Company: The Bakery on Bergen
Owner: Akim Vann
Founded in: June 2014
Based in: Prospect Heights
Link to website: https://thebakeryonbergennyc.com
The Bakery on Bergen wants sweets enthusiasts who visit its Prospect Heights location to know that it is more than a bakery.
In fact, owner Akim Vann says that her shop is like the “Cheers of Brooklyn,” with locals coming together to eat, gather and learn.
“We live in New York City and there are so many dessert places. At my bakery, you will find everyone converging. The baking here is just the proverbial ‘icing on the cake,’” Vann said.
Vann said that growing up, she’d always loved cakes and sweets.
In June 2014, she turned that love into a business.
Today, The Bakery on Bergen is a small, Black woman-owned business located in the heart of Prospect Heights and is known as a safe space for the neighborhood.
“Small businesses are the heart of America,” Vann said, adding, “Since the pandemic, it’s actually been busier. I’ve had a lot of support from the community.”
In addition to selling delicious confections (one crowd favorite is the chocolate chip cookie with smoked sea-salt) Vann also hosts math classes for children in the community.
“My speciality has always been mathematics and baking is very math-based,” she said. “We take a recipe and I have them do proportions to the recipes, some conversions, and more. I say that math can be related to everything and anything — especially baking.”
Vann, who has three sons and a daughter, said that her family is really involved with making the bakery a success, too. In addition to helping with operations inside, they inspired Vann to share her story with her neighborhood.
“My son and his girlfriend encouraged me to put a sign outside the door saying that I am a Black-owned business, and the community support has been really amazing,” she said.
For Vann, the bakery is a reflection of who she is.
And she hopes her dessert shop can be a place of comfort and zen for other Brooklynites, too.
“People are looking for something sweet,” Vann said. “There’s so much chaos right now that I think people are looking for a small pick-me-up.”
She leaves this message of hope for her Prospect Heights community:
“I think the silver lining during this pandemic is that we are tapping into our strengths. I think it’s just important to remember that we are our own resource. So we have to be resourceful. Look at this time as a way to sit back and reflect about what’s really important.”