Beverly Hilaire    

2015 Andrea C. Silbert Rising Star Award Winner

Beverly Hilaire, "A Sweet Place," accepting the
2015 Andrea C. Silbert Rising Star award from Susan Penta,
Chair, Center for Women & Enterprise and Susan Rittscher,
President & CEO.

Beverly Hilaire, had a delicious vision for her neighborhood.  She dreamed of a modern-day sweet shop with a hint of “yesteryear,” a place where people could gather together for a sweet treat and a smile.  With that, the idea for A Sweet Place in Dorchester, MA was born. 

Using all of their savings, Beverly and her husband opened A Sweet Place in 2012 in the Field’s Corner neighborhood of Dorchester.  The sweet shop started out small but quickly gained popularity as a community staple, receiving lots of praise and local accolades.

But running A Sweet Place wasn’t exactly a piece of cake.  Beverly and her husband experienced lots of delays and setbacks along the way, from securing working capital to staffing the shop.  The largest setback occurred when Beverly’s mother and sister – her two primary staff members – encountered serious health problems within months of each other and could no longer work, forcing Beverly to keep the shop running solo.  Working 16 hours a day six days a week, while also trying to raise three children, proved to be an immense challenge.  Sadly, Beverly was forced to close A Sweet Place in January 2014.

But ever the entrepreneur, Beverly was determined to re-envision, revitalize, and re-open A Sweet Place.  She learned about CWE’s Community Classroom Business Planning course in Roxbury and immediately enrolled in the 12-week program.  “That class was exactly what I needed,” Beverly recalls.  “It made me assess every detail of my business and its viability.

Through CWE’s Business Planning course, Beverly realized what she needed to do to scale her dream to a profitable, sustainable venture.  She excelled in the program and even went on to win the $5,000 pitch contest at the end of the course.  Beverly credits much of her success to her fellow CWE students.  “My classmates reinvigorated me with their entrepreneurial spirit.... We strengthened each other.” 

Now Beverly – along with the backing of private investors – is poised to re-open A Sweet Place in a brand new location in Dudley Square this June.  A Sweet Place will combine a traditional candy shop with an ice cream parlor, coffee bar, candy buffet, and bakery.  Alongside more than 1,000 different candies and gourmet chocolates, the Dudley Square location will also offer space to accommodate meetings, small events, and private parties. 

Beverly’s goal is to make A Sweet Place a centerpiece in the community it lives.  Her hope is that people will be able to take refuge in a whimsical neighborhood place that pays homage to the candy and soda parlors of yesteryear.  Ultimately, for Beverly, it’s all about building community.  “It is our hope that as the shop grows closer to the local customers through excellent service and participation within the community, these residents will grow closer as a community and embrace our neighborhood as A Sweet Place.”