Today we’d like to introduce you to Eboni Cohran.
Eboni, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I grew up in a house full of cooks ~ my grandmother, Ernestine Rodgers, and my mother, Lorna Cohran-Berry. I watched them prepare home-cooked meals for our family as a child, yet my passion for food and being in the kitchen didn’t come until later in life. I started cooking for family and friends, and the smiles on their faces after the first bite gave me the confidence to stay in the kitchen doing what made me happy. I became a Food Network and Bravo Top Chef fanatic which allowed me to learn. Cooking became a way for me to unwind and experiment with recipes adding my own flare to them.
A few years ago, I was scrolling on Instagram, and this restaurant had posted a picture of their version of Sweet Potato Cornbread topped with a scoop of butter. I was amazed, like, “Wow, these are two things I love to eat but never thought of putting together!” So, of course, I took to the kitchen to make my version and knew mine would be better, lol. The first to try it was my aunt, Sherrie Cohran, and she raved about it so much that I made it for our 1st Easter gathering at my home. It was a hit with my family as well as a few members from Living the Word Church. It became another one of my most requested dishes to make.
I began to make orders regularly for the Thanksgiving holiday, then word of mouth started to spread, so much so I had to set a cut-off date for baking to be able to enjoy the holiday with my family. In 2020, I toyed with the idea of turning my bread into a business and ended up creating the logo that would be the face of my small business. I then shared the news with my family and close circle of friends asking for nothing in return but their prayers and support.
Poetically Sweet was born November 16, 2020, in honor of my grandmother, Ernestine Rodgers whom I lost on Father’s Day of the same year. A beautiful poet in her own right, who not only warmed people’s hearts with her words but her delicious baking, too. Watching her in the kitchen, I always admired the pure restraint she took in making sure flavors were perfect, and everything was pleasing to the eye before you even took a bite.
I started consulting with my uncle, Dennis Rodgers, a chef, to develop flavor profiles that would compliment my Signature Sweet Potato Cornbread. Within the first few months of business, I created four butters – Honey Vanilla, Cinnamon Honey, Peach Bourbon, and Rum Raisin; eventually adding two more flavors – Buttercake Moonshine and Grigio Apple, after playing around in the kitchen on my own.
Now it was time to introduce my product to others, Kim King of CafeBiz 618, located in Fairview Heights, IL, gave me that opportunity on February 14, 2021, as a vendor at the Sweet Affair Valentine Pop-Up Shop. I sold out that day, gained a new customer base, and made some worthwhile connections I hold dear to this day. This first step out of faith allowed me to become open to other vendor opportunities not just locally but in Oxford, MS, Chicago, IL and other cities to make a name for myself.
At the suggestion of my best friend, Candace Wright, I turned two of my butters into cobbler options – Peach Bourbon or Grigio Apple. The menu for Thanksgiving expanded to include Candied Pecan Sweet Potato Cornbread Muffins and once Easter approached, I added Sweet Potato Pie to complete the menu. My uncle jokingly said, “we’re going to have to start calling you the Sweet Potato Queen.” It has been a journey, the wheels in my head still turn trying to keep Poetically Sweet at the forefront.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been a smooth ride for Poetically Sweet as a small business. It came to life during the pandemic, I was battling depression and dealing with a breakup, so I felt like a fish out of water. Everything was new and overwhelming to me in so many ways. I had watched other people start businesses for so long that I figured it would be easy, and boy was I wrong. It became a 24-hour job from marketing to getting insured, obtaining my LLC, picking people’s brains for solid advice, and so on. I alone was now responsible for the growth, stability, direction, and daily operation of Poetically Sweet. After only a year and 7 months, I realized that I needed to work in my business and not just on it, that it was ok to delegate responsibilities instead of trying to be a one-woman show.
After my vendor event this past Mother’s Day weekend, I chose to take a break to reenergize and regroup. Not only do I run my business, but I am also employed full-time, a student in my senior year at Saint Louis University and am a single parent to two beautiful children, Nick, who is 19, and Kyleigh, who is 6. So, balancing my personal life and business life has been an extreme challenge. Taking this much needed break has taught me keeping up with the grind 24 hours a day seems fruitful; however, allowing my mind and body the necessary time to recharge is more important to thrive and have longevity.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am extremely proud of my small business because it was born out of the love for my grandmother and my passion for cooking. My Signature Sweet Potato Cornbread is unique because it is something that has never been done before in this area. When given a chance to speak about my product, I always tell people it is simply a two for one. If you love sweet potatoes and if you love cornbread, it is a match made in heaven. Customers eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they even pair it with ice cream as a dessert using my butters as the cherry on top so to speak. I simply smile because I make sure every order is “written just for your taste buds!”
So, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you before we go? How can they support you?
I am extremely easy to reach, and open to cross-promotion on any local or social media platform. I participate in giveaways, create product packages, and do whatever I can to help other small businesses. I always tell people supporting or collaborating with other small businesses does not always require money. If you have patronized Poetically Sweet, leave a review, engage in my social media efforts and SHARE, SHARE, SHARE! And if you have yet to purchase my product(s), spreading the word about Poetically Sweet to others works wonders, too. When you support another person’s dream or success, it won’t ever dampen yours. That is why I would love to connect with other business owners to learn, partner for promotion efforts and grow.
- Website: www.poeticallysweet.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/poeti_callysweet/?hl=en
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/poeticallysweet/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/psweet114
Shawn E. Cooper, S.E. Cooper Photography