Courtesy of Luxury Sweets & Treats
Luxury Sweets & Treats is a local confectionary brand, born of self-care.
Rodnesha Chatman admits she's not much of a cook. She wasn't even that well-versed in baking before she founded her local confections brand, Luxury Sweets. However, when she thinks back on what informs the artistry she applies to her cakesicles, cupcakes and candy apples, it's pretty clear to her how she developed her talent.
"I don't feel that I am an artist of any sort — I can't draw or anything — but my grandmother is deaf, and growing up, she helped my mom raise us," Chatman says. "By her using her eyes and hands to communicate, that forced us to pay more attention to detail and be more observant. My artistic inclination comes from that attention and thoroughness, which comes through in my teaching and everything I do in life. That has played a role in my creativity — being immersed in American Sign Language and reading the body language of others, I soaked it all in and it translates to my artistic abilities."
For the past three years, Chatman has been using this creativity and talent as the force behind Luxury Sweets & Treats, a custom confections and treats brand that allows her to make edible art for everything from weddings and baby showers to sports and corporate events. Though she's thrilled by the reception her creations have received, Chatman says that she never really intended to make a business out of her sweet treats; the work simply took on a life of its own after she started exploring confectionary as a type of self-care while working in deaf and hard-of-hearing education for the Special School District of St. Louis County.
"Back in 2019, my district did a huge push toward self-care, so we were doing professional development on what things we could do in and out of school," Chatman explains. "I started to think about what I could do to really love on myself and relieve stress from day to day, so I figured why not try this?"
Courtesy of Luxury Sweets & Treats
Rodnesha Chatman is a deaf educator by day and entrepreneur by night.
Though Chatman really began honing her craft in 2019, she notes that the genesis of Luxury Sweets & Treats predates her school district's self-care push. A few years prior, she began experimenting with making chocolates for family, but she got caught up in the business of being an educator and never took it much further. The push from her day job to explore passions outside of work inspired her to pick up where she left off and see where she could take it. She began researching and experimenting, teaching herself from books and YouTube videos and eventually became confident enough to share her goods with her coworkers. They were dazzled and began asking her for custom orders, which made her realize that she was on to something.
Chatman's big break came courtesy of a coworker who asked her to make custom treats for her wedding. At first, Chatman was unsure that she was ready to take on such a large project, but with her colleague's encouragement — and a check written in her business' name that forced her to start an LLC and open a corporate bank account — Chatman took on the event and surprised herself with what she was able to accomplish.
If that wedding was the confidence-builder Chatman needed to get Luxury Sweets & Treats off the ground, the pandemic was instrumental in building the brand into a bona fide business, as customers clamored for ready-made, local treats they could enjoy themselves or send to those who needed a pick-me-up. Though she can't help but feel somewhat uncomfortable with finding success during such a challenging time, Chatman is happy she was able to bring joy to people in the midst of it all.
Despite her success, Chatman is still committed to her day job in deaf and hard-of-hearing education and is not giving it up just yet, if ever. She notes that her dream is to eventually have a storefront, not simply to sell her treats but to employ high school students and young adults so that they learn about entrepreneurship and see that there are options for them outside of the expected college path. It's the teacher side of her — something she will never give up no matter where Luxury Sweets & Treats takes her.
"Now I am just trying to figure out to duplicate myself, because I can't keep up with demand," Chatman says with a laugh. "I'm still working as a teacher and loving it, and when I clock out, I step into the role of entrepreneur and treat-maker. I still enjoy doing it and enjoy being creative, but now I have to find self-care from my self-care."