In the NS Parlour Spotlight: Kay Habana of SweetHabana Catering

Full Name: Kay Habana

State of Residence: New York

Occupation: Catering Business Owner

NS: Briefly describe your role at SweetHabana.

A: I own SweetHabana. I’m the cook. I don’t really call myself “chef” as I didn’t go to Culinary School. I’m in charge of everything — from grocery shopping, to cutting, to the end product, and the books.

NS: How long have you been in this role?

A: I started this business 11 years ago in California. I initiated by preparing lunch boxes for my clients. I delivered to nearby hospitals and health facilities. Most of my clients were nurses. Back then I would sell each box for only $5; it had 1 staple, 2 side dishes, 1 dessert, and a drink. I made 50-100 boxes per day.

NS: Describe SweetHabana products and offerings?

A: I am Filipino, but my clientele consist of different nationalities, therefore I cook dishes of different cuisines. It really depends on what a client wants. Although I really love cooking heavy dishes, I also enjoy making desserts. Especially cakes. I used to make custom cakes, but I don’t have the time anymore. And, now that the weather is getting warmer, I’m experimenting on new flavors for my SweetHabana ice cream line. I cannot possibly describe the excitement when I’m concocting new and different flavors…or modifying a classic recipe. There’s magic in taking something raw and making it into a product that is unexplored, unique, and simply delicious. So, it doesn’t matter whether I’m cooking lumpia, adobo, a roll of sushi, or baking muffins…I cook from the heart. Always.

NS: What inspired you to pursue this entrepreneurial path?

A: My son, Kael.

Truth is, I never really thought of myself as a business-minded person. Growing up, I was surrounded by family and relatives who did so well in their respective business(es). But, to say the least, money doesn’t always bring people together.

However, when I gave birth to my son, I fell in love with this little angel and it was so hard to be away from him even for a mintue. My educational background is in Journalism, but working an 8-to-5 job was not an option at the time. I didn’t have a problem with being employed, but I realized that it meant that I was not in control of my time. I detested the thought of missing my son’s milestones. So, catering…it had to be.

NS: Is there any advice that you can offer to those interested in a similar path in this industry?

A: Passion. Love. It might sound cliche, but it’s true. Catering is a very demanding kind of business/work — physically, emotionally, and mentally. You have to have a love for cooking. You have to be passionate about doing the strenuous work. It’s good and it helps if you’re a skilled cook from an expensive Culinary school, but I believe there has to be so much more than just skills. I mean, really, how does one figure when he/she has provided superb gastronomical experience to their consumer(s)? It’s easily seen in their facial expressions. It’s obvious in their smile. A fulfilled smile just doesn’t lie. You have to have a burning desire to see that child-like smile after a client has tasted your food. Oh! The sight of it still elates me. And, I get inspired more and more. All in all, cook with love and be realistic about your goals.

NS: What are your objectives this year with Sweet Habana?

A: Over the years, I relied on word-of-mouth marketing. But with the abundance of social media nowadays, I have extended my style of advertisement through different platforms. So, for now, I’m in the process of building my clientele within the tri-state area. It’s been very good, most definitely. On a more ambitious note, I’m trying to see how I can put a SweetHabana “best-seller” in grocery freezers. My fingers and toes are crossed.

NS: What’s your secret to success?

A: Candor and sincerity toward people. Not just my clients/consumers, but people in general. I don’t believe in the saying, “it’s just business.” For me, true success in any business means getting personal with your clients. Clients can’t be visible only at the time that they order something from you. You have to keep in touch, build a relationship, and show them that you truly care. What is gaining money when you can’t gain friends? What is having money when you don’t share it? How can you enjoy success when you see hungry mouths to feed? It doesn’t make sense.

NS: What does beauty mean to you?

A: Beauty is, in all honesty, something that comes from within. Peace of mind and a joyful heart influence so much what others see on the outside. No matter how I accessorize myself or how much makeup I have on, when I don’t have peace of mind or a joyful heart, I feel like the ugliest duckling. True story. Whatever is inside is always bound to come out. The more you mask it, the cakier it looks.

NS: What’s your favorite beauty routine?

A: Simple. Washing my face and putting on moisturizer.

