From homeless addict to entrepreneur through baking sweet treats

Some days, Janie Deegan spends 20 hours in the kitchen baking her famous pie crust cookies. 

"They are a disc of pie crust, a little bit of filling and streusel on top," said Janie Deegan, the owner of Janie Bakes. "You know when you swipe the filling in a pie to get a perfect bite, yeah that's what pie crust cookies are."

She doesn't mind the long hours. In fact, she is thankful for them because she credits baking with giving her a second chance. 

"In my early 20s, I was going through a hard time in life and was homeless due to addiction. I got myself out of that," Deegan said. "I found that even though I had nothing to contribute to places I would go I would bring baked goods. It was such a people-pleasing thing and artistic outlet for me. 

For two years she grew her business out of her own kitchen. Then she found Hot Bread Kitchen's culinary incubator in Harlem. It allows Deegan's business to rise. She shares the kitchen with other entrepreneurs who bake and also learn how to run their businesses. 

"We're a commercial kitchen space and business support space for over 80 businesses that operate in the food sector," said Kobla Asamoah, the program's director. "Everything from consumer package products to meal delivery businesses."

"I really started on a journey of educating myself and putting one foot in front of the other and making this food business viable," Deegan said.

Which brings us to the year-round Grand Bazaar on the Upper West Side where more than a hundred vendors, including Deegan, come out every Sunday. Her pie crust cookies come in a package with a label that reads, "life-changing baked goods," which, as you can imagine, refers to more than just the taste.

"I hope to be a second-chance employer one day. I hope to keep that sense of giving back," Deegan said. "So many people gave back to me when I really needed it so I hope to be able to continue having that be the lifeblood of Janie Bakes."