Walk into SweetArt, the vegan-vegetarian bakeshop/café in St. Louis’ Shaw neighborhood, and you’ll immediately understand the concept of #LoveAndMagic. Far more than just a hashtag, #LoveAndMagic conveys the SweetArt lifestyle, embodied by owner Reine Bayoc. Reine creates every gorgeous sweet and savory treat with love, and the result: well, it’s magic.
Since its opening in 2008, SweetArt has cultivated a loyal crowd of patrons who adore the celebration-worthy cupcakes, the beyond-belief-delicious vegan burger and nachos, and – most of all – the spirit of community and kindness that Reine creates.
We asked Reine five questions about her work, life and art. Here’s what she told us:
Who gave you the best advice you ever received? My mother: "Get your education and make your own money, because it gives you freedom." I feel as though she never wanted me to be "stuck" in an unfavorable life situation. She wanted me to have options – and she wanted those options to be self-directed. Best. Advice. Ever.
What did you do with your first paycheck? Well, my very first paycheck in life (I was around 15 years old), I bought a large fry from a "fancy" French fry place (I still have an obscene love affair with French fries!), and I bought some groceries for my family. My mother worked so hard, and we never had very much money. My first official check from SweetArt (which didn't come for YEARS!) – I invested 50% into a 401K and put the other half in my bank account.
What are you working on? Too much :) I have a blog that features life stories and plant-based recipes. I love blogging, which led me to work on a cookbook. The shop was renovated in July 2016, so I am enjoying a larger kitchen and introducing classes, which is fun. I am always looking to switch up the menu. I love creating new cookie and bar flavors. Right now, we have an Audre Lorde Bowl (which is like a Buddha Bowl) and it changes weekly, so that allows me to flex my creative muscle AND keep the other customer favorites like our vegan burger and nachos.
What drives your artistry? My passion for food. I live and breathe this. Even on vacation, I cannot stop thinking about food, reading cookbooks and recipes, wanting to try new restaurants – so I can take notes for when I am back in the kitchen. What I know for sure is that I was born to work with food. That internal fire for this drives my artistry. It never goes out – even when I'm exhausted, even when I question if people will get it and support this passion of mine – I keep creating, reading, developing food.
At Fauxgerty, we live by our value system. What's yours? My value system is based on my belief in "family first." What does that mean? In different moments, it may mean there will be no scones because I have to see my children's faces before bedtime. It may mean that that "girls night out" is a solo night in because I need to recharge myself (because I, too, am my family). This business cannot be my everything because, though it "feeds" me, it does not feed the deepest part of me. My family does that.
Read Reine’s blog, Love and Magic Kitchen, for stories and recipes.