NS: Do you have a beauty tip that you would like to share?

A: Hydrate. For so many years, I replaced the necessity to drink water with drinking 12 cups of coffee a day. Not good. Now, I know better.

NS: How can we stay connected with you?

A: My email address for my catering is sweethabanacatering@gmail.com or sedokg@gmail.com

Website: www.kayhabana.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sweethabanacatering

Blog: www.justcliqit.com (Kay Habana)

Special thanks to Kay for sharing!

In the NS Parlour Spotlight: Dana Williams of Sotheby’s Realty and The Funding Network

Our “In the Spotlight” series is back! We’ve met many friends and colleagues along our journey so far and it’s an amazing experience as we continue to grow together. Over the next several months, we’re featuring some of our NS Fans and fellow entrepreneurs who continue to pursue their passions and inspire others to live their dreams.

In this feature, get to know Dana and how she works with others in her role at Sotheby’s and at The Funding Network.

Full Name: Dana Williams

State of Residence: (and of mind) New York

Occupation: Sotheby’s real estate agent & director of The Funding Network (TFN) NY’s lively crowd funding for small non-profits.

NS: Briefly describe your role at Sotheby’s and The Funding Network (TFN).

Dana: Thank you for this opportunity Susan. I assist people with buying and selling in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I supplement my real estate income by directing TFN New York’s operations.

NS: How long have you worked in the real estate industry? And, with TFN?

Dana: I’ve been in real estate since 1998 and with TFN since July 2013.

NS: What led you to pursue a career in the real estate industry?

Dana: I had a business providing personal assistance. It included home management. After overseeing a client’s townhouse rental transaction involving a celebrity, the real estate firm who represented this particular celebrity offered me a position to start and direct a department screening and offering home services to their clients. I helped build the national corporate model and became well versed on staging homes for sale and vetting home services. It evolved into becoming an agent.

NS: Is there any advice that you can offer to those looking to pursue a career in real estate?

Dana: Consider yourself an entrepreneur and prepare as if you were starting a business. It requires solid relationships and navigating multiple nuances that take time to learn (every transaction is different). Have a year’s worth of income in the bank. The financial rewards (commission only income) take time as does the other big payoff — the satisfaction of helping a client(s) find their “home”.

NS: What is TFN? 

Dana: The Funding Network began 12 years ago in London and hosts live crowd funding events. The idea is to make positively affecting a life — accessible, fun and greater as a group. TFN vets and, with a committee of TFN volunteers, selects three grass root organizations implementing solutions to complex problems. Each organization has six minutes to present and six minutes to answer audience questions (think Shark Tank). Audience members can raise their hands and give $100 or more. Events last exactly two hours, corporate partners can host events (to save TFN costs) and wine/food is served. At our recent and fourth NYC event, Macquarie Bank hosted and matched their employees’ pledging. TFN events take place around the world in Australia, Canada, South Africa, Singapore, the U.K., Turkey, Romania, and is growing!

NS: What inspired you to work with TFN?

Dana: I liked their no frills, no centerpiece approach. Their model to democratize philanthropy, support small, social impact innovators and their sense of fun, spoke to me. I also love the inclusiveness and diversity of our NYC events that bring people of all ages and backgrounds together — one of the many reasons why I love New York City.

NS: What are your objectives this year with TFN? 

Dana: To find at least two more corporate partners to host two more events this year.

NS: What’s your secret to success? 

Dana: Flattered that you would ask, but I consider myself a work in progress. Laughing and remembering that life is short helps.

NS: What does beauty mean to you? 

Dana: Not letting all that noise out there distract you from being yourself.

NS: What’s your favorite beauty routine? 

Dana: In the morning, washing my face with cold water and lathering on the lotion. It feels sooo refreshing.

NS: Do you have a beauty tip that you would like to share? 

Dana: Sleep, lots of sleep!

NS: How can we stay connected with you?

Dana:
Website: www.sothebyshomes.com/nyc/agents/Dana.Williams or www.tfn-usa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tfnusa
Twitter: @TFN_USA
Instagram: Geez…working on it.
My newsletters: sign up by emailing me dana.williams@sothebyshomes.com

Special thanks to Dana for sharing with us!

