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Black Owned Toronto has been highlighting and promoting incredible black-owned businesses across the Greater Toronto Area for the past year. Recently, they announced that they had secured a retail location at STC, a major retail shopping centre, and will be featuring Baked by Té alongside other vendors in the future.
The opening of this retail store is currently set for May 29, if COVID restrictions are lifted by then. This marks a major milestone for Black entrepreneurs in the community––Black Owned Toronto shared that it is extremely rare for any black-owned company to exist in a major mall, and that they lack shelf space and recognition in most major retailers. The goal for this retail location is to focus on helping small companies get exposure and a space to flourish.
Shante Bartlett, the heart and soul behind Baked by Té, considers herself a lover of all things sweet. Her passion for baking first started when she was a young girl helping her mother bake her signature Jamaican rum cakes, spiced buns, lemon pound and carrot cakes. Watching her mother's passion baking for others grew on Bartlett and eventually she started baking herself, specifically vegan cookies.
When she first transitioned into a plant-based diet four years ago, she noticed many vegan desserts she came across were either too sweet or were packed with ingredients she couldn't recognize. This prompted her to do research on vegan baking and how to create well-textured vegan cookies.
After lots of trial and error, Bartlett launched her passion into a business in December 2020. She chose to focus specifically on perfecting plant-based cookies, because in her opinion, cookies are the great equalizer. She explained that cookies always help brighten someone's day by offering them a box of freshly baked cookies and a personalized note. One of her own biggest pleasures is curling up on her couch with a warm cookie, a beverage and a good TV show, and she wants others to experience the same.
Bartlett highlights that cookies are extremely versatile and the options using different flavours are limitless––there is no 'one way' to create the perfect cookie, as every person has their own preference.
Currently, Baked by Té sells four different cookie flavours with the intention of expanding as Baked by Té grows. The flavours she currently sells are glazed cinnamon swirl cookie, brown “butter” dark chocolate chunk cookie, glazed lemon cream “cheeze” cake cookie and the triple-chocolate brownie cookie.
All of her cookies are dairy, egg and nut free and made with high quality, organic ingredients. Her goal is to keep creating delicious and flavourful plant based cookies using the best locally-sourced ingredients she can access. For the month of July, Bartlett plans on introducing a new cookie for her birthday month.
When Baked by Té's spot within the Black Owned Toronto retail store was confirmed, Bartlett started to prepare for her cookies to be sold out of the store, since she currently sells made to order cookies that are packaged in bakery boxes. In preparation for the retail store, she had to research creating labels, individual packaging and solidifying her wholesale suppliers.
Bartlett expressed this new venture has been a learning experience, time consuming with lots of ups and downs, but very fulfilling at the same time. Though there's still some ways to go until Baked by Té opens up, she is thrilled for this next step of her business.