Danaris Mazara began baking cakes out of financial necessity. With her husband laid-off, Danaris spent the $35 budgeted for groceries on baking ingredients. She then sold homemade cakes to family members, friends and her coworkers at a big-box retailer. Danaris grossed $500, and thus started Sweet Grace Heavenly Cakes – named for her oldest daughter and inspiration.
With four employees working in her home kitchen, Danaris dreamt of a storefront bakery and growing the sales of her custom cakes for weddings, showers, and birthdays. However, she lacked experience in business operations, health code compliance, and commercial real estate.
Danaris enrolled in a 12-week accelerator program at Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll), a Lowell-based non-profit. Along with mentoring and business classes, EforAll provided technical assistance on food-establishment laws and regulations. Danaris credits EforAll with crafting her loan application to purchase a store and opening doors at banks.
Sweet Grace Heavenly Cakes opened on Essex Street in Lawrence in late 2015, orders doubled and staff grew to seven. Danaris now owns both the business and the building, with a tenant renting half the space.