Métis woman launches nut-free bakery/restaurant after developing nut allergies
By Sam Laskaris
Jenna White is fulfilling a childhood dream.
“When I was a kid I always wanted to own a bakery or a restaurant,” said White, who is a Métis Nation of Ontario member.
Mission accomplished. That’s even though it took White a bit of time to accomplish her goal.
White, a 39-year-old who now lives in the New Brunswick capital of Fredericton, launched her business called Jenna’s Nut-free Dessertery in 2019.
Her business started off on a rather small scale. She started off selling goodies including nut-free muffins, cookies and cupcakes at a farmers’ market, held each Saturday in Fredericton.
“That’s not what I wanted to be doing though,” White said.
Her business expanded once she was able to purchase a refrigerated display case. That’s when she was able to make some fancier desserts, including eclairs and cheesecakes.
“Things started going well then,” White said. “I was the only nut-free bakery in the province at the time.”
Once the pandemic hit, however, in early 2020, White was not able to continue operating her business.
“It made me stop everything, like it did for a lot of people,” White said.
White, however, decided to make the most of her down time and she enrolled in various online business courses that she felt would help her in the future.
Then, in June of 2021 she opened a business, serving various breakfast and lunch options.
White had a personal reason for launching a nut-free bakery/restaurant. She developed a severe allergy to nuts while she was in her 30s.
Since her options to visit bakeries and restaurants she had previously enjoyed were now limited, White took matters into her own hands. White also knew countless others would enjoy nut-free products and a place where they could go to enjoy those items.
While she had longed for her own bakery or restaurant since she was a child, White said she was not able to pursue her goal when she herself became a parent.
She has three children now, aged 12, 13 and 14.
“When I was bringing up the kids, I was mostly bringing up the kids to be perfectly honest,” she said, adding she would not have had the time to pursue another career as well at the time.
But now that her children are older, White can devote time to her business.
Actually, make that businesses since White is also the founder of A Taste of the Atlantic.
This event was a two-day pilot project last November in Fredericton and consisted of a celebration of Indigenous food and culture.
A Taste of the Atlantic is expanding this year and will be staged over a pair of weekends in August, once again in Fredericton.
And to think her initiatives all got their start because she had a booth at a weekly farmers’ market a few years ago.
“It’s a big surprise,” White said. “I didn’t really know how things would go. It definitely took on a mind of its own.”
White will be sharing her recent career successes at this year’s Cando Conference, scheduled for June 26-29 in Membertou, N.S.
She has been selected as one of the four individuals to be on the conference’s Women in Business panel.
The panelists will discuss their stories of being Indigenous women entrepreneurs in Canada.
“I think it’s probably quite interesting because I had a lot of obstacles,” White said. “I think it’s important to start small and grow from there.”