Behind the Counter:  An interview with Jizwell Youssef, Chief Bunny Maker 

Truffles: So, what’s it like to be the Chief Bunny Maker at Sweet Designs?

Jizwell: It’s fun. I’m always busy making and decorating our chocolates. Right now, I really like having the chance to create designs, particularly the lovely swirls on German Chocolates. Of course, at this time of year with Easter just around the corner, it’s bunny season.

Truffles: How did you learn your craft?

Jizwell: Before leaving Syria to come to America, I had my own bakery - Chocolate One. Summer was the busiest time as most of our business came from weddings and events. This experience really helped me when I came to Sweet Designs and began working in the kitchen.

Truffles: Any message you’d like to pass on to Sweet Designs customers?

Jizwell: Thank you, thank you! I appreciate that you buy our products which means I have a job. Although I don’t work in the front of the store and get to see our customers each day, it makes me really happy that they enjoy our chocolate so much. Their support means I’ve been able to buy a small house and a car, a Nissan Rogue. In Syria, my father had a Nissan dealership before the war.

Truffles: Challenges in relocating to the U.S.?

Jizwell: Learning English and driving here were two immediate ones. I continue to work on my English each day and I’m much more comfortable driving these days. When we left Syria for Lebanon on the way to the U.S., we only had the clothes on our back so we truly were starting over.
We relocated from Lebanon to Winston-Salem in North Carolina and Catholic Charities was so helpful as we got settled in our new country. I moved to Cleveland in 2016 and have been at Sweet Designs for a couple years. I love working here.

Truffles: When you aren’t working at Sweet Designs, what keeps you busy?

Jizwell: I can’t sit still. Since I was a child, I’ve always enjoyed working. I have a side business making cookies that I continue to work on – Just Sweets by Jizwell Youssef. I’m also busy helping my mother and working on my house, including fixing up the basement.


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