Sweet Potato Cake (Photo/Twitter)
With unique desserts like the red velvet sweet potato cake, the sweet potato brownie and the simple, yet famous sweet potato cupcake, it’s no wonder that in one year, April N. Richardson, winner of Maryland’s 2016 Top 100 Women Award, was able to transform a failing company into a regional sensation.
By the end of 2014, Richardson became president of Maryland’s 20-year-old Delectable Cakery. She rebranded the company “The DC Sweet Potato Cake” and placed the company’s products inside major food chains, including 13 Wegmans, Honey Baked Ham Stores and local restaurants.
“Wegmans was our big break because we aligned ourselves with a brand. You can get 1,000 vanilla cupcakes from just about any place, but can you get vanilla cupcakes or other baked goods that have sweet potatoes? No,” Richardson told the AFRO.
Delectable Cakery set up business in the early ‘90s, out of Derek Lowery’s car. However, in 2013, after moving the business to several commercial establishments in Hyattsville, Md., he was unable to stay afloat and faced possible closure.
“I felt it my responsibility to give back to the community, making sure that people could keep their jobs, giving free consultations to businesses on how to stay afloat. After stopping into Derek’s shop and eating his delicious cake, I started asking him questions about his company that he could not answer and a red flag went up, so I told him to contact me should he ever need any help,” Richardson said.
“An acquaintance I knew told me what happened and I asked that he reach out to Derek,” Richardson said. “I got together with him and we met with Joanne Dimeglio, the owner of the building, and I that she give me a chance to turn the business around. Her only requirement to Derek was that I come along with the company.”
In 2014, business for the company started to look up.
“I contacted one of the high level executives of Starbucks and told them about our delicious cakes. I was told to mail one to them, but I spontaneously decided to fly to Seattle, Wash., to hand-deliver it myself,” she said. The sweet potato cakes were launched in two D.C. Starbucks stores two weeks later.
After gaining access to 11 Starbucks stores in the metropolitan area, the bakery began selling sweet potato cakes on QVC in 2015, where it sold more than 1,400 cakes in eight minutes. The segment also aired on March 2.
“Our big goal one day is to end up on Oprah’s Favorite Things list. It’s simple: We bake, we love, we inspire,” Richardson said.