MEET the ARTISAN: Naturally Susan’s Skin Care + GIVEAWAY

December 1, 2014 as published on Etsy New York Blog

“MEET the ARTISAN” is a blog series that spotlights Etsy New York Team artisans and their craft. In this feature, we learn more about Susan, the creator of Naturally Susan’s artisan skin care.  I had the pleasure of sitting down with Susan and picking her brain. Susan and I have worked at Celebrate Brooklyn together so it is always nice to catch up with her.

Q: What is Naturally Susan’s? Can you briefly describe your business for us?
A: Naturally Susan’s products are about skin-healthy and they’re about versatility. They’re about simplifying our lives and making our lives easier. I used to travel a great deal for business so simplifying my beauty routine and my travel bag whether I was going from day to evening, to the gym, shopping or on vacation are fundamental to the products that I develop. My products are effective, long lasting, and versatile. And, most importantly, my products are about being kind to your body.

Q: Some artisans develop their products to meet consumer needs, while others craft products based on things and/or experiences that inspire them. What is the inspiration behind your business?
A: I started making skin care products for myself because I wanted chemical-free and fragrance-free beauty care suitable for my sensitive skin. Our skin absorbs about 60% of what we put on it, so it’s important to keep that in mind when choosing the right skin care. I found an abundance of toxins and chemicals in many products, so I started researching and developing my own, creating products that are as pure to nature as possible.

Q: Oftentimes, each artisan has a different strategy and objective for their business. What are the next steps for you and your business?
A: The next steps for my business is to further broaden my audience and expand my business. I’ve continued to work with great partners so that we can grow together, domestically and internationally.

Q: Can you tell us some of the partners you have made? Retail stores where we can find your product?
A: Some of the business partners that I continue to work with includes Artists & Fleas. Partnering with them through their markets in both the Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Chelsea Market locations has helped to increase my brand exposure globally. I’ve also continued to work with local spas, schools, and nonprofit organizations to support businesses with philosophies and causes that align with my brand mission. You can shop my products on my Etsy shop and my e-commerce website at www.NaturallySusans.com. Also, select Naturally Susan’s products are available at Artists & Fleas curated online shop and StopTHINKShop’s GOODstuff Holiday Pop Up, a social good pop up shop at 103 Allen Street, in the Lower East Side, during this holiday season. There are a number of things in progress, and I look forward to sharing more news soon.

Q: As many artisans look to grow and further develop their businesses, do you have some advice that you can share with fellow artisans?
A: I’ve learned that if you’re passionate about something, it’s worth exploring. And, whether you’re just starting your business or have been in business for some time, it’s important to join a collaborative network. The level and diversity of experience in the networks are broad and deep and the knowledge that can be garnered benefits both budding and experienced entrepreneurs. Special thanks to Susan for sharing with us. You can find her products showcased on her Etsy shop at www.NaturallySusans.Etsy.com. Susan is also selling this month at the following markets: Artists & Fleas, Exhale Spa, Etsy NY’s Holiday Handmade Cavalcade at Chelsea Market, and more, so please check out her calendar at www.NaturallySusans.com/news.

And we didn’t forget about her giveaway!  The details of her special product GIVEAWAY are below. Enter for your chance to win HERE!

Roll On Moisturizers & Natural Perfumes 3-Pack Gift Set Retail value: $63.00 WIN the set! Packaged in convenient roll on applicators, our natural perfumes are made with a blend of essential oils to stimulate, calm and heal. They’re noncomedogenic, fast-absorbing, and versatile so they can be used as moisturizers too! Pop these into your purses, carry-on bags, and gym bags…they’ll be all you need when you’re on the go! Gift set includes three (3) roll on moisturizers & natural perfumes:

  • 1 – Lavender Chamomile
  • 1 – Rose Patchouli
  • 1 – Ylang Ylang

Gift packaged in a white gift box with green ribbon. Patch test for skin sensitivity. Results may vary. This is perfect for the holiday season! Can I enter even though I did the interview? Enter to WIN HERE! Entry period ends at 11:59pm on Monday, December 15, 2014! Tracey https://www.etsy.com/shop/traceytoole