From warm kitchens, lots of laughter and heartfelt conversations, Momma as she was affectionately called by the family, was Gay’s Great-Grandmother. Momma, Grandma, and Mommy shared not only their stories, wisdom and love but all of their family secret recipes. Gay always wanted to hangout with the elders and from the time she was six years old, each of them taught her how to bake many dessert dishes, but sweet potato pie was always her favorite.
Gay who is a Registered Professional Nurse has always baked family dessert recipes for the holidays and special events for friends. It was while baking these legacy desserts passed down generationally, that Gay decided to share the wonderful taste of these southern traditional home style recipes with the rest of the world.
After Gay attended a Women’s Enterprise Development Center breakfast (WEDC) with her good friend Kecia Palmer-Cousins, Kecia was asked to partner with Gay in launching this business venture. Kecia graciously agreed and honed in her legacy family business expertise and academic business achievements. Thus, Gay as Founder and CEO, and Kecia as COO, G&K Sweet Foods, LLC was established in 2007.
As a M/WBE certified company with New York City and New York State, these Momtrepreneurs and co-owners of G&K Sweet Foods, LLC manufacture and distribute Grandma’s Momma’s Legacy ‘licious gourmet sweet potato pies. Using only the best ingredients, these pies are good to the last crumb. Pies can be purchased online and at various specialty shops as well as the Westchester Community in Valhalla, New York. As a growing business, G&K Sweet Foods looks forward to adding other delectable desserts to their legacy ‘licious line. Presently, our newest addition is the universal household favorite, the chocolate chip cookie.
Gay is the Co-Founder/Owner and CEO of G&K Sweet Foods, LLC. The family run business was launched in honor of Gay’s Great Grandmother, whose recipe and spirit are the foundation of the business. As the CEO and visionary of the company, she is responsible for identifying growth and networking opportunities to expand as a Minority Women’s Business Enterprise. As well, she will continue to pay homage and pass down to the fifth generation, her daughter, their family legacy of wonderful recipes.
In addition to her position as the CEO, Gay is a Registered Professional Nurse and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. She has over twenty five years of experience in the Nursing Profession. She has worked in the areas of Pediatrics and Neo-natal ICU, Medical/Surgical Nursing, High-Tech Hyperalimentation Infusion Therapy, Home Care and Managed Long Term Care organizations. She is Certified as a Home Healthcare Nurse and has practiced in New York, Georgia and Connecticut. She has held several Nursing Managerial, Director and Administrator positions for over fifteen years at various healthcare institutions. Presently, she works as a Senior Clinical Business Systems Architect for a Special Needs Health Plan Organization in New York City.
She is the proud mom of a brilliant 24 year old young lady who recently graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing with a 3.88 cumulative average. She also holds two Baccalaureate degrees with a 3.56 cumulative grade point average, and is a member of the Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society, and Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre Honor Society from the prestigious Bennett College. Joh’vonni generously volunteers with day to day operations of her momtrepreneur’s business. She assists with everything from editing press releases to attending business development workshops and seminars. She also volunteers for My Brother’s Keeper, works as a Lifeguard for the YMCA and teaches group and private swim lessons. Joh’vonni has mastered honesty, integrity, discipline, kindness and honors her family legacy. It is an privilege to be her mom and she continues to be my inspiration.
Gay continues to be very active and dedicated to Community Service. She has devoted her time as a member, volunteer and supporter of the following organizations: Member of the illustrious Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the Zeta Nu Omega Chapter, the Riverside Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. and The Westchester County African American Advisory Board Leadership Resource Group. Former appointed position and membership include the following organizations: Executive Board Member of The Westchester Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., and former volunteer of The New Rochelle Mascaro Boys and Girls Club, supporter of The New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence, member of The New Rochelle Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and member of the National Council of Negro Women. Inga Joseph Watkins founder of Modelquette and Author of Faux Pas to Fabulous invited Gay to speak to the students of the Strive Leadership Academy of New Rochelle.
Moreover, Gay and her business partner, Kecia Palmer-Cousins, were featured in 914 Inc. Magazine, the Today Show and News 12 Cable News Network. Gay and her daughter were featured on the cover of the May, 2001 issue of the renowned financial business magazine, BLACK ENTERPRISE, where she offered healthcare stock selections that would produce solid returns to secure her daughter’s financial future.
She is a contributing author of the New York Times bestseller book, Keeping the Faith, stories of Black Love by Tavis Smiley.
Kecia Palmer-Cousins, MBA, is the Chief Operating Office (COO) of G&K Sweet Foods. She is a partner of G&K Sweet Foods, LLC, a New York LLC and NYC & NYS Certified M/WBE (Minority Women’s Enterprise) food company, specializing in the commercial manufacturing of fully baked, frozen small and large sweet potato pies for the wholesale and retail markets.
Kecia has over 22 years of customer service, project management and telecommunications experience working as an ITIL®v3 Senior Project Manager at a Fortune 100 company in NYC with premier and Wall Street customers. She earned a B.S.in Manufacturing Engineering (Boston University), an MBA in Marketing (Long Island University) and a Masters Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University.
Her business certifications include a Certificate of Accomplishment for successfully completing the Michele Foods Recipe to Retail Workshop and a Certificate from the Women’s Enterprise Development Center’s (WEDC) 15 Week Entrepreneurial Training Program.
Kecia inherited her entrepreneurial spirit from her mother, father, uncles and cousins who have owned a variety of small, family owned businesses, from fish markets/restaurants, daycare centers and moving/ construction businesses. Kecia is married to her best friend and husband Kevin Cousins. She is also the daughter-in-law of the Honorable NYS Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
Kecia and Kevin are the proud parents of two loving, beautiful, amazing young sons, Kendall and Kyle. They also co-own Aerobasoul, Inc., a fitness company catering to full-figured women. Kecia & Aerobasoul, Inc. were featured in the inspirational book “Soul Beginnings, 8 Strategies for Overcoming Life’s Challenges, authored by Shellie Anderson-Tazi.
Kecia is a Harlem Book Fair Advisory Board member, appeared as memoir panel moderator on CSPAN BookTV and is a member of Go on Girl Bookclub!, the world’s largest, women’s African-American book club. She is a proud member of Unity Baptist Tabernacle church in Mt. Vernon, NY and has conducted wellness workshops at women retreats.
She has mentored many teen-agers and young ladies through her past role as a Girl Scouts of America Community Director and her “Young Ladies” mentoring seminars. Her current memberships include the Mid-Hudson Valley Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., The Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce and the Professional Women of Westchester.
Kecia was awarded a “10 Most Influential Blacks” Award in 2011 by the African American Chamber of Commerce of Westchester & Rockland Counties, Inc., of which she is also a member.
She was a 2011 “Women Working It” panelist at the Annual Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus weekend, WEDC’s Small Business & Economic Development Forum and WEDC’s 13th Annual Networking Roundtable featuring Lisa Price, owner and CEO of Carol’s Daughter. Kecia also attended Tory Johnson’s NY Spark & Hustle Intensive Conference.
Kecia recently joined the Mary J. Blige Center for Women Center’s Advisory Committee in Yonkers, NY. She is a former Mt. Vernon resident and currently resides in Peekskill, NY.