One Business At A Time, A Former Mill City Reinvents Itself

By Keith Eddings
The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Danaris Mazara shares her inspirational story of success and how the SBA played a critical role in helping her along the way.


A difficult pregnancy about 10 years ago left Danaris Mazara unable to work. At about the same time, her husband was laid off from his manufacturing job at Haverhill Paperboard.

Bankruptcy followed, then foreclosure.

At one point, Mazara’s mother gave her $35 to buy groceries. Instead, she bought the sugar and other ingredients to bake flan, a popular Dominican sweet treat, which she sold to friends and former co-workers. The sales gave her the money to buy more ingredients. Within two weeks, the $35 grew to $500.

Also growing was a business plan for what became Sweet Grace Heavenly Cakes, a bakery that Mazara moved from the Cambridge Street home she bought in 2012 to an Essex Street storefront she bought in 2015.

Most of the $160,000 cost of the storefront came from an Eastern Bank loan backed by the federal Small Business Administration, which supports start-ups and existing businesses that don’t have the credit ratings needed for regular commercial bank loans. Another $37,000 came from the Lawrence Partnership and Mill City Community Investments, two nonprofits that support economic development and job growth in the region.

Mazara, a native of the Dominican Republic, now employs nine people, including her husband.

Her immigrant success story would have been impossible without the SBA loan that allowed her to buy the storefront at 98 Essex St., Mazara on Friday told a roomful of some of the most powerful people in Washington, Boston and Lawrence, including U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Lowell, Mayor Daniel Rivera and the city’s entire statehouse delegation. The group gathered to discuss the future of public-private partnerships and their future in what Tsongas said is “a new era” in Washington.

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