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—Cheat Treats offers Guyanese a range of delectable options
By Lisa Hamilton
Treats! Everyone loves them but not everyone can bake them to perfection catering not only to those with a sweet tooth but those who’d like healthy options. 23-year-old Shonetta Lowe had this mind when she launched her business Cheat Treats which not only satisfies the needs of her customers but the needs of the environment.
In an interview with the Village Voice News, Lowe said that she started the business in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. While many other small businesses sprung up during the period because of the pandemic, Lowe had plans to launch out with or without the global crisis due to her passion for baking.
“I come from a long family of caterers…but one day there was a course being offered to young women to learn to bake professionally and, because of my passion to turn it into something successful and something that I could gain an income from, I took the course and that was one of the best decisions of my life,” Lowe said.
While some attended for mere experience or enjoyment, when the course was over, Lowe went straight into business. Lowe is also a final year Environmental Science student at the University of Guyana; a volunteer at the International Decade of People of African Descent (IDPADA-G); East Coast District Commissioner of the Guyana Girl Guides Association; Assistant Adventist Youth leader at the Ebenezer SDA; former Vice President of the Eco Trust society and former secretary of the Youth Advocacy Movement. She launched the business in her third year of university while active in some of the former positions. From then to now, she has had to juggle her responsibilities.
MORE THAN TRADITION
Initially, she began baking from home but, after demand quickly increased, she branched out to baking at other locations. Scores of persons seek out Cheat Treats for their variety of cheesecakes from blueberry to caramel to mango and more, and for their cupcakes flavoured in oreo, red velvet and coconut cream to name a few.
There is also a range of bread such as banana bread, carrot bread, pumpkin bread, apple and cinnamon bread, oatmeal and raisins bread, lemon cream cheese bread and more. However, what some do not know is that Cheat Treats also offers healthier options. Lowe said that when the pandemic came about some persons became even more health-conscious as the virus was negatively affecting primarily those who were the least healthy. “The first line I created was an entire line of cakes and bread that were gluten-free. I was using only healthy fats, I used substitutes for flour like almond flour and coconut flour. I have a whole line of customers that require specifically that. That is hard to find in Guyana when it comes to having desserts and also having them affordable,” she explained.
The healthy line of treats and the regular line have both gained much public demand, so much so that Lowe has near-future plans to expand her baking location on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD). Added to this, because of her appreciation for the environment and her area of study, the 23-year-old has also incorporated healthy business practices that will benefit the environment currently and in the long run. “I’ve also incorporated the environmental aspect into my business. Most of my packaging is environmentally friendly. In other cases where persons might be using plastics I ensure that we don’t have that heavy footprint and that we use reusable items or cardboard packaging that can actually degrade into the environment,” she said.
MAKING THE SACRIFICE
For Lowe, the weekends and holidays are very hectic. Sometimes she has more baking to do than the hours in a day allow for. However, as a start-up business, she makes the sacrifice consistently with her goal for continued success in mind. Speaking to the Mother’s Day period when many orders came in she said: “I could not say to my costumes ‘oh, I’m sorry, my feet hurts, I can’t get your order done’. I still stuck with it and though my feet pain up to now I was eventually able to get my rest. My mandate was to cater to my customers first so that I could relax on the day after. Of course every day wouldn’t be like that but when it’s required, I have to be on my A-Game.”
Her advice to young people and women involved in business is to remain goal-oriented and focused, even on days when the demand might be low. She said that that form of ‘stick-to-itiveness’ is necessary for successful business as well as the ability to satisfy the customer with quality work consistently and across the board.
Meanwhile, she also encourages other businesses in Guyana, small and large, to incorporate positive environmental practices in their operation. “It’s important that all businesses be conscious of the environmental footprint that they would have and in being conscious of that, take consideration of the packages used and what effect it can have on the environment,” she advised.
As her business grows, Lowe plans to expand to be able to fully cater to the needs of her community by December 2021. She also plans to give back to her community by involving young people through training and employment where possible. She said: “We want to be as community-oriented as possible and to give back to the community that gave us that foundation and opportunity to expand and have a presence.”