An Interview with Destiny Sund (Owner of The Confectional) on mental health, her journey as a businesswoman, and how she supports her community.
By: Lexi Nguyen, Brian Christianson, Victor Valdes, Jessica Chhay, and James Anderson, University of Washington Bothell School of Business
If you venture downtown Seattle and stroll through the historic Pike Place Market, you’ll find The Confectional. This small but efficient brick-and-mortar has been baking their signature mini-sized cheesecakes since 2006. Owner, baker, bookkeeper, designer, and executive taste tester are a few of the roles Destiny fulfills to keep the doors open and her customers happy.
Destiny has long been a supporter of NAMI Seattle and has participated in the Depressed Cake Shop event since 2016.
Destiny graciously took time out of her busy schedule to be interviewed during our Tuesday evening class at the UW Bothell Campus. Destiny came trudging down the campus hallway with two large tote bags filled with ice and her signature cheesecakes. She entered the classroom modestly and with a warm smile, spread out multiple boxes packed with individual cheesecakes onto the tables. Before formal introductions could take place, flavors of lemon, chocolate, raspberry, and vanilla were being passed around the room, and students indulged with little hesitation.
After everyone devoured their snack, Destiny began to take us through her journey of starting her business and how she’s learned to deal with the mental health challenges that come with being an entrepreneur. Her advice was practical and honest as she shared experiences of employees dealing with the loss of a loved one, navigating the pandemic, and the basic steps she takes to protect her own mental health. What clearly started to evolve was a raw and truthful account of someone with passion to wake up early, roll up her sleeves, and do the creative work she cares about. Destiny takes the time she needs in this busy world, but clearly does everything she can to have a positive impact in caring for the mental health of her employees, neighbors, the Pike Place vendor community, and herself.
A lot of people enjoy baking or cooking as a creative outlet, do you find the creative elements of your work beneficial to your mental health?
DS: Absolutely, baking is very creative and the Confectional was founded by two very creative people so we didn’t want to give that aspect of our lives up. Coming up with new flavors, we let our friends usually vote on the flavors that we opened the store with. But surprisingly, the vanilla latte cheesecake wasn’t a big success like we thought it would be in Seattle. *Destiny laughs* So it’s really fun to come up with different designs, different ideas.
What made you want to be involved with the NAMI Seattle?
DS: NAMI Seattle reached out to us years ago, even before the pandemic. I’m in a position to donate back to things that are important to me and that I want to support. NAMI reached out and I think we all knew someone that struggles with depression or that we ourselves experience from time to time… I’ve known people that live with depression and it was a no-brainer to give to that particular organization. This year we did donate cheesecakes. In the past we made cheesecake dip for them, and it’s gray on the outside with sad faces on it and then when you bite into it, it’s a rainbow of cheesecake. *laughter*
Outside of your business, how have you seen mental health awareness and support positively impact the Seattle communities?
DS: So we’ve all been through a pandemic and I think there’s a sense of togetherness, at least in Pike Place Market there is because we all own businesses down there, we know each other and we say hello. During the pandemic, it was like a ghost town. It was hard, and I think people felt lonely. I think I see a more openness in Seattle to say “hey, I’m having a hard time.” I myself see a counselor, and I don’t feel [worried] that I’m open about sharing that because I don’t feel that there’s a stigma with that so much anymore – but perhaps there was for more people before the pandemic. I just feel like we talk more, we’re just a little more real, less showy.
Running a business can be stressful, what are some steps you take to protect your own mental health?
DS: I remind myself, that I’m one person and that I can only get so much done during the day and that I need to take care of myself as well and I remind myself that it’s just cheesecake and it’s not the end of the world if I don’t get all of baking done or that if my team can’t get all the baking done. I just need to take a breather once in a while and just kind of reevaluate what’s important in life, and the business is important. But if I’m not available mentally to handle the challenges, then I don’t have a business.
Are there any proactive measures you want to take as a business owner to promote the mental health of your employees?
DS: That is that is a good question and that’s a very, a multilayer question. I am not a mental health professional. I am a small business owner, so I have certain goals that I need to make…you know I pay my rent and make payroll. I have learned over the years that taking care of people is the most important, and making the sale is not as important. I truly care about my staff and my team. Putting things back into perspective for my team makes a big difference in mental health.
What’s the key message you want depressed cake shop visitors to leave with?
DS: There’s always hope, even when you don’t feel like there’s hope. That old saying is completely true, what a difference one day can make. When I was in my layoffs, saying a lot of goodbyes, that’s depressing… But what I would tell myself is it just takes one yes to get to that next job or career. When I was told no I would tell myself, that is one less no that I have to hear until I get to the yes. So, even though some of us feel that all hope is lost. One day can make a big difference, so don’t give up.
With her experience, Destiny has learned how to manage a younger generation and they culture bring to the workforce. Destiny emphasizes being kinder and gentler and encourages people to think about how you’d like to be treated and to be a teacher, not a manager. She’s a businesswoman who’s passionate about improving the mental health for her community, a strong supporter of NAMI, and a fantastic example of how people can make a difference in their communities using the resources around them. Most admirably, Destiny has empathy and will – which are key ingredients to good mental health.
Make a stop by The Confectional for their seasonal peppermint bark! Please consider supporting NAMI Seattle through volunteering or making a donation. Keep an eye out for their Depressed Cake Shop event next year.
This article is a collaborative piece created by a group of University of Washington Bothell School of Business students from Professor Laura Umetsu’s Business Writing course. Special thanks to Ashley Fontaine and Jennifer Tejada Sanchez for their assistance.
This interview has been edited and condensed for content and clarity.