#QGTM: Athenia Parks Robinson Puts Her Heart In NYC Bakery Business

#QGTM: Athenia Parks Robinson Puts Her Heart In NYC Bakery Business

If your’e footloose and wandering in Laurelton, New York, a blink beyond the towering 226 St. sign, you’ll see a pink panorama featuring the only fully-fledged sweets shop in Southeast Queens.

It’s Saturday afternoon. The sun is at its peak. Celebration is in the air. And it is just another weekend for the energetic team at Sweets Treats Delight Bakery, where delicious treats baked from the heart meets the needs of the community. This is where Black folk experience upscale level hosting, presentation, and the aesthetic of a Black woman in pink who radiates class and compassion.

Former senior paralegal Athenia Parks Robinson is a Brooklyn native and a longtime Jamaica, Queens, resident. Friends call her Tina. Since 2019, Tina is proud to have built a brick-and-mortar store rooted in a foundation that champions community empowerment and keeps children off the streets.

(Photo: Atiya Jordan)

Tina hails from hardworking Caribbean parents who early on instilled etiquette and generational wealth. She was keen about her early career. She loved debating, obtained certified paralegal degrees from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and worked more than 20 years in the legal field. But corporate America was not the final destination.

“I thought I loved law that much,” says Tina, donned in an all-pink pantsuit. But, she recalls, “something changed.” While on maternity leave with her now 8-year-old son son, Tina couldn’t continue living in a cycle of uncertainty. “I told my husband, ‘This can’t be life.'”

What began with a passion baking Jiffy box cakes at age 8 turned out to be the answer she needed to hear at 35. Cupcakes. “God is answering me at this point,” Tina said with conviction.

From decorating cupcakes to dipping strawberries for neighbors and loyal customers, Tina began baking from her home in 2015. Robinson told BE about her anticipation of filling orders. “I’m at work and I can’t stay focused.” With a sparkle in her eye, Tina declared that she loved baking because she loved it more than the corporate world.

(Photo: Atiya Jordan)

When you walk in to the bakery, you’re enamored immediately. A botanical garden blooms from the ceilings and the vases on marbled tables. In a corner, a colorful game of Connect Four for game nights. Emboldened letters of Baked From The Heart appear on your left, etched onto the large bright pink wall.

“Anything you do, you have to love it,” Robinson says.

Beneath the slogan, a melodic Sweet Brunch sign resides front and center in an emerald wall of greenery and white rose vines. Beside it, a gallery of decorative cake photos invites you into all of the unique sweet possibilities. You’re standing in an oasis where kids can come to explore their cake decorating skills.

“Clearly it is a representation of who I am,” Robinson says of her aesthetic, adding that what she provides is “always on another level.” Before stepping into the warm smell of baking, the showcase of grab-and-go cakes are on the right. Above the flight of stairs are more candied affirmations until you get to the surprise middle. Happiness is only a cupcake away.

On the left, there are three shelves filled with an assortment of brownies, baked-from-scratch cookies, and cake mix for purchase. You can pair these options with the bakery’s offerings of ice cream. But there’s more all around.. Cake slices. Cheesecakes. And cupcake galore! The newest addition to the collection is the “S’more” cupcake topped with marshmallows, a Hershey chocolate bar, and a graham cracker.

(Photo: Atiya Jordan)

While customers come in and put in their orders, Tina is in the back, where the magic happens. It is where she ensures that every batch is as fresh as possible before it gets to you. Even high school interns take up space sifting sugar and dough in the kitchen to help make this possible. “It just shows me that the bakery is still serving a community on a broader platform rather than sales,” Tina explains.

For Tina, tapping into community resources is the move that helped her get a deeper understanding of what everyone needs, including hospitals and shelters. The rewards began after Queens-based BlaQue Resource Network connected Tina to New York State Senator Leroy Comrie and 100 Suits for 100 Men, a growing organization that addresses socio-economic issues, as well as injustice issues, with community involvement and activism.

100Suits contacted Tina in hopes of placing their children in internships rather than idling on the streets where violence lingers.

“When I partnered with them [100 Suits], I loved it. It brings me joy to know that not only is it a bakery but it is an outlet to mentor, to speak, to have someone hear from a different ear,” Tina says confidently. With so much compassion, the business owner illustrates daily just how much she encourages and uplifts her interns to take up space and to be more proactive, including teaching dress etiquette, time management and work ethic.

“The transparency of social media is what further loses people’s identity,” Tina says. “Everyone has chosen to take on something that really wasn’t theirs.

“The system wants to go into AI,” she adds. “There is going to be a certain elect group that will run that. I let my children see the whole plan to stay ahead and let your voice be heard. Present yourself how you want to be treated.

“If you meet me, you’ll never forget me. I am here really teaching life lessons.”


BLACK BUSINESS MONTHCelebrating National Black Business Month 2023