Tue | Aug 20, 2019

Kerry-Gaye Pitter uses setbacks to start business and provide for family

Published:Saturday | July 20, 2019 | 12:18 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Samples of Pitter’s cakes
Samples of Pitter’s cakes

Mandeville, Manchester:

“We need women who are so strong they can be gentle, so educated they can be humble, so fierce they can be compassionate, so passionate they can be rational, and so disciplined they can be free.”

– Kavita Ramdas

It was series of disappointments and devastating episodes that pushed Kerry-Gaye Pitter into what she now realises is her passion, and can see herself doing nothing more than being the one who fulfils that passion.

The owner and operator of Regina’s Kitchen lost her brother when she was seven; lost her father while in third form at high school; lost her opportunity to finish her tertiary education; lost her job and had to find innovative ways to tend to the health of her diabetic mother.

But she never quit.

“When my brother died, my mother thought I would have died as well because I didn’t eat or sleep for days. My father got sick when I was in third form, and by the end of summer, he was dead. That was the most devastating thing I had to go through. My world shifted. I felt like my world had stopped and everyone else just kept moving. Even now I can’t think about my father without tearing up. He was the best father anyone could ask for – the absolute best. He always put his family first in everything that he did.”

make living count

Pitter said her life fell apart when she lost her dad, but knew with each day she was gifted: she had to make living count.

“When I completed high school, I didn’t consider being a chef as a career path. But I fell in love with baking when I did Food and Nutrition in high school. That was when I considered opening a café, but only as a second income. In my circle, chefs don’t make a lot of money, so I wanted to become a lawyer. Somewhere along the line, I ended up at NCU (Northern Caribbean University) studying guidance counselling. I chose that path because I wanted to help kids in school.”

But she stumbled on another roadblock when the funds needed to complete her degree ran out and the job she had managed to secure laid her off.

“The money ran out and I didn’t get the student loan, so that dream crashed. I eventually decided to pursue my love of baking and enrolled in the Caribbean Institute of Hospitality and acquired the technical skills.”

She later realised it was pointless to not do what she loved, when she had everything within her to get the job done.

“I specialise in optional sugar-free cakes, pastries and traditional Jamaican desserts. I started the business because I was laid off from work when the company I was working for lost a huge account, and with nothing for the employees to do, we were all let go. I didn’t want to go through that again. I also started doing sugar-free (cakes) when my mother was diagnosed with diabetes and I wanted her to be able to eat the things she loved without worrying about it.”

She says looking back at her life she can safely say that the struggles she endured were moulding her for future.

“I love spending time with my family: they are my rock. Whether we go out or stay home, they are the people I like to be around the most. I like to come up with new recipes and my family are the taste testers. Spending time in my kitchen or online learning something new about the latest baking trends, that’s fun for me. I could bake every day for the rest of my life and not be bored.”

As a working mother, Pitter said her support system makes it possible to do the things she does. She believes that women must never give up on a dream, no matter what.

“Being a woman, we have to work twice as hard to be given half the opportunity a man gets. Try to just focus on the positive side of things all the time. Doesn’t matter how bad things get, there is always a positive in the situation. Wherever you are in life, that is where God meant for you to be. Nothing is by accident, you may not see it as such, but make the best of every situation. Bloom where you are planted.”

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com