Here at Danrie, we love hunting for the best of the best. You can say it’s kind of our thing. The good news is that we love sharing as much as we love the journey. One great recent find we (and our #DanrieKids) can’t seem to stop talking about is the (totally vegan, totally delicious, totally unique) donuts at Cloudy Donut Co.
Not only is Cloudy Donut one of the only Black-owned vegan donut shops in the country, but it is the first Black-owned food and beverage business in Brooklyn Heights. This is not accidental and is very much part of Cloudy Donut’s strategy. Each of their three locations (with a fourth location opening in the city next year) is strategically located in affluent neighborhoods to provide visibility and access to Black Entrepreneurship.
We stopped by their first NYC location and had a chance to speak with Zewiditu Jewel (pronounced Zody), who handles just about everything at Cloudy Donut, shy of making the donuts herself. Below, she shares the inspiration for the concept, what’s next for Cloudy Donut Co., and her own story.
Part of your strategy is opening locations in affluent neighborhoods. Can you share more about how this strategy came to be and how that’s translated into your success?
No one said we don’t belong here, so we just have to be. Bed Stuy is great, Harlem is great, but there are already Black-owned businesses there. We want to take up space where we are underrepresented. Opening in these neighborhoods creates new experiences for our consumers coming to support our Black-owned business and neighbors curious about vegan donuts. We’re very excited to share that our next space will be in the city. As a fully self-funded business, this is an important milestone for us. We’ll be one of the only Black-owned businesses in the neighborhood.
Aside from delicious donuts, what do you want to make sure customers walk away with after visiting?
This is so much more than just donuts. Yes, we make an incredibly delicious, high-quality product, but we’re also creating opportunities that may have otherwise not been available. This can be seen with our staff (the chefs making our donuts are all Black men) and The Brown Collective.
The Brown Collective serves to amplify the voices and presence of Culinary Creatives of Color; by providing education, mentorship, and direct visibility through our brick-and-mortar locations. One facet of what we do is a residency program; we invite chefs of color to create donut glazes for our donuts. You’ll see that we have 44 rotating flavors of donuts, many of which have been conceptualized within the Collective. Another facet is collaborating with more well-known chefs of color to create a curated assortment of donuts that are only available for a limited time. Proceeds from those sales go to a charitable organization of the chef’s choosing. We had our first collaboration in December with Chef Tara Thomas, and it won’t be our last.
We're a kids brand, so we have to ask: which donuts are kids/families most drawn to?
The Cookie Monster donut is by far one of the most popular donuts on our menu due to its signature look and color. You’d be surprised—I’ve seen an adult take the last one with a child right behind them in the line!
What’s a “sweet” memory when you think about your childhood?
I’m not the chef in our family, Derrick (Cloudy Donut's founder) makes all the food, but I set the table. I curate the experience and that’s how we work best. I was taught to be a hostess as a young girl. My grandparents often entertained and I was always setting the table, greeting and entertaining the guests until dinnertime. It’s pretty special to continue this tradition now in a profession with my partner.
What is a (random) topic you can easily talk about for 30 minutes/create a PowerPoint presentation on?
Mental health and wellness! I have a podcast called Sober in The Morning, which aims to redefine sobriety through conversations on mental wellness. Available everywhere podcasts live!
Visit Cloudy Donut
Address: 14 Columbia Pl. | Brooklyn, NY 11201
Hours: Friday-Sunday | 9am - 4pm
What to know: flavors are released every Wednesday and sell out fast. We recommend getting there early or calling 347.463.9628 to preorder!