With many of us trapped in the house due to COVID-19, comfort food has become a saving grace during these tough times. Putting calories aside, there’s nothing better than being indulged by some of our favorite foods that make us feel like we’re right back in Grandma’s kitchen. Each bite brings back a memory from one’s childhood, and for anyone with a sweet tooth, Cranky Granny’s Sweet Rolls are sure to bring you back to a time where life just seemed simpler!
With the new year just making its debut, we're pretty sure many of you are working hard in the gym to stick to your new year's resolution and lose those extra 10 pounds. However, when that cheat day makes its way around, CEO and owner of Cranky Granny’s, Sianni Dean is sure to have you covered with her delicious sweets! In fact, we had a chance to sit down with Sianni herself to figure out how this young, 22 year old entrepreneur made a name for herself and what we can expect from her in the near future.
Thanks for sitting down with me Sianni! I’m curious to know how the idea of your business came to be and when did you gain interest in making baked goods?
So I actually started thinking about the business when I was 15. When I was attending Willingboro High School I was in this entrepreneur’s class and an alumni from about 20 years prior had come back to my school to give back to the students. He didn’t want to just come in and give the school money because usually when that happens you never know where it ends up. So in his way in giving back, he would come in and basically teach us how to be entrepreneurs. In addition, if you were part of this class you had the opportunity to win $100,000 to put into your first business and it would go to whoever was able to propose the best business idea. He also had a marketing firm so he’d be able to help us with marketing to sell our products.
Now unfortunately, I was in that class 3 years in a row and did not win any of the years but I didn’t let that discourage me from starting. In the midst of me brainstorming ideas on what to do for a business there was a girl in class who was considering mini desserts. I kept giving her different ideas and I brought up cinnamon rolls to her and she told me, “why don’t you just use one of your own ideas instead of giving other people your ideas?”.
That was basically the push I needed, and not to mention at the time I was also enrolled in a baking and pastry class and we were messing around with dough at that point. I had brought up to the chefs that I wanted to do a cinnamon roll business and she had me keep practicing at it until I fell in love with it. It wasn’t a masterpiece at first because I'm not a patient person and baking requires you to be patient. Eventually, they started to get better and around this time I was actually going through a heartbreak. I had a lot of built up negative energy and needed to find a way to release it.
Now I also knew how to cook, so when I started off, it started with me selling food platters and overtime I started introducing the cinnamon rolls as well. As I began focusing on that, I needed to consider what would differentiate me and help my pastries stand out. So instead of Cranky Granny’s Cinnamon Rolls I decided to do Cranky Granny’s Sweet Rolls, and little by little we started adding a variety of different flavors to our menu. As of now, we offer nearly twenty different flavors of sweet rolls.
So the business basically started just from selling to your fellow classmates at school. Where does your business currently stand and how has it grown into what it is today?
Well I was pretty close to the principal and the higher ups in the school so they’re the ones who allowed me to sell the food platters and sweet rolls. As soon as I turned 18, I went to get the official paperwork done with my logos and the trademark. In the course of waiting for everything to be finalized, I had graduated from high school in June and was able to finally launch Cranky Granny’s in August.
From then on we were a home base business just selling out of my mom’s house in Jersey for about 2 years. I then moved into my own apartment into another part of Jersey and was selling it out of there for a while. When we decided to make the big move to Texas, that’s when we transitioned into a restaurant although it still isn’t our first restaurant yet. In moving to Texas the plan was to get our feet wet out here, build our brand and eventually open up our own restaurant which is our short term goal for 2021.
Where did the inspiration for the name Cranky Granny’s come from?
The logo is actually meant to be my granny. I had a designer create a picture of her and it’s supposed to bring back some nostalgia. If your granny made it then you know it’s gonna be good and the sweet rolls are gonna be delicious. It’s also a play on words because you got cranky and you got sweet, so it's supposed to be something memorable even if you can’t pinpoint where you’ve heard it. Once you hear the name once you’ll never forget it. Even down to little things like that from the age of 15, I was doing market research and the research even broke down to “what colors make people hungry?” or “what colors make people happy?”. I was going in depth because I knew if I was gonna do this, I was gonna do it for the long run and the long term goal is for Cranky Granny’s to be a franchise.
