Nonprofit gives women entrepreneurs a chance at sweet success at Philadelphia Flower Show

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Marian Dossou knows the struggles of constantly being surrounded by desserts.

"All the desserts. All the desserts. You've got to skip meals, portion control," Dossou said with a laugh.

She's used to being surrounded by cakes as part of her business KakeMi Cakes, personal-sized cakes that bake in the microwave. But now, she's got to fight off the temptation of two more sweet treats: brownies and banana pudding as she works side-by-side with two other dessert entrepreneurs.

KakeMi Cakes, Sweet Nina's and Jillian Bakes have teamed up for a confectionary trifecta at one of Philadelphia's biggest events: The Philadelphia Flower Show.

"I am so excited," said Dossou. "I remember going to the Philadelphia Flower Show at the convention center as a child."

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This year, the flower show is outside at FDR Park. It's the nation's largest and longest-running horticultural event, and it's something Jillian Blacken, founder of Jillian Bakes, never imagined herself having an opportunity to be a part of.

"The fact that I'm going to be a part of it this year is just absolutely incredible," said Blacken, who created her vegan brownie company in 2016.

Nina Bryan's reputation for making amazing banana pudding has brought visitors from around the world to her booth at Reading Terminal Market. But being a part of the Philadelphia Flower Show is a new level for her.

"This magnitude and something that receives so much notoriety. It's amazing," she said.

The three women will team up at the Blooming Desserts booth at the flower show. The opportunity came as a result of their work with The Enterprise Center, a nonprofit that's focused on supporting minority entrepreneurs and under-resourced communities.

For entrepreneurs in the business of food, The Enterprise Center helps by providing low-cost shared commercial kitchen space in West Philadelphia.



"When you have a space like this that is available for rent and available on an as-needed basis, you really give entrepreneurs a chance to level up," said Alex Styer, a spokesperson for The Enterprise Center.

Dossou wouldn't have had a chance to get her cake-baking business off the ground if it weren't for The Enterprise Center's commercial kitchen.

"You can't (make food to sell) out of your home (in Philadelphia) if you want to get into the food business," she said. "So, without this kitchen, I wouldn't be in business. I wouldn't have anything."

Wanting to help get their entrepreneurs on a bigger platform, The Enterprise Center partnered Dossou, Bryan and Blacken, all African-American women, to give them the opportunity to have a pop-up dessert shop at the flower show. It's the first time that The Enterprise Center has created such an opportunity.

"It's something totally outside my reach," said Dossou. "This is just an awesome opportunity."
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