Marisa Nuñez, Marisa Hair, Long Island City, NY
Janie Deegan

Janie Deegan

Janie Bakes

New York, New York

A Regained Life Through a Rediscovered Passion

Janie had always loved cooking, but it was in her early 20’s that it saved her life. “I became homeless due to addiction. I got sober but realized I had no sense of self. I knew that to stay sober, I needed to have a passion in life. Baking sort of stepped right in. It was the perfect outlet in regaining my life. Sharing things that I put so much love and effort into and seeing people’s reactions gave me the self-esteem and confidence boost that I needed.” Janie was working as a nanny during the day while baking at night, however she knew this routine was unsustainable. “I realized if I was going to actually make this into a real business, I had to make the jump and commit full-time.” Janie founded Janie Bakes, a wholesale and online pastry shop. “Since I started, it’s been crazy to see the exponential growth.”

A Future Derailed

In December 2019, Janie received a loan from Ascendus to launch a new product. She had dozens of orders lined up, yet her launch plans became completely derailed by COVID-19. “By March, all of those orders were delayed or cancelled outright, which put me in a huge financial hole.” Janie also participates in the Queens Night Market, an outdoor market with about 20,000 visitors nightly that was forced to cancel for the year. “For my summer months, this is about 75% of my monthly revenue so that’s been a huge setback. This is the only source of income for myself and my two employees so I’m worried about our financial health.”

Finding the Silver Linings

Despite the challenges she’s faced, Janie has found new sources of revenue. “I’ve had an 11,000% revenue increase in eCommerce from last year to now.” With a higher demand for packaged products in grocery stores, Janie was approached by Whole Foods to have her new product in 25 locations. “I was able to use the loan from December to have this new product ready to go. Without that loan, I wouldn’t be on Whole Foods shelves right now. All my retail was contingent on packaging, which was dependent on that loan.” Janie also received a PPP loan from Ascendus, which will help with payroll for her employees. “My number one priority is keeping my employees employed right now.”

Messages of Support

Throughout the past few months, Janie has also been reminded of the value of support networks as well as the value of herself, as both a small business owner, and as an individual with a story to share. “My community has grown and sustained my business and is what is keeping the literal oven on right now. I’ve gotten dozens of texts and emails from customers offering their support, someone I’ve met one time reaching out to me in such a personal way. I get chills just thinking about it. It made me realize how much of a following I have.”

sign up for our newsletters

Skip to content