Hamilton pastry chef and artist, Dina Hamed, has devoted her life to creating beautiful things, and she’s just stepped up her game with the launch of her own business that specializes in the art of fudge.
Hamed, known to her close friends and family as ‘Doonz’, is the creative force behind Studio Doonz, Hamilton’s newest online sweets shop, which launched last month.
“My husband and father-in-law are obsessed with fudge,” Hamed said. “They always said: ‘Hamilton needs its own specialty fudge shop.’”
With more time on her hands, thanks to the pandemic, Hamed embraced the moment and took the opportunity to make this dream of building her own business a reality.
“I always wanted to do this and I’ve been putting it off for a while,” she told InTheHammer. “And I wanted to give fudge its own home in Hamilton.”
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Hamed is no stranger to the sweets game: she’s an assistant pastry chef at Hamilton’s always delectable Sweet Paradise on the West Mountain and she and her sister had their own custom cake business, ‘She’s Got Cake,’ that they built over the past couple years.
“But I’ve always wanted to have my own business and take it to the next level,” she said.
Fudge is certainly next level sweetness.
Hamed employs the most traditional method for producing fudge. It’s a very detailed and lengthy process that involves fresh ingredients and plenty of science.
“I won’t cut any corners because making it this way produces the most delicious fudge,” she said. “It just melts in your mouth.”
Right now, Hamed is making flavours like Maple Walnut, Milk Chocolate, Vanilla, Chocolate Vanilla, Cookies and Cream, and Chocolate peanut butter.
“I have so many ideas for more flavours,” she said. “Once you have perfected a good base recipe, there are so many flavours you can do.”
While it seems Hamed has the recipe for success, the pandemic presents several challenges to launching a business even as it creates opportunity.
Despite this bump in the road, Hamed took a chance on Studio Doonz because she sees it as a way to give people a little joy at a time when they need it most.
“Everyone is at home worried about money, not wanting to spend money on luxuries,” she said. “But indulging in luxuries and getting comfort is so needed right now.”
Studio Doonz has also provided Hamed with a way to really connect with people during this time of isolation.
“When people come by to pick up an order, I’m so happy to see them, to have that human contact,” she said.
Getting her business off the ground wasn’t a solo effort as Hamed tapped into the free resources provided by Digital Mainstreet which helped her set up a Shopify store to sell her goodies.
That resource, Hamed said, was invaluable and she encourages others to tap into it if they’re looking to make a change to their small business in response to COVID-19 or launch a new one.
“Small businesses will be needed to help shrink the economic hole created by the pandemic,” she said.
For now, Studio Doonz is working toward doing its part: business is bustling, Hamed said, to the point where she will soon be halting made-to-order services to ensure she can keep up with demand.
“It’s been going really well,” she said, noting that she’s been able to attract a lot of attention just on her reputation for her custom cakes (which are still available to order through Studio Doonz) and through family and friends.
“I’m doing what I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time,” she added. “If it ends prematurely, I’m so satisfied that I got to do something I’ve always dreamed about doing.”