Business

Pastries by Jan — From soaring the skies to baking sweet pies

BY HANIFFA PATTERSON
Business reporter
pattersonh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

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Janei l Rose has always been driven. One of 6 children, she determined very early that she was going to somehow make her mark and stand out in the crowd.

Now the owner of her own cake business, she may not have known that those hours spent watching her mother and grandmother cooking and baking cakes would literally become the recipe for her success.

“I grew up in a big family, four sisters and one brother. With so many siblings I always wanted to be the one to prove I can. I was so used to hearing I can't, it pushed me to be the person I am today. I loved spending time with my late grandmother because she would have me help her bake and do little things in the kitchen. I would always love to hold the hand-mixer and inhale that aroma of a freshly baked cake right from the oven.”

Now 41 years old, Jan has taken the memories and skills gained in her grandma's kitchen and built a business — Pastries by Jan — which she has been successfully running for the past 14 years.

Though now an experienced and talented baker, Rose first started her career in the skies as a flight attendant with Air Jamaica. Her job exposed her to a variety of cuisine and new foods from around the world.

“I joined Air Jamaica in 1997, which gave me an opportunity to travel the world and gave me this profound love for food and pastry.”

After having her daughter at age 27, Rose spent most of her free time baking and sharing it with friends and family. However, as her skills grew, she was constantly being pushed by friends to take things to the next level.

“Neighbours and friends would always encourage me to do this as a business because they were so impressed.” But Rose was hesitant because, to her, “…it was just a hobby, I had no training to be a professional baker or cook. Everything I made was just an experiment. It took months of research and a lot of errors were made to really come up with a good finished product.”

When she finally started the business, she decided to focus on renting chocolate fountains for events “…just to build my finances until the demand for cakes got greater, as my name wasn't out there yet”.

However, it all exploded after her daughter's birthday. “For my daughters first birthday, I decided to give it a try and do her birthday cake… It actually came out great! This motivated me even more,” she shared.

From this initial effort, the orders started coming in… “One cake order turned into two, then I started doing jobs for caterers.”

“Eventually I caught my first break with Cafe Blue. I did their cheesecakes, sweet potato and bread pudding, and their apple and guava cheese tarts,” she continued.

Outside of becoming a business, Janeil's cake baking also became cathartic; it was not just a way to share, but a way to heal… “It became an outlet to get out of the depression of being a single parent…”

 

EXPANSION

“As my trade grew I needed help, so I hired someone to help with the workload. I used to come in off of a flight at 3 am and head straight to my kitchen to fill the orders.” She also increased her skills. “I taught myself to master desserts [and] combine flavours that to others wouldn't possibly work.”

In addition, to reflect the growth, the business name was changed from “Cakes by Jan” to the more inclusive “Pastries by Jan”. “I started off with the name Cakes by Jan, but my business wasn't just based on cakes.”

Though it was a lot of work, Rose pressed on doing both her day job as a flight attendant and her baking when she wasn't at work. After Air Jamaica closed, she then moved over to Fly Jamaica as a purser for three years, but her business only suffered. She left Fly Jamaica in December 2015 to fully focus on her business.

Today, Pastries by Jan offers a variety of cakes for various occasions and has since expanded to include other menu items such as paninis, salads, pasta, lasagna, and sandwiches.

“…I have excellent cooking skills as well. I use to watch my mom in her kitchen as a child and actually fell in love with cooking too. I [also] used to experiment with food as a teenager, which I now use at my store. Everything is made from scratch and with lots of love,” Rose explained.

“My food is often classed as international cuisine, as I don't do the typical rice and peas and chicken. My menu includes curry roti wraps, lasagna, shrimp alfredo pasta, and baked mac and cheese with our famous BBQ wings. All our salads are freshly made...our sandwiches use freshly baked ham, freshly baked chicken breasts, and our panninis are grilled to perfection. I am currently working on setting up a juice and coffee bar inside my store, which is slated to be opened in February.”

 

IDEAL LOCATION?

Currently located on South Camp Road in Kingston, Janeil concedes that for some, it may not be the ideal location, but that financially it was a great choice. She also believes it is an area that has great potential for growth.

“A lot of my customers would love to see my store uptown and in other parishes, but right now, financially, it's not possible. My business has tremendous potential, especially since the downtown area will see a lot of growth in a couple of years,” she expounded.

“The downside of my business is that I don't have a proper system in place to reduce the wait time for food, though it has improved a lot,” Rose said, identifying a challenge that she faces in the new venture. “Also to have an efficient delivery system.”

Though these are real challenges, she is determined to see them improve.

In the years since her opening, Rose has catered for some well known Jamaicans and restaurants. Her clients have included the former Prime Minister P J Patterson and Noel Hylton, former president of the Port Authority and Toyota Jamaica Cafe and ICWI. Restaurants include M10 Bar and Grill, East Japanese, Dessert Bar and Di Grill Shack to name a few.

Her business has now grown to include more staff, but Rose admits to still having a hand in almost all parts of her business, including the baking, as the kitchen is simply her love.

“I micro manage as well; I am very hands-on in my business. I currently have six staff members, but I still do a lot of the baking because I just have to be in the kitchen.”

For the future, Rose's dream for Pastries by Jan is “to grow it to the point where I can have franchises all over, both locally and internationally.

“I would really love to explore a partnership with interested investors as my products can go even international...plantain tarts..sweet potato pudding etc,” she shared.

Rose's business has grown from strength to strength despite challenges. But one thing that has remained constant is her determination and passion to move forward and achieve her dreams despite what it might demand from her. She is always ready to seize an available opportunity and make it work.

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