Brown Sugar Desserts celebrates one year; receives special grant

By NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter

HELENA — Brown Sugar Desserts by Renea has been treating customers to sweet desserts for just more than a year now in Helena. Despite a worldwide pandemic and other challenges Renea Spear and her husband John Spear have been able to thrive and find success.

After a successful first few months, Spear said that she had seen an excellent response from the community.

“The reception from the community has grown since we opened on Aug. 12 last year. Since then, we have expanded our menu. Originally we were just known for cinnamon rolls,” Spear explained. “We were expecting a decline around the first of the year, however, we were hitting our peak of picking back up, then COVID-19 hit and we had to shut down.”

Despite these concerns, Spear was able to adapt by offering curbside pickup for dedicated customers, and tried new things to expand their menu and better accommodate the wants of their customers.

“The community that we are in has definitely came out to support us since then. We always see people supporting us in the community Facebook groups,” Spear said. “Since we have opened at half capacity, we have developed a Saturday morning crowd that likes to come in for breakfast.”

Aside from offering cakes, muffins, cookies and other sweet treats, the store now has breakfast items like grit bowls, sausage and soups and sandwiches for the coming colder months.

The business was helpful during the pandemic, offering curbside service to those supporting them during a difficult time. (File)

Aside from the support of the community, Brown Sugar Desserts has also been selected as a recipient of a grant from Discover that is designed to support black owned businesses in the midst of the pandemic.

“Discover started this program back in July where they give out $25,000 to small black owned businesses to help them during the pandemic. Customers nominate you on Discover’s social media page,” Spear said. “I put it out on our business page, and left and right people were tagging us. The very next week, Discover sent us a message telling us that our name had been pulled, and I couldn’t believe it was real, but it was.”

Overall Spear is grateful for Helena and the surrounding communities supporting their business and wants to do whatever she can to listen to their wants and needs to move forward successfully into 2021.

“We want to expand by listening to the customers’ wants and doing what we can to accommodate that,” she said. “We want to gauge what is really working and want to bring different desserts to our menu and expand our breakfast menu as well.”