Fitness model and pastry chef Jenn Hardin of Cinsational Sweet Treats and her son, Cole
Growing up in a small town of North Carolina with two brothers, Jenn Hardin got her fill of rough sports and sibling rivalry. But there was always one place she could find sweet solace: her grandmother’s kitchen.
“I was hooked from the moment that she glanced over her shoulder and winked at me with this ‘you are the chosen one so watch what I do’ gesture and she was my culinary idol!” says Hardin. “She was always making something homemade and never measured anything, ever.”
While sweets were always considered to be a treat in Hardin’s family, their love for quality food was a huge part of their daily lives. She grew up with more than 15 acres of farmland in her backyard where they grew corn, strawberries, potatoes, beans and just about anything else you can think of. “I have a profound respect for farm to table freshness and would love nothing more to have my own garden again,” says Hardin.
The importance of health in her family also translated to physical fitness. They grew up with an active childhood through multiple sports and having a mom who made exercising a high priority. As Hardin’s brothers got older, they began to get into weight training and Hardin followed suite. While doing this, she was scouted at the gym where they worked out to be a promotional model.
As a form of income during college, where Hardin was earning a Bachelors Degree in business and marketing, she began to do print modeling until after graduation when she co-owned an IT headhunting firm. “I did see a lot of success at a young age but I was still dreaming about culinary school and having a bakeshop of my own,” says Hardin. “Still in my mind I was building that bakery that would get me out from behind a desk.”
A few years went by and Hardin’s husband got relocated to Cincinnati. To keep her connected to the life she loved, while remaining an IT recruiter in a new city, she glued herself to The Food Network and perfected her recipes.
During this time, Hardin had her son, Cole, and was less than impressed about her weight gain and muscle loss. She started to analyze what she ate, while at the same time working out with a trainer. Her body changed drastically and other moms at the gym took notice and recommended she compete in bikini competitions. She did, and later signed with Wings Model Management.
While her body took transformation, so did her career. As Hardin was looking to get back into her old field, she had a very influential conversation about New Year’s resolutions with someone and it was then that she realized she never really let herself realize her true goal in life. “I sat there with this blank stare for what felt like an eternity all the while in my head I was screaming ‘I want to become a professional pastry chef and have my own bake shop!,'” recalls Hardin, “but I couldn’t own up to the fact that it could become a reality.”
Soon after, when she started back at her new job, she found her herself drawn more and more to her kitchen as an escape from the job she knew she didn’t really want. “I started baking like the world was coming to an end and chocolate cake would save it,” says Hardin.
As she baked more and more, she gave her sweets away to neighbors, friends, and events. Being a model, (literally, and metaphorically of health), she knew she could taste her creations, but not indulge! Little did Hardin know at the time, she was creating a backing of people that wanted more of her gourmet, organic cupcakes, which in turn greatly raised her confidence in her product.
In 2011, Hardin went to an event put on by the Junior League of Cincinnati that was titled Cinsation. “I was still building this pastry empire in my head I was still toying with names and something drew me back to CinSation,” says Hardin.
A few months later in October of 2011, she decided on Cinsational Sweet Treats as her official name, and turned her occasional dessert drop off to Dhani’s Café in Mt. Adams into her first official account. Later she signed on with Nordtsrom’s eBar after multiple presentations and baked good tastings.
Hardin has since grown the event side of her business to provide sweet treats to weddings, showers, birthdays and fundraisers with the ultimate goal of having a storefront in Spring 2013.
“I do get many bizarre or surprised reactions when people find out that I bake for a living, have a four year old, stay in shape and model,” says Hardin. “But I find that people are pleasantly surprised and are more intrigued to hear my story and they get to know why I am different and how much I love what I am doing.”