Going into business for yourself is always a good idea but also very challenging. This did not stop Nenia Samayoa, however, who understood the risk and rewards of having your own business. After cooking and baking since 2016 she applied for a business license in March for Nae’s Cakes & Catering; which offers custom cakes, dinner plates, and amazing cheesecake desserts.
Although Nenia had to deal with living in over 13 different foster and group homes since the age of 11, she was determined to not let the negative projections of others determine the outcome of her life. In 2011 she graduated from Washington Prep High school in Los Angeles.
“A lot of people were saying that I was going to turn out like my mother. That I wasn’t going to graduate high school and that I was going to be on drugs and on the streets.”
Nenia realized that she was a great cook after being emancipated from the foster care system and going into transitional housing. Transitional housing aims to offer those who were in foster care a stepping stone after they graduate high school.
“It wasn’t like my grandmother taught me how to cook, or there were recipes passed down. I just picked it up.”
She still found herself trying to navigate the ups and downs of everyday life and the stress that comes with not having a supportive family or a network. She began stripping at 18 to supplement her income. She expressed that the money she saw from dancing was drastically different from working a 9-5.
After realizing she could make a living selling baked goods with the help of social media, Nenia decided to shift her focus and energy into a business plan and sell specialized desserts and dinner plates.
“Two years ago I started baking. I was dancing and baking at the same time and I would dance on the weekends, or bake on weekends.”
As the sole provider for her four-year-old daughter, she understands that soon her daughter will be old enough to inquire and understand what her mother does for a living. This is what fuels her decision to focus on establishing a catering business.
One of the most challenging aspects for Nenia, has been this generation of social media. It provides great marketing for entrepreneurs but also opens the stage for oftentimes unnecessary criticism from random people on the internet.
“It is a blessing and a downfall. It is one of our only platforms. The different things that come with it, the negativity, is the most difficult part.”
There is also juggling the many moving pieces that are involved in running a successful business. Such as getting up early, gathering inventory and making sure customers are good. Within such high demand, she finds many positives such as teaching her daughter how to cook as well as customer service skills. Nenia is also excited about opportunities to expand her business. The fact that she is able to nurture her daughter in a positive environment, has been the most rewarding for her.
“I wasn’t taught how to be a mom. No one mothered me. This is what I love to do. I went through a severe depression last year and I haven’t felt one bit of it while cooking.”
She uses social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to share her menu around noon daily as well as her contact information. On Fridays she begins selling dinner plates for the weekend. Nenia also does deliveries, is available for parties and has catered at events such as the Black Business Expo and P.U.S.H Experience L.A.
“I specialize in cheesecake so all throughout the week I’m selling cheesecake desserts. I do a lot of custom cakes and cake pops, rice crispy treats and cupcakes. I have a travel cart and can do pretty much anything on the grill and serve your party. “
Follow her on Instagram to catch her daily: @NaeCakesandCatering and @NaeCakesss