The Pandemic Did Not Pause Their Purpose: Meet Three Black Women with NEW and Thriving Dining Spots in the South Suburbs

The road to entrepreneurship is like going on a roller coaster ride for the first time. It’s filled with excitement, fear of the unknown, ups, downs, dips, twirls, and turns. Even when all your t’s are crossed, and I’s are dotted, starting a business can be challenging. Imagine doing it all in the middle of a pandemic. The world was shut down for months, and most people are finally getting acclimated to the “new normal,” which consists of social distancing, six feet, please, and wearing face masks and/or coverings everywhere you go.  How and why would anyone want to take on such a significant challenge amid uncertainty and unmeasured risk factors?

Let us introduce you to three Black women who took the leap of faith and launched and/or reopened their businesses during a time when, unfortunately, many companies, just like theirs, have had to shut their doors permanently. I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with D’Nita Horton (DH), owner of Sweets Addict Bakery and Cafe in Country Club Hills; Ottoweiss Campbell (OC), owner of On Point Cafe in Tinley Park; and Lakeysha Love (LL), owner of  Sugar Head in Hazel Crest. Though different, these three ladies are all on the same journey: the pursuit of their passion, purpose, and profits, pandemic or not.

From the House to the Hills

D’Nita Horton is the owner of Sweets Addict Bakery and Cafe in Country Club Hills, which opened May 18, 2020. Before starting this new business, D’Nita was a hairstylist for 26 years and didn’t know anything about baking. Her mom was the baker of the family. She stopped doing hair and decided that she still wanted to make money but still enjoy her work. D’Nita talked with her husband and mom and decided to attend the French Pastry School of Chicago. Sweets Addicts will have you wanting to buy everything on the shelf with the sweet aroma of cupcakes, cobblers, pound cakes, and the enticing display of pastries, specialty coffees, and shaved ice. D’Nita says that she was a completely different person after she graduated. She’s been a pastry chef now since 2017 and is now reaping success as a former hairstylist baking from her home to currently serving up sweet treats in her very own shop in the Hills. She is also 100% self-funded?!

This is a God Thing

Ottoweiss Cook is the owner of On Point Cafe, which hosted its grand opening on June 27, 2020, in Tinley Park. In addition to this new venture, Ottoweiss is also a prophetess, motivational speaker, and author. She opened On Point because she has a genuine love for all people and wants people to feel special every time they enter through the doors of her cafe. Ottoweiss is serving up a little bit of everything in her cafe; savory eats such as turkey wraps and vegetarian chili to sweet eats like cupcakes and other pastries. She hopes that when people come to her cafe that they’ll leave feeling like everything was “on point” from the quality of the food to their customer service. From the smile you’re greeted with you from the staff to the inspirational sounds filling the cafe, On Point provides its customers with an experience that makes you feel good on the inside.

Created to add sweetness in a world that can be so sour at times.

Lakeysha Love is the owner of Sugar Head in Hazel Crest, IL. A former hairstylist and owner of an online boutique, she decided to step out on Faith during a pandemic and while working a full-time job to launch a completely new business in September 2019. Sugar Head is not open in the winter months, so they were closed December – February; reopened on March 1, 2020, only to then have to shut down just two weeks later due to COVID-19.   Sugar Head reopened its doors during the first week of May. Lakeysha works a full-time job for a major candy distributor, all while she owns and operates Sugar Head.  Customers feel the love when they enter the doors of Sugar Head. It’s like sweet nostalgia from the days of the “candy lady” and the in-house “candy stores” from the block. From homemade funnel cakes, made fresh for every order to the loaded fries and throwback treats like pickles, sunflower seeds, and bomb pops, Sugar Head has something for the kid in you AND the kids with you.

Opening any business comes with highs, lows, struggles, and triumphs. What was your experience like launching/reopening in THESE times?

DH-Sweets Addict: I’ll admit I was worried. In the beginning stages of getting the business opened, I was excited, but that was before the pandemic kicked in. So when the pandemic happened, I was like ‘oh my God, did I do this at the wrong time.’ But people said they would support it. So I said I’m going to go through with opening the bakery and just pray on it and hope that God carries me through this. Social media, Facebook showed up and showed out for us. The minute we opened our doors, everyone that came through here said they heard about us on Facebook. Everything was just really, really good. It’s been a blessing for us, a serious blessing.

OC-On Point: I had a great experience launching during the pandemic. It felt like God was with me the entire time. God made a way for me to do this. I honestly didn’t have any hindrances because I was already prepared – everything was in place. I had a strategy and purchased everything I needed to open. God’s favor was all over this.

