How does a small New York City baking business make it from a home kitchen to its own brick-and-mortar shop? If you ask Takia Brown, owner of Oh Sweet Mason, she’ll tell you it takes determination, hard work, and community support.
Oh Sweet Mason was founded in 2015 by Julie Benjamin, a lifelong lover of baking and the culinary arts. Julie envisioned opening a unique bakery that would package delectable baked goods into portable mason jars. After her passing in 2017, Julie’s sister-in-law Takia and her best friend Nikki picked up the business, and have continued to grow their operations to commemorate Julie’s legacy. Over the years, Takia has taken Oh Sweet Mason from a home operation into a commercial kitchen, and in 2023 officially moved into a brick-and-mortar storefront in the heart of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.
“Oh Sweet Mason means the world to me and my family. This business was created by my sister who passed away, and it is amazing to see that I am able to continue her vision.”Takia Brown, Hot Bread Kitchen member and owner of Oh Sweet Mason
In the fall of 2022, Takia joined Hot Bread Kitchen’s PROOF Pitch Program, an 8-week boot camp that provided entrepreneurs with the space and support to develop their brand’s story, business plan, and financials. During PROOF, Oh Sweet Mason was operating in a commercial kitchen, which allowed Takia to expand her business into more retail stores. Although the commercial kitchen provided more room for growth than working in a kitchen at home, it still presented its own issues as a shared space with time restrictions.
“Being in the commercial kitchen allowed us to work on our organization and time management, which was definitely a plus,” Takia said, “but being at our own location allows us more time to take on a last minute order, more time for creativity and practice, and more time to fix any of our mistakes knowing we can come and go as we please.”
While in the process of developing a stronger business plan with each passing day, Takia was presented with the opportunity to join a fellow small food business, BOWL, in opening up a brick-and-mortar shop in Brooklyn. As any food entrepreneur will tell you, opening up a storefront business is no easy task–especially when external challenges come into play.
“Renovations and licensing were absolutely our biggest hurdles,” Takia said. “Of course we wanted everything to be completely correct and we did not realize how much of an impact COVID-19 was still having on the world and the ability to retrieve supplies. This caused us to have to push back our grand opening, however it all came together in the end.”
On January 3, 2023, Oh Sweet Mason’s first location at 466 Grand Ave officially opened. Takia says community support has played a big role in her business’s success. By partnering with organizations like Hot Bread Kitchen and FAB Fulton, a small business association in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene, Oh Sweet Mason has been able to expand its customer base and reach a wider audience, as well as connect with other entrepreneurs for support. Takia also commented how, to this day, people still come to Oh Sweet Mason through their connection to its original founder, her sister Julie.
“My favorite part of being a small business owner is seeing the direct impact of my hard work and dedication,” Takia said. “It is amazing to see that I am able to continue [my sister’s] vision.”