SCHENECTADY – Tracy Sweet of Rotterdam supplements her disability benefits – and staves off boredom – through her bakery, which she started 12 months ago, during the heart of the pandemic.
Sweet launched the startup, called Nona Anne’s Kitchen, after an autoimmune disease, lupus, cut short her career in social work.
The business produces Italian cookies and desserts, cupcakes, cake in a cup, biscotti, and bread, but it hasn’t built up much of a customer base thus far.
Sweet said she’s thankful the Schenectady Trading Company on Union Street will feature her and three other local, women-owned businesses that began during the pandemic, during a pop-up bake Shop 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Sookyung Lee of Niskayuna, founder of Asian bakery Ppang, along with representatives of Downtown Dough, which makes stuffed cookies, and Scotia Sweets, producers of cookies and various baked goods, will also be at the event, which will be on the two-year-old trading company’s front patio.
“It means everything to me,” Sweet said of the showcase.
Sweet sells her goods to Burhmaster Farm in Glenville and Full Belly Deli & Bakery, and she brings them to the Schenectady Trading Company.
Certified by the state as a home processor, Sweet bakes from home. But her goal is to work out of a storefront in Schenectady.
“When somebody puts one of my products in their mouth, the look on their face is what I live for. So to be able to sell my products and build up a clientele, knowing that they’re going to be happy with what they get, it’s very exciting.”
Sweet spoke of preparing for the showcase.
“With lupus, I don’t know how I’m going to feel day to day. Sometimes I don’t know how I’m going to feel hour to hour. So, with the baker showcase Saturday, I have to start preparing on Thursday, so that I have enough product, because it’s just me and my kitchen.”
Caroline Bardwell, owner of the Schenectady Trading Company, said all of the invited bakers are conducting a fair amount of direct to consumer transactions, as well as preorders, and online sales.
Doing business that way keeps them from interacting with customers.
“People are looking to buy local, and there’s still a lot of obstacles to identifying what those things are, and where do you find them,” Bardwell said. “What this event offers is the opportunity to interact with these entrepreneurs, thse talented bakers who make great products and are trying to offer something that’s different to the marketplace.”
Ten percent of sales will go to Street Soldiers Schenectady, a grassroots volunteer group that has been helping the homeless and needy in Schenectady the past two-plus years.
Bardwell said the trading company is a public collection point for Street Soldiers Schenectady.
The trading company has worked with more than 200 businesses, individuals and artists since it opened in September 2019.