Started by Caitlin Makary in 2016, Dank is a Brooklyn-based small food business that makes delicious vegan bread in a variety of flavors. Encouraged by friends who loved the original vegan banana bread recipe and a desire to work for herself, Makary decided to start what has become a successful woman-owned business with a deep commitment to the local community.
The transition from clothing designer to small business owner came with many lessons as Makary had never worked in the food industry before. She sought support from her sister and brother-in-law who run an eatery in Ridgewood. Their expertise and her determination guided her through the challenges of getting a food handlers license, accessing bulk ingredients, learning how to do bookkeeping, and using kitchen equipment.
Dank’s location in New York City, one of the densest markets in the country, has allowed it to sustain its business without having clients outside of the five boroughs during its first five years in operation. Due to the popularity of its line of products, including Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, Original Banana Bread, Pumpkin Bread, and Lemon Matcha Bread this year, Dank has expanded its market to Upstate New York, Long Island, and New Jersey.
While more accessible, affordable production and storage space in Brooklyn would go a long way towards helping small businesses, the sense of community is unlike anywhere else. Dank prides itself on its social engagement. Through Makary’s ties with the New York City climbing world, it works with Young Women Who Crush, CatRock Outdoors, and ParaCliffHangers.
The shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic brought a set of challenges, but Dank was able to pivot and create DIY (Dank-It-Yourself) baking kits. Despite sales being down, they were able to keep the team paid their regular wages the entire past year and continue their social outreach. During the height of the pandemic Dank delivered $5,000 worth of Dank donations to more than 25 hospitals, FDNY stations, and EMT stations around the city.
Dank’s creativity and commitment to the local community have set it up for success. In the near future, Makary hopes to begin writing a cookbook and continue consulting work with small/startup food businesses while expanding Dank’s volunteer work, sponsorships, and donations. Dank’s mission is to not only to provide a delicious product but also to create a more equitable world through its business.