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At Cinsational, corporate know-how spells sweet success

It sounds like a trick question. How can you be a fitness model and the owner of a successful small bakery at the same time?  

Jenn Hardin does just that as the proprietor of Cinsational Sweet Treats. She wakes up between 3:30 and 4 a.m. to measure, mix and sample sparingly. She bakes until dawn, shipping out a fresh batch of scones and other treats to Nordstrom, her largest client, six days a week.

Because Hardin uses the same base for her muffins, she’s able to taste sparingly. “I love cupcakes, and when I make them I’ll eat one, but I also compete in fitness bikini pageants twice a year, so I eat very, very healthy,” she says. “I go to the gym four to five times a week. I have a 4-year-old, so I have to keep up that energy!”

In fact, keeping to a strict diet is what helped news of Hardin’s skill in the kitchen spread. As an IT recruiter, she’d bake late at night and take the treats into her office or to small functions. People began requesting donations for small events, and, eventually, asked her how to buy her product. “It truly started out of my own kitchen,” Hardin says.

Local investors have latched on to this energetic baker, and Hardin has already turned down offers to supply Nordstrom eateries in Columbus and Pittsburgh until she has a retail space. Meanwhile, she’s growing her bottom line with private events.

Hardin’s IT recruiting background isn’t divorced from her current success, either. The same skills she used to match job hunters with employers came into play when she won her pivotal wholesale account with Nordstrom by proving she was a match for the store’s clientele.

“I use all natural, though not organic, high-end ingredients," she says. "A higher-end clientele will pay for that and appreciate it." She offered to present her product to visiting higher-ups with a personalized touch, and helped managers streamline invoices by reducing the number of vendors who supplied their café, helping sweeten the both the store's menu items and their bottom line.

By Robin Donovan
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