Entrepreneur Robin Holmes, Owner Deddles Mini Donuts (Courtesy Photo)

By Nadine Matthews
Special to the AFRO

The pain over her mother’s death is still evident in Robin Holmes’ voice as she speaks to Baltimore Afro about landing a $10,000 Opportunity Grant from Merchant Maverick, the business product comparison site for small business owners.  It isn’t solely because her mother died that distresses the native Baltimorean entrepreneur, but the indifference with which her mother’s employer greeted it. Stated Holmes, “Everything was about work for my mom. She didn’t get to attend a lot of my school functions because work came first and foremost. She really put it before everything. When she passed away though, they didn’t even send a card. That really hurt me”

Holmes’ mother worked as a cook at a nursing home (like her mother before her) for thirty-five years and was so dedicated she would walk the five miles to work when her car wasn’t working. “She wanted to make sure the elderly patients would get food to eat no matter what,” explained Holmes, herself the mom of two adult children.

That painful event pushed Holmes, who is also a member of the Maryland Food Truck Association and mentor at the University of Baltimore Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship,  to finally make a decision she had been contemplating for some time. “I said, ‘I am done with corporate America. I’m gonna start my own business in honor of my mom and her work ethic and get back to when jobs cared about their employees.”

A natural entrepreneur, Holmes’ first business was designing clothes and selling shoes. “I would buy the shoes wholesale and then resell them and I made the clothes myself and sold them.” This time, she turned to God for guidance. “I asked “what kind of business would you have me open? What would you have me do with this business? That you would bless it? He led me to donuts.” She named the business Deddle’s Mini Donuts, after the nickname for her mother. She decided it would be a food truck.

Holmes also did her research. “I went online and started Googling. When I did discover donuts, I went to the company in Minneapolis that made the machines, and sat down with them and got a feel for the company.”

Holmes was a little ahead of the pack a few years ago, in realizing the value of the food truck business, a mode of food distribution now exploding. She immediately after making her decision to open a business, bought a used camper. “I didn’t even know at the time what I was going to sell from it,” Holmes said.

Holmes’ business, Deddles Mini Donuts, is a big pink food truck, which serves made-to-order mini donuts with a variety of fun toppings. In the beginning, she had to be resourceful. “I was putting around town in this retro 1985 camper. I also had to hot wire it every time we started it. Sometimes, you have to adjust and still make things happen!”

Deddles is now stationed in the Lexington Market in Baltimore, a move Holmes was forced to make due to unforeseen circumstances, and a move for which she needed extra resources. “I was keeping my eyes and ears out for everything  because we were trying to keep things going in the pandemic and prepare for the expansion into Lexington Market. We’ll need totally different equipment going into Lexington Market than we currently have as a mobile business.” The grant from Mavericks will be used for that as well as for in increasing the ability to accept orders online. “We need to step that up,” Holmes states.

Holmes heard about the grant from another program in which she was involved. “I’m a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses alumni and they told me about the Merchant Mavericks Grant. They make us aware of resources that might be available.”

This is the inaugural year of the Opportunity Grants Program from Merchant Mavericks, which was open to Black woman business owners in the United States. CEO Amad Ebrahimi saw it as a way to give back to the business community affected by the economic factors of COVID-19.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, Holmes urges them to “find a mentor and network like crazy.”

Holmes says her mantra about moving forward in life is very simple “Just believe. I believe I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I also try to love everybody, be willing to give, and be grateful.” 

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