Pastry shop owner hopes to inspire young Black entrepreneurs

SEATTLE — A young Seattle pastry chef just launched her own business and hopes to inspire other entrepreneurs.

Shikorina Pastries owner Hana Yohannes told KIRO 7′s Tracey Leong it took the support of family, friends and strangers to make this possible.

“I think it’s important to have businesses in your area that are owned and representative of the community that you are serving,” said Yohannes.

The name Shikorina is a nod to her Eritrean heritage — it means “sweetness” in her family’s native language, Tigrinya.

“Being in the Central District, an area that use to be a predominantly Black area, it’s really important to me and very special to me to be in this area as a Black business, and it’s important to make space for other Black entrepreneurs,” Yohannes said.

She has been passionate about baking since she was a little girl, but never thought she could pursue it as a career.

In 2019, Yohannes decided to make the leap. Shortly after dropping out of Stanford University, she enrolled in The Pastry Project, which was a community space in Pioneer Square offering free pastry and baking training to make the industry more accessible.

Yohannes completed the Pastry Project in 2020, but plans to open her own shop were put on hold due to the pandemic and the challenges she faced to find investors.

“Being a child of two immigrants who didn’t have any exposure to starting their own business, I did not know where to start when I was starting my own business,” she said. “I think a major part of it was access to capital which is so difficult as a Black person, especially a Black business, which is something I experienced firsthand. Starting my own business and being a woman of color, it was really difficult to access capital, which is why starting my GoFundMe was so important to me; because the major institutions weren’t willing to give me the loans that I needed.”

In June of 2021, Yohannes opened up her shop. She is sharing an Eritrean tradition of roasting coffee beans, which is part of her culture’s coffee ceremony, as well as personalized recipes with unique combinations of local ingredients.

Connecting people through her sweet creations is what truly brings Yohannes joy.

“Definitely makes me feel really warm inside to know people are enjoying my pastries. I really strive to cater to the people I am working with,” she said.

Yohannes hopes her story inspires other entrepreneurs to pursue their passions, and to understand that anything is achievable if you put in the work.

“No matter what obstacles you think you might have in your way, you can get over them,” she said.