“I don’t believe in plan B. I believe in plan A and that’s the only plan that’s gonna work. I know there’s a lot of things that could happen in life and that’s just what comes with the job but Cranky Granny’s Sweet Rolls is my plan A.”
Well with a mindset like that I'm sure there’s no doubt that you’ll end up far. With that being said, how does it feel to be a successful entrepreneur at such a young age and where do you think you get this business mindset from?
Honestly I don’t see the success. I think when you’re living it you don't really realize it. Even when I was recently mentioned in Forbes I don’t think it hit me the way it hit other people. I just thought this is just another stepping stone in the journey of Cranky Granny’s becoming a franchise. I’m not there yet and I feel even when I get my first store I may not realize it.
In terms of where I get my mindset from I’d definitely say my parents. From a young age they taught me all about supply and demand and saving etc.
“I just always had that hustle mentality.”
I know you’re one who stresses only having one plan and riding it out till the end, but I'm curious to know if it wasn’t for Cranky Granny’s, what could you see yourself doing? Did you ever consider going to school or simply pursuing a different business?
Ever since I decided that Cranky Granny’s Sweet Rolls is what I wanted to do at 15, that’s what everything came down to for me. Everything else I wanted to do went out the window because I told myself when I do this I know what it’s gonna turn into and there was nothing else for me. Cranky Granny’s is my full time job right now and I don’t plan on doing anything else for the rest of my life. The way I see it, I’m already good at what I’m doing so why change that?
I couldn’t agree more! You’re in charge of your own destiny and as long as you want it then you can achieve it and you're a perfect example of this. Nonetheless, I’m sure your journey to where you are now has not been an easy one. What would you recommend to another young black female trying to become her own boss as you’ve done?
I would give 3 pieces of advice. One being do your market research. Too many of us are hopping into these different industries and have no clue what’s going on and we think it’s just gonna come to us. It doesn’t work like that. You need to know what you’re getting into, your market, your target audience etc. I push that to everybody no matter what it is you do.
Secondly, would be having a role model. I think it’s important to have people that you look up to that are doing better than you so you have something to strive for. My role models consist of millionaires and billionaires because I know one day I want to be standing right next to them. All of this while keeping in mind that it’s still important to maintain your individuality.
Lastly would be not giving yourself any type of excuses. This is something I always stress even from my first interview I had out in New Jersey. I told them I don’t give myself any excuses.
Look at me like you're gonna look at that middle aged white man. I don’t want you to see that I’m Black. I don’t want you to see that I’m a female. I don’t want you to see that I’m gay.
I want you to look at me the way you would look at anybody else and hold me to those same standards because if you’re gonna take it easy on me, I’m not gonna be able to get to the level that I need to be at.
Looking towards the future, where do you hope to see yourself and your business in the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years I see myself having at least 3 Cranky Granny’s stores. Of course, I also hope to touch my first 7 figures. I want to be able to do public speaking on a larger scale. I have spoken at elementary schools, middle schools and high schools, but I just want to be able to inspire more people.
Well now that you’ve mentioned public speaking I’d love to get more into it. I’ve seen a lot of photos on your social media of you talking to all these different students and trying to inspire young minds. When you get the opportunity to speak to these kids what do you feel like is your main point that you try to stress to them?
The main thing is just living for them. Of course I really push entrepreneurship because not only am I an entrepreneur but also because the pandemic has been a great way to show that these 9-5 jobs will drop you like it's hot and it’s solely for the benefit of the business.
I also talk a lot about generational wealth not only to the kids at these schools but also my nieces and nephews. Generational wealth and financial freedom are things that I focus on a lot. I actually would love to come up with a game or a book or even a course for kids. Within the past 6 months I’ve been trying to decide what exactly I want to do for kids. It’s really not all about money and that’s something a lot of people don’t understand anymore. It’s realizing that money gives me the opportunity to do more. It gives me an opportunity to touch different places, reach different people and inspire them with that money.
If you haven’t had a chance to bask in the glory that is Cranky Granny’s Sweet Rolls be sure to head over to crankygrannys.com to place your order ASAP! If you’re looking to follow Sianni on her road to success and see what she has in store next, be sure to follow all her social media pages @crankygrannys.