LL-Sugar Head: I posted the business on Facebook, and it just went viral with 3.3 thousand views and 800 comments. We never had it like this before the pandemic. I had to hire two new people over the last couple of weeks because we’ve been non-stop every day, all day. And I’m hiring one more person to help us keep up with the demand. We are truly blessed, and God is so good!

 What or who sustained you during your journey from idea to implementation? From Point A to opening?

DH-Sweets Addict: My core support system includes my husband, Kurt, my mom, and my sister-friend, Tina. After my husband and I discussed my new career path, he agreed to support me. In fact, he paid for my schooling. My mom, who is the master of the pound cake and queen of the cobblers, was also very influential. She brings the old school with cobblers and pies, and I bring the new school with cupcakes and cakes. It’s the best of both worlds when it comes to baked goods and sweet treats. Finally, Tina, who owns Vegan T’ease in Orland Park on La Grange Road, gave me insight, words of encouragement, and talked me through a lot of stuff. When she opened her business, she had no help, so her goal was not to do that to another person. She took me under her wing and told me what I needed to do. If it weren’t for her, it would have taken a lot longer to open.

OC-On Point: I never had a “Point A,” I had a “Point F.” Faith was the enforcer on this project, [period].

LL-Sugar Head: It’s so crazy. I do have my family support. When I initially brought this to my husband, he was like, ‘you do hair, let’s stick with that.’ After I talked to him and showed him all the research I did and how I took my time to put everything in order, I showed him my business plan, and he finally said he was on track with this and agreed that we could get this done. From that point, we talked to our three children and came up with the name, Sugar Head. My family used to call me “sugar head” when I was younger. All I ate was candy, and my husband would say that we have more candy and snacks than food. So the name was a no-brainer. All of us have had significant input in the implementation of the business. Our funding is a mixture of our personal funds and loans.

Is there anything you’d like to share with aspiring and new business owners?

DH-Sweets Addict: Always believe in yourself. Follow-through of your dreams and inspirations. Steer clear of people who try to discourage or put down your vision. Stay laser-sharp focused, take your time, and do your research. One day God said this is what you’re going to do. I put my pen to the paper, followed through with it and did what I did. Collaborate and talk to people who are already in business, and when you find that person(s), stick with them! Link yourself with like-minded people, especially people who are willing to help you.

OC-On Point: Drive, momentum, and God have to be the center and forerunner of your visions. You have to plan and be strategic in your planning.

LL-Sugar Head: Don’t give up. If you have an idea or something in your heart, and are passionate about it, keep moving forward. If you put the work in, God will pull you through. Do your research and stay consistent. Finally, don’t freak out when you receive a bad review. Assess the situation and decide what points are valid and warrant a change in how you do things. People have their own opinions – good, bad, and indifferent. Work to be better and chill.

DH-Sweets Addict: Always believe in yourself. Follow-through of your dreams and inspirations. Steer clear of people who try to discourage or put down your vision. Stay laser-sharp focused, take your time, and do your research. One day God said this is what you’re going to do. I put my pen to the paper, followed through with it and did what I did. Collaborate and talk to people who are already in business, and when you find that person(s), stick with them! Link yourself with like-minded people, especially people who are willing to help you.

Like a roller coaster ride, it only lasts for so long. You blink, and the ride is over – you open your eyes and realize that you survived. These three women are proof that if you give 100% of your time and energy to what you believe in, develop and maintain a tight, encouraging, positive tribe, and have Faith in God, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE, even prospering in a pandemic.

One thing is crystal clear about D’Nita, Ottoweiss, and Lakeysha: though they are different, they all confidently proclaimed that they were created and equipped to what they’re doing at this appointed time. They are serving up deliciousness in their ways while simultaneously sharing an environment filled with great vibes, great people, and great sweet and savory eats. So, if you didn’t know Country Club Hills, Tinley Park and Hazel Crest are indeed places to go in the south suburbs of Chicago.

Take a trip to the south suburbs to support these three phenomenal women and be sure to follow them on Facebook:

  • Sweets Addict Bakery and Cafe, @sweetsaddict, 4048 183rd St, Country Club Hills, Illinois 60478
  • On Point Cafe, @onpointcafe, 16661 80th Ave, Tinley Park, Illinois 60477
  • Sugar Head, @sugarhead, 3140 175th Street, Hazel Crest, IL 60429
  • Special Mention: Vegan T’ease, @tsvegantease, 14600 LaGrange Road, Orland Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

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