Meet Kate from Edge of Sweetness!

Kate Merrill, Loyola alumna and Rogers Park native, owns and operates Edge of Sweetness Bakery in the Edgewater neighborhood.

Merrill and her business partner, Paige Tyler, opened the bakery and retail store in 2017. “I chose sweetness as my second career,” said Merrill, who took over full ownership of the bakery in 2018 after her 22-year career as a nurse.

In addition to being locally owned, Edge of Sweetness is a community-centric establishment. The bakery serves as a neighborhood space where groups can conduct weekly meetings.

On Tuesday mornings, Laura, an Edge of Sweetness employee, hosts a storytime for children.

“We like to make connections with our customers,” said Merrill.

Merrill attributes her desire to build personal connections with customers to her career in nursing.

“When I was a nurse, I worked with people with lots of different personalities. There were a lot of things I learned that have formed this business. A lot of people that come [to Edge of Sweetness] might not have another place to go, they might not have friends. I want [to create a] welcoming environment for everyone.”

Edge of Sweetness offers more than pastries and baked goods to the community. Its unique business model helps other small businesses grow as well. The Edge of Sweetness kitchen also serves as a shared kitchen space, which is a space that small businesses can rent out to produce their product, without the need for a retail store front. The Edge of Sweetness kitchen is one of few shared kitchens in the area that offer monthly-rental services.

“When I opened the Edge of Sweetness, I did so with the dream of a retail space and a shared kitchen to offer the same opportunity I had had to other businesses,” Merrill writes on the Edge of Sweetness website. “I know first-hand how hard it is to grow a business on a tight budget and constrained space. That's why it's important to me to help others have time to develop their products and grow their businesses in an affordable and welcoming environment.”

Currently, six small businesses rent out space in Edge of Sweetness’ 1,00 square foot kitchen. Some of the products produced in the kitchen, including cold brew coffee, are even sold in the Edge of Sweetness retail space.

“You can just see, when you talk to other people and bounce ideas off each other that everybody can grow together,” Merrill said.

Merrill, a supporter of local businesses, believes that large corporations and institutions have the capability to help small businesses flourish as a result of their support.

“It’s a chain reaction,” she said. “If a university hires a small business for catering, then that business hires more local employees, buys more local ingredients, and so on. What institutions could do for small businesses that could help propel them forward, is huge.”

“If you go local, it’s personal,” she said. “It’s personal to the local businesses and it’s personal to the community. It even builds the community, which is the anchor for corporations and universities. And in the end, it benefits both small businesses and institutions like Loyola.”

Edge of Sweetness can be found at 6034 N. Broadway in Chicago.