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Freshman brings creative treats to ASU with Mack's Berry Shack

The small business specializes in chocolate covered strawberry bundles decorated with unique designs customized for each client


Gwendalin Kinsey holding a box of their homemade chocolate covered strawberries on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, at the Adelphi II Commons in Tempe. 

To make money during their time in college, freshman Gwendalin Kinsey opened Mack's Berry Shack. Marketed from an Instagram account and operated from a community kitchen at the Adelphi Commons dorm on the Tempe campus, the business specializes in chocolate covered strawberries with intricate and colorful designs at low prices.

In their petite workspace, Kinsey, who studies architecture, creates both standard combinations of chocolate-dipped strawberries and creative and artistic edible designs that may be customized by clients.

"It's easy to sell, it's easy to market," Kinsey said. "Especially in a college demographic ... everybody likes chocolate covered strawberries so it's not exactly something that I have to push very hard to sell."

Laurel Harvey, a freshman in museum studies, bought a custom set from Kinsey for her three-month anniversary with her partner in September.

Harvey said Kinsey put "so much detail into the set," as they do with all of their sets. "I also think it helps make our little dorm cluster more connected and social when there's students promoting their businesses and offering services to other students."

Sebastian Urrea, a freshman studying business communications, also bought a set of Kinsey's strawberries for his birthday on Sept. 8.

"The experience was really smooth, (they) noted down everything that I mentioned and that I wanted to incorporate," Urrea said. "The result was really cool, I didn't expect it to be that cool." 

Kinsey is interested in continuing the business throughout their time at ASU and is "trying to build a portfolio and get better at these things ... at least in the artistic sense." Kinsey believes their independent business is a way to develop their business skills.

The artistic nature of the business is something that Kinsey takes pride in, despite how expensive and time-consuming it is. However, though they want to maintain the artistry of their products, it is difficult at times to charge enough to cover the materials and value of their designs.

"I try to charge as low as possible, and for that I am really breaking even for the most part," Kinsey said.

For now, Kinsey's customers consist mostly of college students, and Kinsey keeps that in mind when setting prices for their products to keep them at an affordable cost for their college-aged customers.

"Selling to a college demographic can be hard in terms of pricing," Kinsey said. "To profit from my work I have to charge at least $30 from a custom dozen ... which is difficult to sell to college students because of our own expenses and lives."

The business of selling uniquely designed berries isn't one unique to Kinsey, yet they still put a unique twist on their work that separates it from that of others. Kinsey keeps a close eye on the work of others in order to support other small businesses while finding new ideas to implement into their own work. 

"I, of course, like to support anybody that I can ... but it also helps to come up with ideas for my own content by seeing what is popular and what is not," Kinsey said. "There's not too much competition to worry about."

Kinsey said they only plan on running Mack's Berry Shack through their senior year. After graduation, they plan on pursing a career based on their college studies.

The current prices for Kinsey's products vary per customer. A small cup of four dipped strawberries will cost $5, and a dozen chocolate dipped strawberries will cost $18. For a custom set, prices vary, but a base dozen strawberries starts at $20.

To order custom berries from Kinsey, reach them through their business Instagram account @macks_shack_ or through their personal Instagram account @gwendalinkinsey.

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