5Q Friday profiles women who took a leap of faith career wise to start their own business and create the life they wanted. This week Andrea Reubin shares her story.
1.) Who are you?
Andrea Reubin, Owner and Chief Dessert Officer of Just Sweets. I live in St. Louis, MO, enjoy beekeeping (as a hobby) and 54 years old.
2.) What’s your business?
Just Sweets is an online dessertery, which is just like a bakery except with desserts exclusively. I operate out of the Midtown Enterprise Center, a business incubator with a shared commercial kitchen. Sustainable luxury is our focus – sustainable for people, business, and the earth by crafting luxurious desserts made with organic, fair trade, and local ingredients. What is really excellent about Just Sweets desserts is that they taste better because the ingredients are higher quality and the farmers are paid a living wage.
A favorite is the Chmocha-nilla Cake, made with Fair Trade cocoa, bittersweet chocolate, espresso, cane sugar, and vanilla. The business is set up so you can order one dessert at a time, or join a dessert club. We offer local delivery and ship nation-wide.
3.) When did you decide to take the plunge and “create the life you want”?
A few years ago it all came together. There are many threads, but certainly a big thread is that in a previous career as a social worker I met a 13-year-old girl, who was a migrant worker: she worked all day and did not attend school. She lived on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, MI, in a trailer crowded with family. And so here we are on the outskirts of a progressive community, which was definitely progressive about education, and yet she did not have access to that world. She and her family moved around the country from harvest to harvest. At the time I just thought about how her life must be so hard. It really wasn’t until much later that I made the connection between the conditions of her life and why my food is so cheap.
That’s so important. The food movement in this country has been mostly concerned about cultivation practices and how our food is grown — whether crops are rotated, whether pesticides are used, and so on. But what’s happening is more people are now thinking about the conditions of the farmer as well.
I have a big sweet tooth, and I love dessert, but it has to be worth it. When I decided to do this business, I wanted to make it as equitable as possible for everyone. I’m taking what is a very conventional profession — a baker — and making it my own, so my business model is quite different. The way my model works is the integration of people, planet and profit, so it’s not profit at the expense of people. It’s not profit at the expense of environment.
4.) Why do you love it?
I’m just so happy to be building a business that integrates so many different elements of my life and what’s important to me with my love for creating really excellent desserts, and taking a delicious bite out of poverty at the same time.
5.) What’s one piece of advice you have for anyone thinking of taking the leap?
Make good business decisions that flow from your passion (do what you love), values (ethical business model: people, profit, planet), limitations (know when to collaborate and ask for help), and mistakes (learn from them and then tenaciously move on).
-Contributed by Andrea Reubin. For more info, check out www.justsweetsdesserts.com.
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