Welcome to our next method profile on Sweet Generation! Our previous entry focused on using Impact Framework in social enterprise. In operating any venture, everything flows from your approach, and identifying a proper method helps you effectively fulfill your team’s initiative.
Together, we’ll be profiling interesting social enterprises to discuss an anchor method in their strive for social good. The term “anchor method” is to express the intentional and grounded nature of the approaches propelling a social enterprise forward.
This post is an outside observation of a company for inspiration in social enterprise initiative improvements.
In today’s post, we’ll look into the steadily magical Sweet Generation leveraging Transaction Shift. An artisan bakery hires young people of marginalized backgrounds to gain work experience and confidence.
Knowing the Company: Sweet Generation
Sweet Generation is an artisan bakery supporting young people in job training and entrepreneurship. Back in 2009, Amy Chasan, founder of Sweet Generation, transitioned baking from a hobby to a vehicle for helping youth. Bake goods originally supported the academic and enrichment programs she created. Her experience working on youth development and arts education within the nonprofit sector provided additional value to programs she managed.
Baking could no longer sustain the passion project once the program demands outweighed the baking funds. In 2012, Amy Chasan decided to build the passion project full-time “to remove barriers for disconnected youth by creating meaningful opportunities for them to learn real-world, tangible job skills while developing their interpersonal abilities and building a network.”
Sweet Generations saw much success, and moved onto a new phase in 2014 where the initiative established RISE (reach, inspire, shape and elevate). At this new nonprofit entity, youth participate in an internship program for job training in the food industry through the bakery. Early runs of the programs used private commercial kitchen space to train and develop the youths’ skills. In 2015, Sweet Generations opened an official bakery location in East Village of NYC.
Most youth interns come to Sweet Generations from youth development organizations in the area that collaborate with work programs. One example is the Boys’ Club of New York.
Since the early days, Sweet Generation gained national recognition; appearing in magazines and on television. Inspiring youth working for Sweet Generations was covered by the Today Show. Amy Chasan was personally acknowledged by the New York Knicks for “her efforts for providing NYC youth with job training opportunities through entrepreneurship and baking curricula”, and was a Sweetwater Clifton Award honoree in 2019.
Switching the Course of Action
Amy Chasan was working full-time at the NYC Department of Youth & Community Development when starting her passion project. Sweet Generation grew from that passion project, finally owning a brick-and-mortar location years later. As a social enterprise example, there is one lesson in the two journeys. Both journeys followed a transactional approach in the developing path.
Solopreneurs struggle to make decisions on moving their life from a 9 to 5 job into a self managed endeavor. Social enterprise is a similar career where people wanting to get in the field often find themselves seeking advice on how to maneuver a career switch.
Along the journey, Amy Chasan built Sweet Generation from resourceful approaches, and recognizing when it was time to transition. Before gaining a capacity for a physical location, the initiative steadily operated from private commercial kitchen space. To secure youth interns, Sweet Generations teamed up with organizations directly engaging the stakeholders they hope to help. Amy Chasan completed the enigma most transitioning entrepreneurs face: building while sustaining.
Transaction Shift describes an action transitioning the journey to the next step, which is an exchange of the current arrangement for a newer arrangement.
Learn When to Trade Places
Amy Chasan stayed at her full-time position until that part of her journey was no longer efficient for the growing workload of her passion project. The current baking operations could not support the project. As the project grew, the initiative became too large for the current conditions, or current arrangement. Realizing this mismatch meant there was a need to create a new setting for the initiative.
She chose to leave the 9 to 5 in order to produce more results for baking, which would earn sufficient funds the growing passion project. Later on, Sweet Generations gave up the private commercial kitchen approach to secure a physical location.
Each transaction of arrangement and approach led to a new place where the initiative could restart its growth. Staying in the same arrangement when the initiative is outgrowing the operations puts constraints on results, and eventually causes a reversal where the initiative may collapse. Then again, moving on too early would make the initiative more open to instability. In that setting, there would be a lack of foundation where a lot more effort is needed to make up for that gap of support. Such strain could exhaust the initiative.
Advice varies in entrepreneurship. Some entrepreneurs quit immediately to switch to their passion. Quitting abruptly may be necessary for actual progress to be made in a project. Diving into the start of a project can be an excellent catalyst. Considering another side, an abrupt switch is not the answer to every journey.
Sweet Generation’s journey provides a social enterprise example for people curious about maintaining their current life while building a side gig, or passion project, into something great. In the transition is a transaction from one arrangement of life to another. There is a trade into something more fitting.
An anchor based on Transaction Shift releases some pressure around making the “right” decision for your social enterprise. If you are currently on a transition, imagine the change as a transaction. Remember, the transaction is more concrete than hypothetical since you are exchanging an arrangement. Weigh the transaction to determine how fitting the transition is to the initiative or yourself. Any transaction that you deem is not yet needed can be a chance to continue building and optimizing.
Sweet Generation’s bargain Transaction Shift completes this profile. People Helping People Podcast is seeking methods clearly supporting an effective impact. Observations and discussions on happenings in the social enterprise community is a significant part of our contribution to social good. Continue to check-in for more conversation-starting content.