Word-of-mouth cemented the reputation of this legendary sweet shop in Kent, recalls Harpreet Dha, MBA '06 and daughter of the founders.

Punjab Sweets was one of five independent South Asian sweet shops featured in the New York times in 2022 for the excellence of their offerings. The shop attracted customers beyond Washington state and was run by three generations of the Dha family.

What problem/market need were you addressing when the business started?

Indian sweets are a staple in our culture and all over India. Many Indians are also vegetarian and we wanted to offer food that was prepared in a facility with no meat or eggs. There was no place that offered fresh Indian vegetarian food, sweets, and snacks in the Northwest—only one other place in the area besides having to travel to BC (Canada) for a larger selection. We knew we could do it better.

What has been the biggest challenge and the biggest reward?

Challenges included starting a business completely from scratch and having no prior business experience. My parents began a partnership with my mom’s brother and his family and eventually we bought them out a few years later.

There were a lot of learning curves such as sourcing items, finding reliable vendors and wholesale products that were consistent in their quality. We had to initially order items from Canada and the shipping costs were very high. We eventually replaced those items with locally sourced products.

The rewards were numerous but the greatest reward was gaining so much respect and recognition from the local community and the entire King County region for being known as a top restaurant and bakery. We had loyal clientele that traveled consistently from other areas of the Pacific Northwest, and gained many word-of-mouth referrals from our customers based on the quality of our food and service.

We’ve been featured in numerous publications including the Seattle Times, Sunset Magazine, Seattle Metropolitan, Kent Reporter, Seattle Weekly, various local museums, and many features in online publications.

It's been an experience of a lifetime and we will forever cherish the last 22 years and our amazing customers. We wouldn't have achieved all our unparalleled success without them.

Harpreet Dha MBA '06

What, if anything, did you learn at Albers that helped you in running the business?

I learned a lot of valuable aspects of running a business, but I think the greatest advice and skill was to follow my intuition. The challenge was not to follow others but to be a leader and do what felt right instead of what was safe. Doing so is necessary to be successful.

After Punjab Sweets, what is next for you?Harpreet and Gurmit Dha

I have always been interested in the mind/body connection and was certified as an Ayurvedic practitioner and NLP master practitioner as a mindset coach in 2016. I recently started a private practice to help people live more authentically and achieve greater wellbeing through holistic ways.

I joined Roundglass Foundation, which is a nonprofit in Bellevue that merges my other passions—helping the state of Punjab attain wellbeing in many of the underserved communities and help them achieve their full potential and greater economic status.

For now we are no longer running Punjab Sweets. It’s been an experience of a lifetime and we will forever cherish the last 22 years and our amazing customers. We wouldn’t have achieved all of our unparalleled success without them.

Two-sentence advice for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Follow your heart and never let the judgement of those around you detract or sway you from pursuing your passion. Only you know what gives you purpose and sense of fulfillment.