Innovating sweets for all

TKhan

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Sweet ReserveCourtesy of Sweet Reserve by Maha Studios

Sumaiya Vahora and Humera Rauf are partners in beginning their venture, Sweet Reserve. Vahora worked for over ten years in the education space teaching math while Rauf worked predominantly in the business world helping small businesses grow. When Rauf went back to teaching, she met Vahora.

"During my early years as a mom, I lost sight of this dream and felt like how could I regain this vision. I found that the Muslim community was missing a halal bakery which offered amazing desserts from all over the world. Through my partnership with Humera, I was able to regain this dream. We shared the common vision of really changing others lives here and across the world. As we begin this endeavor we really want to always remember our goal in being change makers and not just focus on making money." Vahora explains how she wanted to start a business so that she could impact the world.

As with any business, struggles persist. Vahora started from her small kitchen working nights to perfect the recipes that they have today. She would work all night to make cakes for free for her friends and family to get shot down each time with criticism. Over time and after many trials, she was able to come up with the Sweet Reserve's signature chocolate cake. Before meeting Rauf, she was at a low - contemplating closing her business due to the family restraints and antagonizing comments from everyone. People kept telling her that no one really buys desserts. However, when she shared her vision with Rauf, "it was the lining of the stars" because Rauf could see how much love and dedication Vahora had for this vision.

Rauf had been struggling on this journey during this time trying to find her own place in this world. She had helped two small businesses prior to her teaching position become very successful but she wanted to fulfill her dream of taking her own business to the next level. As Vahora and Rauf began their journey, the unpredictable happened and the pandemic hit. During the pandemic, both ladies thought this dream had come to an end before starting. During Ramadan, both women experienced Covid-19 causing their parents getting very sick. Vahora's father passed away due to the illness. It was during this time coupled with prayers, hope and dedication that Sweet Reserve became very busy.

"We have not been able to slow down since then!" exclaims Vahora.

Vahora wants the world to know that money isn’t everything.

"Dreams and working hard are the driving force to be successful. Keeping your vision and intentions focused on giving back to God will help grant you success one day. Our company’s goal is to be creative, innovative and inclusive. We want other talented people to come to our bakery and use our space to help kick start their dreams. We want to support schools, charities and other artists to showcase their work," Vahora says.

The hope that in the near future Sweet Reserve will be able to franchise.

"We have so many requests from people to open up a shop in their neighborhood and we hope we can one day. Again our goal is to build ourselves as much as possible so that one day we can have our very own sweet reserve foundation, dedicated to improving the community in any way possible! Sweet Reserve is not just a bakery. We hope to make it a community and are hosting authors, stand up comedians from local areas, book clubs, classes, paint night, etc to keep the meaning of sisterhood and brotherhood alive," Vahora adds.

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I write about culture, politics, parenting, religion, and health. My work has been published in The New York Times, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Vox and Prism Reports among others.

Illinois State
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