Phind out Phriday: Just Desserts, Heather Esposito of Sweet Freedom Bakery

There is something to be said for the fulfillment of liberty. It's alluring, exhilarating, and absolutely positively......sweet. And I don't think there is anyone better than Heather Esposito of Sweet Freedom Bakery here in Philadelphia who could better tell you how sweet freedom (pun intended) really is. Heather took what initially looked like dietary restrictions and with the help of her business partner Allison, started a business with the goal of creating tasty liberating health supportive baked goods. She took a list of what she couldn't eat and started an empire of what she and lots of locals can eat. Sweet!

Phreedum: Talk to me a little bit about how you went from baking the idea of Sweet Freedom to serving it up?
HE: I have always had a sweet tooth. However, it’s a little hard to have  sweet tooth when you develop a gluten sensitivity and are pre diabetic. Once I became aware of this two things happened. I was presented with a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge- how can I still enjoy my sweet tooth while being health conscious? The opportunity- Bake foods that account for dietary challenges. I passionately accepted the challenge and took advantage of the opportunity to not only create great sweet baked goods for myself, but to partner with a friend, Allison (who is allergic to wheat, dairy, and can’t eat sugar) and bake for people like us.  Everyone should be free to eat sweet treats.
Phreedum: Why baked goods? Why not sugar free candy, or some type of ice-cream/frozen yogurt shop?
HE: Well, my sweet tooth is a little specific. I like baked goods. When you have the type of sensitivities I have baked goods usually have to go. I just refused to let them go. I figured there had to be a way to make flavorful health supportive baked goods, so that’s what I chose to do.
Phreedum: What has been a highlight for you as an entrepreneur?
HE: I think at Sweet Freedom we work pretty hard to make our products taste good period. Not good for “gluten free” or “dairy free” or “whatever” free. When people come in and share how good our  goods are and they can’t tell a difference, it means a lot to us. It’s also been really great when families come in and parents say that we are the only place they can bring their child for cookies and cupcakes and other baked treats. We get to be a place parents and kids look forward to going to. Lastly, we’ve gotten a good amount of exposure. We were on the show Cupcake Wars and Foodography filmed us for a project they are working on called Unique Sweets which will air this spring.
Phreedum: What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
HE: Knowing who we are and what we do has probably been the most important lesson I have learned so far. We have and continue to get customers and other people who want us to do more than what we do. They want us to “consider” other food allergies and expand our offerings. But that’s not who we are and it’s not what we do. McDonald’s doesn’t make pizza, they make burgers, and they don’t make excuses for it. We can’t please everyone. We know who we are and what we do and we are dedicated to doing it well.
Phreedum: How does Sweet Freedom change the lives of others?
HE: We allow people to enjoy food. There are people who have not been able to eat baked goods in years and we give them the ability to indulge in foods they used to love. We also get to help people feel normal. People don’t have to say “I can’t eat that” because at Sweet Freedom they can. At Sweet Freedom people can have their cake and eat it too.
Phreedum: What do you think people under estimate about being an entrepreneur?
HE: Generally speaking I would say the amount of work, especially when you are first starting a business. Specific to Sweet Freedom, while we love being able to offer unique one of a kind special sweets, there is a sweet price that comes with the cost of the ingredients we use. We search far and wide for our providers and so we are very happy when we find a distributor who has an ingredient for products we offer, can deliver in a reasonable amount of time, and the costs works within our budget. What that means however is we often are limited in terms of who we can get our ingredients from and our distributors at times will discontinue a product we really like.  
Phreedum: Who or what motivates and inspires you?
HE: I am somewhat competitive. So In part it’s my inner competitor. Our customers also motivate us to stay fresh and create new ideas. They keep us on our toes in terns of providing health supportive delicious products.  
Phreedum: Why Philadelphia?
HE: Besides being from the Philadelphia area, the National Foundation for Celiac Disease is here in Philadelphia.
Phreedum: Can you share with our readers what Celiac Disease is?
HE: Sure. Celiac Disease is a condition which damages the small intestine preventing the body from absorbing nutrients it needs to stay healthy. The damage occurs as a reaction to eating gluten which is often found in wheat, barley, and rye.
Phreedum: Thanks! Is there anything else that brings Sweet Freedom to Philadelphia?
HE: Philly is a food town. Philadelphians like to eat and the city is filled with amazing great eateries. It makes sense to be here.
Phreedum: If Sweet Freedom was a dessert?
HE: We’d be a lemon glazed raspberry bar. There are different  elements, a bunch of ingredients go into the bar, it’s sweet and a little tart (some balance), incorporates fruit (we want to encourage healthy life style), has that bottom cookie layer, fruit, and crumb on top. It is multi dimensional and appears to almost everyone, just like Sweet Freedom.

Wanting to indulge your own sweet tooth? Visit , follow on Twitter @sfbakery, or stop by the shop located at 1424 South Street, Philadelphia, PA.

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