By Jared D. Childress | OBSERVER Staff Writer
August is National Black Business Month and, as quiet as it’s kept, there is a lot to celebrate.
Nationally, Black business ownership is up more than 30% from pre-pandemic levels, with Black women among the fastest growing groups.
To support Black businesses, Sacramentans need not look further than their own backyards. NAACP Greater Sacramento President Betty Williams said business is booming locally.
“Black women’s businesses are some of the fastest growing businesses here in Sacramento,” Williams told The OBSERVER.
Not only are Black women leaving their mark in Sacramento business, they are bringing their families along for the ride. Here are two local Black woman-owned businesses that are on the come-up.
Sugar Coated Cupcakes
LaQueanya Henry created a strategy for a local retailer that saved the company $11 million. While that strategy remains in place, LaQueanya Henry was let go as an executive from the corporation in 2020.
Is she a millionaire? “That’s what you would think,” LaQueanya Henry laughed. “I’m not creating any more million-dollar strategies for anyone else except myself.”
The UC Berkeley graduate didn’t rest on her laurels. She channeled her expertise into her small business, Sugar Coated Cupcakes, which she owns and operates with her daughter, Mechiala Henry. While originally soft-launched in 2019, the mobile dessert bar has become a go-to choice for special occasions and a preferred vendor at top-tier wineries.
“The first thing people think is we work for someone else,” said LaQueanya Henry, 48, of being at upscale events. “The fact that our business has made it into these spaces shocks a lot of people.”
LaQueanya and Mechiala Henry are a mother-daughter dynamic duo, with Mechiala Henry being the baking counterpart to LaQueanya Henry’s business mind.
“Of course we do the classics, but we also have our custom cupcakes,” Mechiala Henry said, naming their chicken and waffles cupcakes and the alcohol-infused “boozy cupcakes,” as favorites. “You really can’t get anything like this unless you’re in Sacramento.”
Mechiala Henry said diligence is the key to success in the baking business.
“It’s always good to have inspiration and try to be as creative as you can,” said Mechiala Henry, 28, who draws inspiration from her 4-year-old daughter. “There will be days when you feel like a custom order is too hard, but that is the challenge of it.”
LaQueanya and Mechiala Henry are up for the challenge – even if they bump heads sometimes.
“We consistently encourage each other even though we fire each other every single day,” LaQueanya Henry joked. “No one else is a Black woman-owned mobile dessert bar. No one else is doing this together as mother and daughter. This is special.”
For more information on Sugar Coated Cupcakes, visit sugarcoatedcupcakes.com.
Southern Hospitality Eats (SHE)
After the passing of her husband four years ago, Jeneen Rainey-Tatum had to step away from her baking business, Southern Hospitality Eats (SHE), which she founded in 2007.
“One of my favorite customers was my husband,” said Rainey-Tatum, 45. “Not having him there made it hard for me to walk back into that space.”
With the encouragement of her three youngest children, Rainey-Tatum returned to her first love: baking.
“Before even the baking, they were just making sure that I was emotionally OK,” Rainey-Tatum said. Her children soon would join her in the kitchen, setting the SHE family business back in motion. “Doing things as a family brings us closer and I truly believe that this will keep them united as they grow older.”
Rainey-Tatum chose the “SHE” acronym after learning from the Alchemist Kitchen, a business training program serving food entrepreneurs from low-income populations in Sacramento, that short names are best for businesses.
But SHE isn’t just a marketing tactic, it is an homage to the Proverbs 31 scripture, which reads in part: “she watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed.”
Rainey-Tatum’s church, Center of Praise Ministries in Downtown Sacramento, has become the business’ biggest supporter. SHE’s weekly pop-up delights church-goers between Sunday services with yam brownies, chocolate oatmeal walnut cookies, sea salt caramel pecan pies, zucchini bread and more.
“I’m a baker myself, so I know good baking when I taste it,” church member Simone Denny, 50, said after purchasing a bag of goodies. Denny praised Rainey-Tatum’s parenting: “She’s teaching [her children] what it means to run a business. They’re not just helping, they’re doing transactions.”
In addition to instilling entrepreneurship in her children, Rainey-Tatum aims to leave her children with knowledge of health and nutrition.
“My mission is to make sure I leave [my kids] with healthy bodies,” said Rainey-Tatum, who learned about nutrition during college at UC Davis. “Before they can ask for something, they have to look at the label and tell me what is in it. I want their eyes to connect to their brain before their stomach.”
Trésor, Rainey-Tatum’s 14-year-old daughter, said the business improved her communication skills.
“It’s just really motivating to me how determined she is and that she doesn’t get sidetracked,” said Trésor, who is a competitive acrobatic gymnast. “It’s an inspiration to me to know that I can do things like this.”
For more information on SHE, email firstname.lastname@example.org.