Darcy Grainger has it all. She’s a mother, a wife, and a full-time teacher at Nassau BOCES. She’s also the mastermind (and master baker) behind Darcy’s Delights, a homemade bread company based in Glenn Wayne Bakery in Bohemia. A homemade bread company you can find in countless local stores — as well as 80 (and counting) Costcos.
Darcy’s breads — truly worthy of their delights-containing moniker — are remarkable. They’re all-natural and delicious; they contain neither high-fructose corn syrup nor preservatives.
As remarkable as the breads themselves, however, is the story behind them.
“I lost three people — my mother and two siblings — in three years,” says Grainger. “I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t going to take medicine. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I wasn’t going to take medicine.” One thing Grainger did know? How to bake.
“I had a lot of family recipes. I used to give my pumpkin breads as thank-you gifts to neighbors, family, and friends,” says Grainger. “It was just a hobby though — until the loss.”
The loss is a common phrase in Grainger’s vocabulary, and she speaks it straightforwardly, in a tone that forbids pity. Still, it’s obvious that the loss ushered in a turning point for Darcy, and the birth of her Delights.
“I buried myself in this business to heal,” she says. “It’s honestly as simple as that.”
She started selling her cakes out of Cornucopia in Sayville. She sold 150 of them in two days.
That was in August 2011. Four months later, she was in 30 stores. One year later, in 200. Two years later, in over 300.
“I’ve grown Darcy’s Delights from the bottom up,” says Grainger. “I would go to King Kullen and do samples. I’d go to Lombardi’s Market in Holbrook, Southdown in Huntington. I went to Zabar’s.”
And then she worked her way into Costco.
“I wrote a proposal and they invited me in,” says Grainger. “I had a two-hour interview. Now I’m [seasonally] in all 80 stores in the North East.”
For most people, this would be the fairy tale’s ending. A local female entrepreneur and her delicious, all natural cakes journey from farmers markets to Costco and live happily ever after.
Except, Darcy Grainger isn’t most people, and this is only her story’s beginning.
“I’ve always empowered youth with disabilities,” says Grainger. “I’ve been a full-time special education teacher for twenty-five years. My ultimate goal is to write a NYS Educational Grant that would federally fund a workplace that would provide students with disabilities the opportunity to strive for independence and a sense of belonging while baking, packaging and labeling. I’ve seen what opportunities like that can give people. Three of my students from the 1990s moved onto competitive employment. They graduated and two of them took county exams and now they work for maintenance at Hofstra. The other young man went on for his B.A. in Business. It’s just incredible when a teacher can model and instill a positive work ethic.”
What’s incredible also is Grainger’s passion and propensity to hustle. In addition to all of the work she does for Darcy’s Delights, she still works full time as a special education teacher.
“My adrenaline just goes and goes,” she says. “The work is so exciting. Sometimes I’ll be up working and it’s two o’clock in the morning. I have to wake up at six. I have to go and teach.”
It is almost impossible to imagine how she does it: How she is a full-time teacher and the wonder woman behind Darcy’s Delights, a mother and a wife.
“The boys — my husband and three sons — help with everything,” she says. “They cook, clean and do laundry.”
Still, I wonder how she does it. How she managed to take a debilitating personal loss and transform it into the most triumphant — and delicious — story. How she manages still to grow her business while simultaneously fostering the growth of her family and students.
“I just do it,” says Grainger, smiling. “I just love it.”
Darcy’s Delights homemade breads are available for order online (and make beautiful and tasty gifts for families and friends). You can order them here. Darcy’s Delights are also available at the following brick-and-mortar locations: Cornucopia in Sayville, Iavarone Bros in Wantagh, Lombardi’s Gourmet Market in Holbrook, Love Lane Market in Mattituck, Southdown Market in Huntington, Christine Epicure’s Market in East Norwich, Kitchen Kabaret in Roslyn Heights, Zabar’s & Garden of Eden in Manhattan, Food Cellar & Company in Long Island City, Key Foods in Long Beach, 7th Avenue Gourmet in Brooklyn, Salpino’s in Massapequa, Wild by Nature in East Setauket, Oceanside, Huntington, & Hampton Bays, Garden of Eve in Riverhead, Lewins Farms in Wading River, Bayview Farms in Jamesport, W K Farms in Manorville, Bella Vita Bed & Breakfast in Cutchogue, Duck Walk Winery in Water Mill, Hampton Market in East Hampton, Cromer’s Market in Noyac, and Seaqua Deli in Massapequa, Idle Hour Deli in Oakdale, Locust Avenue Deli in Bohemia, and bigger chains like King Kullen & Best Yet Markets.