A Sweet Spot for inspiring women


SweetSpot Co-Owner, Elena Gildemeister, helps her employees at the SweetSpot Bakehouse during a rush by gathering pastries for customers. February, 2022

Briahna LeFave, Business & Technology Editor

The Sweet Spot has served the Whitewater community by providing much needed caffeine and treats to curb any sweet tooth for nearly two decades. The Café is located in the historic Whitewater Hotel building. The Bakehouse would soon become integral, inclusive space for community members to gather over delicious coffee concoctions and unique culinary innovations. Whether for a business meeting, a study session or just a latté for the road, for many in the Whitewater community and beyond, The Sweet Spot’s two locations are a vital part of their daily routine thanks to business woman and Co-Owner Elena Gildemeister. 

“It is an incredible honor that our business is an integral part of the community. We get to share so many important moments with our customers- from first dates and hangouts with long lost friends, to surprise proposals and celebrations. Our bakery allows us to celebrate weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries with so many people,” says Gildemeister. “We strive to be an inclusive space where everyone feels welcome and I love being a gathering space for the community and UW-W students. It’s incredibly rewarding to be a small part in so many people’s lives.” 

It takes a lot of guts, know-how and heart to perpetuate such a meaningful business. Elena and her husband Jacob are largely to thank for The Sweet Spot’s continued successes in the last few years, since taking ownership in 2020. From then on, sales have surpassed pre-COVID numbers with both locations’ interiors having gotten a makeover, food and drink processes were reconfigured, and all bakery items began being made in-house. Elena is living proof that with the right knowledge and preparation, women can not only survive, but thrive in the business world. Sweet Spot barista Abby Dell explains her admiration for female business owners.

“I respect all female business owners because they are breaking the stigma of having a male dominated business industry. Many connect men with corporate businesses and the business industry, but seeing a women take the reigns of a business and achieve just as much success as a man, if not more, creates this overwhelming urge for young, hard working women to do the same, and to believe in themselves, even if their peers do not,” says Sweet Spot Barista, Dell.

In addition to keeping The Sweet Spot afloat during the pandemic, Elena has accomplished further contributions to her community. According to Forbes, there are about 30.5 million small business owners in America, and nearly two thirds of those businesses are owned by men. This disparity is caused by many factors related to the gender hierarchy, a few of which include disproportionate education opportunities, wage inequalities and societal pressures for women to stay at home, or obtain degrees and subsequent employment that allows them time enough for motherhood and household duties. Elena explains that being a female entrepreneur is not without its many challenges. 

“As a female business owner, it can be a struggle to find my seat at the table. People often assume that my husband is the sole owner of the business, or that our parents own it. We bought the (Whitewater) movie theater when we were 21, so most of the comments don’t bother me anymore. I’m very fortunate that my husband is such a big advocate for me to have an equal say in decisions, but the sad reality is that it would be much harder to gain respect if I owned the business by myself,” says Elena.

For these reasons and countless others, Elena’s entrepreneurship sets an example of possibility for women and girls and encourages them to not be stifled by statistics. Dell is just one of the many women who have found inspiration and motivation in female business owners like Elena.

“Working for Elena has inspired me to explore my passions. Being a marketing student at Whitewater, I am eager to learn and experience that kind of work environment. Elena was also a marketing major at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. I have seen how she has put what she’s learned into action and excelled in the business and marketing industry. At her age, she has gone above and beyond to promote The Sweet Spot and has done an incredible job of improving the business and implementing new initiatives that have resulted in an increase in success. To me, as a student working to earn a marketing and general business degree, Elena is more than a boss, she is a mentor and inspiration. And she may not know it but her actions and dedication to her small businesses, including The Sweet Spot, The Whitewater Movie Theater, and her teaching efforts, have motivated me to explore my curiosity of the business world and never be afraid to take risks,” says Dell.

Elena continues to exemplify the successes that can come from women following their aspirations no matter what people or statistics may say, and encourages women to not listen to any discouraging narratives about probable success. Elena explains that your persistence and hard work will show that women are as equally capable of fruitful entrepreneurship as anyone else.

“Specifically for women who want to start a business, don’t take it personally when people try to discredit your work,” says Elena. “People are afraid of successful women, but never make yourself smaller to make others comfortable. Do your thing and let your work speak for yourself!”