HAD Giselle Grant known that COVID-19 would have hit the world in March, she would not have quit her job to dive head on into her baking business. Within a few weeks she found herself in the deep end of entrepreneurship, learning to swim in troubled waters. But despite the frantic start, the hard-working 24-year-old is beginning to find her rhythm, and she now considers jumping overboard from corporate to be the best decision she has made this year.
“I'm not sure why I only now considered making a career out of baking,” the cheerful owner of Gisz Delightsz Pastries and Delightful Tools told All Woman. “I've been baking for as long as I can remember. It's something that I learned from my grandmother, and my mother, and I have been baking cupcakes to sell since high school when I wanted some extra pocket money.”
But necessity is indeed the mother of invention, as Grant, who had opted to pursue a bachelors in tourism management after graduating from Wolmer's Girls' school, found herself on a career path that she was not passionate about, and knew she needed to find her bearing.
“Up to when I was leaving high school I wasn't sure what I wanted to be,” she said. “It was all very up in the air for me. So when it was time to start university, I decided to go into tourism management because I just thought the tourism industry was a good one to be in.”
Grant landed an internship with Sandals Montego Bay, which blossomed into her staying on as a front desk clerk, so she relocated to Montego Bay while she continued her studies at The University of the West Indies western Jamaica campus. When she parted ways with Sandals, she started working with an optical care provider.
“I worked there as a receptionist for a few months, and eventually got an opportunity to do sales, then I was promoted to supervisor, and eventually to manager,” she said.
Grant poured her energy into work and school, and was earning enough to keep going, but she wanted more. It was then that she thought perhaps she could return to her passion of baking, but just on the side, while she continued with her 9-5.
“I was talking with a co-worker at an event, and I suggested to her, what if I could do both? Because I was still going to university, and I had fees to pay, and I had bills to pay. We sat there and we discussed it, and that very day I started the Instagram page (@giszdelightsz). I did some content baking and posted the pictures, and I haven't looked back since.”
That was last summer, and Grant stayed on at her day job until a close relative of hers fell ill and she had to travel abroad to assist him at the start of the year. Upon her return two weeks later, she felt more restless than ever in her day job. She knew she was not fulfilling her passion, and she wanted more for herself. After long and careful consideration, she resigned.
“I said, well, something will work out. I am going to go fully into my business, and if it doesn't work out, I will find another job,” she recalled. Then came the pandemic.
Though she sent out several applications, and was even shortlisted for one opportunity, that was put on hold due to COVID-19. She put all her effort into Gisz Delighstz.
“I tried every way and means of making it work,” she shared. “I tried the Montego Bay market, to see how I could push my business there. My family is in Kingston, so I would promote when I went to visit, and my boyfriend is in Mandeville, so I would do the same there...It didn't happen right away, but eventually things began to pick up.”
By June, Grant was beginning to get more calls for her delectable cupcakes, doughnuts, customised birthday cakes and other sweet treats, and she registered her business. When another major hurdle appeared in her path, she not only cleared it, but she turned it into another stream of income.
“I started Delightful Tools out of frustration. One day I was in Mandeville, and I had some jobs to do there, but the only place I knew there that sold baking tools was closed on a Saturday due to the owners being Seventh-day Adventist. After that experience, I decided to source the hard-to-get tools by myself and sell to other bakers, because the demand is there for them.”
Now that her business is stable enough to pay for itself, and a few of her other bills, Grant is currently focused on growing more steadily, while maintaining the quality that she started out with. Eventually, though, she wants Gisz Delightsz to become the standard of delicious baked goods in Jamaica.
“I want my business to eventually become even bigger than the biggest bakery in Jamaica right now, and I also have other things I want to invest my time in,” the young woman shared. “What I have learned from this experience is to just trust the process, and do what you want regardless of what others think.”