If Danetra Richardson ’12 could bake for anyone in the world, she says she would bring her signature dark chocolate, Nutella, and salted caramel brownies to the celebrity chef cast of the Food Network show The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
“All of those chefs thoroughly enjoy the foods that they eat and take the time to savor every bite,” she says. “That’s my goal for my company — to create an experience for the taste buds.”
Richardson is the owner of Swank Desserts, the business she opened after graduating from the College of Charleston with a degree in hospitality and tourism management. Originally enrolled within the esteemed, culinary arts school Johnson & Wales in Charlotte, Richardson discovered Charleston and the College while completing an externship through Johnson & Wales at Magnolias restaurant on East Bay Street.
“I thought about finishing my degree in food and beverage management at Johnson & Wales, but thought I wanted something more well-rounded in case I wanted to leave the field,” says Richardson.
So she transferred, switched one Carolina for the other, and began planning her future. As part of her capstone course at CofC, Richardson wrote a business plan for a dessert lounge in Charleston. “That’s how Swank was born,” she explains. “The name stands for ‘sweets with a nightly kick.'”
After graduation, Richardson didn’t go directly into owning a business. She first went to work at the luxurious Kiawah Island Golf Resort. During a slow period over the holidays, Richardson says she posted a photo of one of her personal creations for a friend on Facebook and demand immediately took off. That was the lightbulb moment for her — she would start Swank as an online shop. Swank became a full-time job for Richardson in April 2015, and she has established a reputation across the Lowcountry for stunning wedding cakes, intriguing macaron flavors, delectable cupcakes, and those decadent, fudgy, Nutella caramel brownies.
The next step for Richardson is to move Swank to a brick-and-mortar location. Before that happens, you can follow her culinary adventures on Instagram, but be warned: you’ll want to order and taste everything you see.