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Life & Work with Alicia Alleyne

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alicia Alleyne. 

Hi Alicia, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
Bewitched Brownies was birthed at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic after I was laid off for the third time from a position within the culinary field. Cooking has always been a passion that I did not begin to pursue until a year before my 30th birthday professionally. I attended the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC and, upon graduation, was able to land an internship as a cook with a very prominent organization. Once I completed my training, I was brought on board as a full-time catering cook and was provided the opportunity to prepare meals for the entire building staff and worked alongside our chef to cater events for high-profile celebrities and political figures. I learned so much in this position and was wholly devastated once I realized that the entire kitchen staff was being laid off due to the building closing for renovations. That moment was the beginning of my roller coaster journey in the culinary world and the first of three layoffs that would ultimately push me towards entrepreneurship and my need to want better for my family. The pandemic was and still is a very trying time for many families. It was the push we needed to build a brand we could call our own. I remember my fiancé drilling in my head repeatedly that I am capable of more than I give myself credit for and haven’t even begun to see my worth. Instead of letting the layoff get the best of me, my oldest daughter and I decided to combine our passions to create what is now Bewitched Brownies. As a full-time DAAP student at the University of Cincinnati, Amiaya is the creative genius behind our brand. She came up with the color scheme and packaging for bewitched brownies, designed and drew our logo, co-managed our social media accounts, and assisted with fulfilling orders when she was home from school. The part that impresses me the most is her ability to make the dean’s list every semester since she’s been enrolled in school while co-managing the business with me. Bewitched Brownies launched on October 31st, 2020, and originally started as an e-commerce shop on Etsy. In January of 2021, Bewitched Brownies was officially formed as an LLC and became a registered and licensed home bakery. By April 2021, Bewitched Brownies, LLC transitioned from Esty to build our website powered by Shopify. Today, we continue to create new convenient brownie desserts with the dream of landing on the shelves of all major retail stores one day. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Operating and managing Bewitched Brownies has not been a smooth road. I will only be lying to myself if I say that it was. What many people may not understand about entrepreneurship is it takes a particular type of individual to be able to see the ups and downs of running your own business all the way through to the end. I was raised in NYC, and I always say that growing up there prepared me for so much because it’s such a tough city to live in, but I can say without a doubt that not even NYC prepared me for the emotional, financial, and psychological road bumps that you incur along the journey of being an entrepreneur. We are everything behind our brand, accountant, photographer, marketing and promotion, customer service, fulfillment, etc., and juggling our full-time positions and tending to our family. It’s a lot, and you learn quickly that time management, planning, and organization need to be your very best friends to succeed. Many would say that we are talented for being able to adapt to so many different roles. Still, I would say that we are doing what is needed until we can hire a team and hand these roles over to others that would be able to perform them at a more optimal level so we can focus on other aspects of the business. We hope that as we continue to take our brand through the following classes of growth, we can provide opportunities for others by bringing them on our team to handle many of the roles we are currently doing ourselves. Another struggle that many do not understand is every business, especially in the beginning stages, has to find its target audience. Over the first year of operating Bewitched Brownies, we have realized that we do better with the local community than we do over social media. Sometimes, it is difficult to narrow down your target audience online because you are also fighting against social media algorithms. Once you think you have it figured out, boom, something changes, and you’re not getting as many views, likes, or shares on your content as you may have before. Despite the struggles of building your own business, it is a very fulfilling experience. It reveals skills within you that you may have otherwise not known you had; it takes you out of your comfort zone and pushes you to build relationships and connections with others. It gives you a sense of confidence and purpose, especially when you can start giving back to your community. I’ve hit many roadblocks during our journey with bewitched brownies thus far but giving up because of the struggles is not an option for us. 

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a chef by trade and have been cooking professionally since 2014. As a little girl, I was always unsure about what I wanted to be when I grew up; I just knew I wanted to be successful and make a lot of money. My family is originally from Barbados, a small but gorgeous island in the Caribbean, and every time we got together for family gatherings, food was the center of our world. I enjoyed cooking with my mom and learning new recipes; I especially enjoyed when she baked and was inspired by her ability to make cakes, bread, and other sweet treats without ever measuring anything. As I grew older, I started preparing the meals for our family gatherings and events, at times making dinner as my way of giving my mom a break. If there is one thing I can say about my family, they know food and always enjoy everything I prepare. It was the realization that the culinary world is where I belonged. My specialty is Caribbean cuisine, and I am known for never making anything as it is traditionally supposed to be. I enjoy putting my spin on dishes, mixing ingredients that typically wouldn’t be placed together, and preparing meals that create memories. When my fiancé and I first started dating, he was the pickiest eater I ever came across, and he was not afraid to let me know his likes and dislikes. Cooking for him challenged everything I knew about food. I can say he’s pushed me more than he knows to be better in my profession, be better in the types of dishes I create, be more sensitive to others’ palates, and not just make things I enjoy eating. I am proud of myself for having the courage to take this journey in a continuously evolving field, and I am even more proud of never giving up on my culinary career even after the layoffs I have encountered. 

We’d love to hear about what you think about risk-taking?
I believe that taking risks is necessary sometimes. It’s the defining difference between who you are and who you want to be. I always say that in life, you have to take a leap of faith and hope for the best; the worst that can happen is things don’t work out, but you will never know if something will work or not if you are too afraid to take the risk in the first place. The first time I took a significant stake in life was leaving my full-time management position for an internship when I graduated from culinary school. I was afraid because I knew my income would change drastically. I also did not know if my training would lead to a permanent job; I just knew that it was something I needed to do; it was a part of my journey and one I never regretted. Another risk I will always reflect on in my life was leaving NYC in 2017 to move to Ohio. It was probably the scariest thing I ever did in my entire life. Still, it was a risk that was necessary because, without that, I would not have learned as much about myself as I have since I’ve been here; my daughter Amiaya discovered her passion for the Arts in Ohio, and I met my fiancé. I had my youngest daughter, who is a superstar in the making. Without taking that risk, the idea of Bewitched Brownies may never have come to fruition, which is probably my most significant risk taken thus far. I always go into everything I do with positive thoughts, but I am always somehow able to prepare myself for the worst. 

Pricing:

  • Single Boxes of Brownie Cookies $12.50
  • Single Variety Pack $13.00
  • Brownie Bundle $22.00
  • Cookie Wax Melts $5.50
  • Dessert Candles 6oz $9.00

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