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!

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In the NS Parlour Spotlight: Sharon Elezye of Elezye’s Elegant Cover-ups

© NayMarie Photography

© NayMarie Photography

Full Name: Sharon Elezye

State of Residence: New York

Occupation: Event Linen Rental

NS: Briefly describe your role at Elezye’s Elegant Cover-ups.

A: As Co-owner and Lead Linen Consultant of Elezye’s Elegant Cover-ups, I have one guiding principle: Curating linens and table accessories of the finest design and quality in a wide range of colors, styles, and textures that will complement any theme and enhance any venue. My main role is to provide personalized service to guide clients or event planners through the selection process.

NS: How long have you been in this role?

A: Elezye’s Elegant Cover-ups was founded in 2008.

NS: Describe Elezye’s Elegant Cover-ups products and offerings?

A: Elezye’s Elegant Cover-ups is an award-winning boutique linen rental company.  Inspired by our love for timeless elegance we offer a wide selection of stunning table and chair linens, and table top accessories – napkins, chargers, brooches, and napkin rings.  Our mix of chic, glamourous, and fashion forward designs infuse event spaces with style and elegance. Most of our linens are in-stock items, some are custom linens that are made to order.

NS: What inspired you to pursue this entrepreneurial path?

A: After a disastrous experience with the chosen vendors for our wedding reception décor, my husband and I knew that a venture into the wedding and events industry would be the right decision for us. Our goal was to fill the niche for availability of couture linen rentals in the New York outer boroughs and provide unprecedented serviceHaving a sibling who designed and sewed beautiful clothing also heavily influenced my love of fabrics, design, and a well-tailored product.

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

A: My advice would be to do your homework.  Learn as much as you can about both the financial and operational aspect of the business and then let your creativity take over.

NS: What are your objectives this year with Elezye’s Elegant Cover-ups?

A: The objective for this year is to showcase our capabilities and position the company to shine by continuing to increase the company’s visibility in the tri-state area through multi-media marketing and networking activities, and by conducting the first of many seminars on event linens for celebrants and wedding professionals.

NS: What’s your secret to success?

A: Simply put, commit to your dreams, work hard, and never give up.  

NS: What does beauty mean to you?

A: Beauty is self esteem, it’s the way a person carries him/herself, the kindness of their heart, and the honesty of their words and deeds. Beauty has little to do with looks or outward appearance, for that is superficialBeauty is priceless like you.

NS: What’s your favorite beauty routine?

A: I like to keep it simple…I exfoliate my face and use fragrance-free skin care products to avoid skin irritation.  For a night out on the town, classic light makeup for a natural appearance works for me!

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

A: Don’t follow trends.  It doesn’t matter what is said to be “in style” or the latest fashion, follow your inspiration, do what you want, and you’ll realize that you’re beautiful no matter what.

NS: How can we stay connected with you?

A: We invite the readers to visit our showroom.  Until then, connect with us online at our website at http://www.eeclinens.com or on Twitter at @Elezyeinfo.

Special thanks to Sharon for sharing with us!

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!