Sunday, April 21, 2024

Sasha kneads her way to success


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Sasha Williams has found that being involved in running not one, but two businesses is not all fun and games – even if one involves baking and family. The 24-year-old is co-owner of a bakery with mum Sandra and has a real estate company, following in the footsteps of dad, Derek.
A past student of St Winifred’s School, a privately run institution, Sasha has an associate degree in tourism and travel from the Barbados Community College’s Hospitality Institute and a certificate in accounting from the Barbados Institute of Management & Productivity.
With those qualifications, she went to work in the family owned company, Homex Constructions Ltd., which her father established in April, 1973.
“My mum is from Trinidad, and was always preparing these exotic foods. [The idea of] a catering company was tossed around by friends and family to her and I thought, ‘good idea . . .’ but I was hesitant at the time because I didn’t want to get tired of having to make certain items over and over and then find myself not being too fond of the item anymore,” she explained.
Sasha decided that after working with her dad, she wanted to expand her horizons. So, Ideal Real Estate was born. With the company off the ground, Sasha decided to tackle her mum about a joint venture in a small catering business – mum would handle the savoury and she would handle the sweet.
Enter San’s Sweet and Savory Catering, with orders coming through family and friends. Sasha’s baking journey was mostly by trial and error, helping out in her younger days with the baking for family dinners – learning how to make cakes or pastries while indulging her “sweet tooth”.
“I learnt a few tricks at PomMarine [home of the BBC’s Hospitality Institute], but I have to say I learnt by trial and error through my mum and it’s in our family, genes and culture, really! I grew up being a foodie as throughout primary and secondary school, my brother Jonathan and I were pretty spoilt.
“Mum used to bring lunch for us every day, religiously, from rotis to lasagna, you name it,” she said, laughing.?She added that the children would wait anxiously to see what the lunch would be on any given day.
Sasha said her mum was very humble and preferred the background, so she spoke about the pastry business to EASY Magazine.
“We can cater to any occasion. We are very proud perfectionists and everything we make has to taste glorious; appearance must be exceptional and flawless. My mum and I work pretty well together and we will give advice to each other on how to do certain things . . . toss around ideas, as it’s a joint venture, so every opinion matters.”
A weakness of hers? Chocolate.
“As long as that ingredient is present, surely I am a happy baker,” she said. “Chocolate just makes everything so much better in my very biased opinion.”
Sasha likes to explore the Internet for recipes and she sources various books locally and internationally.
“I would also tweak recipes to suit. My specialty cake is Red Velvet. It is very moist, chocolatey and light with a rich, creamy cream cheese frosting to complement it.”
She spoke of how she and a cousin Lana had some sweet bread and rock cakes mishaps but they persevered and at the end, disaster was averted.
Sasha is now cooking up a different type of business ­– real estate, specializing in the rental and sale of residential and commercial properties which she called a “wonderful journey,” but it’s not been all cookies and cream.
“The catering business is fairly consistent with the repeat customers placing their usual orders weekly. But the real estate market at the moment [is] like any other businesses throughout the island, meaning [it] has its days.
“Establishing a business, I learnt to exercise a lot of patience, to always have a positive attitude and mentality with hard work and dedication which brings success and knowledge.”
Sasha said her life hasn’t changed drastically.
“I just have a lot more responsibilities . . . . I am more independent. Most of my personal time has been cut back, but not completely, as I still make sure to enjoy life as much as possible.”
A typical day for her includes taking calls and checking emails. Working closely with several other real estate agents to ensure the clients were satisfied.  
“Some days can be quite busy and other days can be slow. The catering doesn’t generally clash with my real estate appointments because I usually receive advance notice for the delivery date. So it’s very easy to work around, plus having my mum involved helps the production level move along timely and efficiently,” she said.  
Working in a family business definitely has advantages but it does not necessarily mean it is all fun and games,?Sasha pointed out.
“I have a solid relationship with my parents and the trust and responsibility they place with me are very important. Working in the family business is a privilege . . . . It means you play an important part in continuing your family’s legacy.
“Experiencing more things with my parents on a business level, like facing the challenges while running the business, I find the bond becomes stronger. I found that I got to know things about both my parents that I otherwise wouldn’t.”
Sasha is all about female empowerment and tells dreamers that “Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time and dedication . . . but once you have an ambitious attitude and a proper plan, come great knowledge and success!”
And one last pastry question. What do you think makes the pie? The crust or filling?
“I would have to say the crust. Sometimes, you can take a bite of a pie and the crust can disappoint you. With the filling, it is quite hard to go wrong there, but crust is key – the perfect balance that complements that sweet filling.”
And Sasha has found that perfect balance with her two business loves.


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