In honor of Scaling Up Philadelphia, our new program for growing profitable and sustainable black, brown and woman-owned companies, by providing them with the tools, resources and operating system they need to be successful, we’re highlighting each of the incredible members of our inaugural cohort of seven dedicated, hardworking and inspiring entrepreneurs.

Next up are Keshia Davis and Cynthia Benton, co-owners of Denise’s Delicacies. Denise’s Delicacies was founded by Denise Gause, an aspiring, self-taught baker and decorator with a love for making homestyle desserts. Now, her nieces, Keshia and Cynthia, carry on the legacy.  The result? Sweet smiles on the faces of everyone who enjoys their treats.

Keshia and Cynthia have always had a love for their aunt’s business. Since they were young, they have spent time helping Denise make treats that people love. It wasn’t until almost 2 years ago, however, that Denise’s Delicacies became their full-time job.

“My aunt has always been there. Even when I was working elsewhere, Denise’s Delicacies was a part of my life.” 

Keshia, who has a background in sales and marketing, worked as a project manager at Aramark for many years. Cynthia currently works as the CFO at Methodist Services. She splits her time between her full time role and responsibilities as a co-owner of Denise’s Delicacies. The two share the responsibility of continuing the legacy of their aunt’s beloved business. Keshia oversees the day-to-day operation.

“Our skills really compliment each other. We both have MBA’s that focus in different areas, so we can come together and are the perfect mix to run the business.”

Denise’s Delicacies has been a staple in the community for over 30 years. While most of their sales historically have taken place in-store, they now have expanded into the wholesale arena and are in three Shop Rite’s and will soon be expanding into 12.

“We’re looking to continue to grow the business and expand into the wholesale arena as well as one day utilize Amazon delivery services,” Keisha shares. “For now, though, we’re focused on managing our 25 person operational team and assuring that we’re taking the necessary steps to set the business up for continued success. And of course, profitable growth.” Cynthia shared that during the pandemic their “priority was stability.” Now they are excited to explore new opportunities to continue to move the business forward.

“One thing we’ve learned about running a business – you really have to commit to putting the work in. Especially at the beginning. There are no off-days.”

Keshia and Cynthia also shared that the Scaling Up Philadelphia Program resources have been invaluable to them and their business. “Our number one lesson,” asks Keshia, “How important it is to go back to the basics. The fundamentals are critical to put in place before you work to scale up and grow.” Cynthia also highlighted how beneficial the 1:1 coaching has been and the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded business owners.

Most importantly, the program has reinforced something they always knew. You have to be disciplined and put in the work in order to be successful as an entrepreneur.

“This program truly shines a light on all the areas we have to work on and gives us the resources and tools we need to grow more sustainably.”

Their best piece of advice for other entrepreneurs? 

Cynthia and Keshia both emphasized the importance of hard work when it comes to running a business. “If you put in the work, you will reap the rewards,” Cynthia shared.

Don’t be afraid to make hard decisions about your business. Don’t be afraid to blow your plan up. Things change and you have to be willing to cut your losses, pivot and go in another direction if necessary.

And if you haven’t already, check out the stories of the other members of our first Scaling Up Philadelphia Cohort, Alpha Transports, The Greater Knead and Electro Soft Inc.!

To learn more about the Scaling Up Philadelphia program or apply for our upcoming Cohort contact us here!

Tags: , , , , ,