but I will say the most important thing to me is doing anything and everything possible to reconnect with myself so that I can be a better human for my business, my loved ones and for myself. A hefty task!
Sweet Hart Kitchen is now taking Valentine's Day orders. Try some of these delicious treats today!
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