A Lake Waccamaw resident divides her time between Columbus County and Georgia, all in the name of entrepreneurship.
Deondra Jenkins is the owner and operator of a dessert company inspired by family recipes called Pudding Pleasantries. Although sales of her Southern pudding delights are booming online, she hopes her leap of faith will bring a brick-and-mortar building to her future.
Jenkins’ upbringing began modestly in a single-parent home and spanned between the Lake Waccamaw Triad, Farmers Union, and Hallsboro, but it was neither her mother nor her father who raised her. It was one of three aunts, Wanda Freeman-Gachett, who charted the course of her life at the tender age of six weeks. The godfathers, Jatha and Connie Freeman, were also a driving force.
As Jenkins grew older, she attended church and family gatherings, and she noticed that one dessert in particular always left the table first: Gachett’s banana pudding.
As Jenkins continued to grow, she invested her time in extracurricular activities at East Columbus High School. The 2009 graduate went to UNC Chapel Hill and earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and African American studies in 2013. She went on to earn a master’s degree at North Carolina Central University in academic and career counselling.
“Growing up in this triangle, especially Bingham Lane in Lake Waccamaw and Farmers Union, inspired me to be all that I could be in this world,” Jenkins said.
With college degrees and a job at a local high school under her belt, she thought her life was ready and running its course, but she soon discovered that God had other plans for her.
“I was on my way home from Durham on Labor Day weekend at the height of Covid in 2020, and the Lord kept whispering in my ear, ‘Get his pudding recipe at the banana “.”
Instead, Gachett did it better for him and actually taught Jenkins how to make dessert. She took a photo and posted it on social media without knowing the potential outcome.
He was welcomed with open arms and hungry eyes.
“I posted it on my personal Facebook page asking ‘Would anyone be interested in buying this or any pudding dessert? “, Jenkins explained. “Everyone automatically answered yes.”
She even had requests for the Southern classic, and many potential customers were willing to pay for the treat. So much so that Jenkins created a Facebook page, Linked-In, and even purchased a business license in North Carolina to fulfill orders. Soon other flavors like Oreo Cocoa Dream, So Fye Apple Pie and S’mores Delight joined the menu.
At the time, Jenkins was still working full time, but the pudding orders kept pouring in. Even when Jenkins moved to Georgia to be closer to another family member, it had no effect on sales. She just started making the trip to Columbus County once a month to place and deliver orders.
Last April, she finally decided to pursue her dream of owning a small business. She hopes to one day open her own shop and sell Pudding Pleasantries where she lives.
“I took a leap of faith and I am doing what the Lord has called me to do,” she said.
If you would like to order any of the delicious treats Jenkins has to offer, a full menu and prices can be found on the Pudding Pleasantries Facebook or Instagram pages. To place your order over the phone, call Deondra Jenkins at 910.625.5530.