V&M getting creative with gizzadas

Observer writer

Sunday, January 20, 2019

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Like ackee and salt fish and the patty, the gizzada is a Jamaican original. The coconut-filled pastry has been a culinary favourite in the country for decades.

Venise Hooper and her mother Marcia have sought to change the look and taste of the popular dessert through their company, V&M Creative Gizzadas. They go beyond its traditional crust-circled, grated coconut make by producing gizzadas lined with peanut and oats and spirulina.

The small business has 15 types of gizzadas. They are made by Hooper and her mother, who sell their products four times per week in the vicinity of the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre in Kingston.

Hooper, 35, is the driving force behind V&M Creative Gizzadas, which is based at the family home in Innswood Village, St Catherine. She is its CEO and sales manager, as well as sharing baking duties with her mother and younger brother Sabali.

The family business celebrates its second anniversary this month. Response to their gizzadas, Hooper said, is encouraging.

“I'm excited and amazed at persons' expressions on (how they love) fruit and vegetable gizzadas. My biggest challenges are to let Jamaicans know my products don't contain a lot of sugar, and they are totally different from the ones we grew up to know,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

Other flavours on the 'V&M' gizzada line are mixed fruits (shredded carrot, beetroot and pineapple) and raisins. She said the mixed-fruit is the most popular brand with the spirulina, derived from the versatile plant, a favourite among men and popularised in song..

The Hoopers bake two flavours daily, with biggest 'markets' being their hometown and the busy Half-Way-Tree bus park where they sell as late as 9:00 pm.

Though baking is a family tradition, V&M Creative Gizzadas is the Hoopers' formal venture into commerce. Hooper studied food and nutrition while attending Clan Carthy High School in Kingston, and completed a hospitality course while living in the United Kingdom.

It was her mother's idea to start a gizzada-driven business. They launched with the conventional gizzada (grated coconut, sugar and flour crust) but diversified their brand last year.

V&M Creative Gizzadas is a typical small Jamaican family business. Funding for production is internal and it may take some time before they make inroads in a competitive market to realise a profit.

Venise Hooper is aware of this.

“This is my first business venture, and being an independent female has its challenges, but the business is driven by main source, the Almighty God. I see myself exporting products all over the world in five years,” she said.

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