David Crabill: Welcome to the Forrager Podcast, where I talk with cottage food entrepreneurs about their strategies for running a food business from home. I’m David Crabill, and today I’m talking with Fawzeya Owda. But real quick, I wanted to check, have you created a website for your business yet?
And if you have, do you pay for it? A lot of entrepreneurs still think they need to spend money to get a good website, and that is simply not true anymore. I am a really big fan of Square Online. That’s what I use for my Fudge Businesses’ website. And I created a free tutorial that will walk you through how to set up a totally free website in less than one hour.
And in case you think free also means cheap. It’s actually quite the opposite. I think Square Online is hands down, the very best website tool for most cottage food businesses. And it’s even better than any of the other paid services out there. So if you want to learn more, you can check out my free tutorial by going to forrager.com/website.
All right, so I have Fawzeya Owda on the show today. Fawzeya lives in Norwood, Ohio, and sells cheesecake and other baked goods with her food business, Foz Bakery. Fawzeya grew up in Palestine, has always loved baking Palestinian desserts, but when she moved to the US 10 years ago, she started experimenting with American baked goods as well.
And after a lot of encouragement from family and friends, she finally started to sell her home baked cakes, cookies, and pies in 2017, but with three young kids to take care of, she mostly just sold to family and friends for the first few years. But then after the pandemic hit in 2020, things really started to change. Orders started to pick up.
She joined a training program for chefs and then received a grant, which gave her free access to a shared commercial kitchen for a full year. And with access to that incubator kitchen, she could start selling what she really wanted to sell: cheesecake. Fawzeya now makes an unbelievable number of flavors of cheesecake, her most popular of which is baklava cheesecake.
So very unique that cheesecake is two cultures merged into one, kind of like Fawzeya herself. Since starting to sell cheesecake, her business has really picked up and continues to grow. She now has over 3,500 followers on Facebook. And today we’re gonna walk through her journey and see how it all unfolded.
And with that, let’s jump right into this episode.
Welcome to the show, Fawzeya! Nice to have you here.
[00:02:30] Fawzeya Owda: Hi. How are you?
[00:02:32] David Crabill: Good. Well thank you so much for coming on and uh, can you walk me back to not just the beginning of your business, but I guess when you came over to the States.
[00:02:41] Fawzeya Owda: Sure. I did move to, the state 10 years ago, I would say now, and actually I moved here with my husband. My husband has been here for 27 years, but we met in Palestine and we got engaged and I moved here with him.
At the beginning, it was just a passion and just posting what. Do for that day, or what dessert did I have? Or what food did I cook that day? And then after that, a lot of people start asking, “Are you selling this? Is that your business?” And I was like, “No, it’s just a passion.”
I’m not selling any. And then my husband one time, he was like, “Are you sure you’re not gonna start selling that? Because it taste amazing and you’re doing great with the cooking and the dessert.” And that time when clicks. I was like, I think I need people to try it and see how it goes from there.
[00:03:36] David Crabill: So when did you actually start selling your baked goods?
[00:03:40] Fawzeya Owda: I would say it 2017, but it was just for like really close friend and like neighbors. So it was really small at the beginning and then it start really selling a lot during Covid time, 2020 that went like, Yes, I do have this business and I’m doing it. And that when it get all started,
[00:04:06] David Crabill: All right. So you were just baking for a number of years and it sounds like things really kicked off during the pandemic. But you also have kids, right? You have three kids?
[00:04:17] Fawzeya Owda: I do, I do have three kids, two boys and a girl.
[00:04:22] David Crabill: So how old were they when you started to sell?
[00:04:25] Fawzeya Owda: Actually when I started to promote that I’m going to open that bakery and started to sell. She was six months old. And then after that, when it really kicked, she was three years old. So I get my youngest, she was three, and then my oldest, he was I would say six and then five and three.
[00:04:46] David Crabill: Wow. So pretty young, right? And you’re trying to start a business on top of it.
[00:04:52] Fawzeya Owda: Yeah. Actually the main idea of starting this business is like, I’m gonna start something for me. you know, when they grow up, everybody’s like their college, their life. And I don’t wanna sit and feel like, what did I do? I don’t have anything to keep myself busy with.
And it was like, Yes, I think I’m gonna start it now. And it will stay slowly and steady until they all grow up. And then, yes, that’s my project. actually, I’m starting just like my youngest baby now. So Foz Baker is my fourth baby , and I’m starting slowly and steady.
[00:05:26] David Crabill: So you are just baking for fun cause you’re passionate about it. And then you got people who were asking to buy things. What was your first order like?
[00:05:37] Fawzeya Owda: My first order was a friend of mine and she asked for a bridal shower order and I was like, Oh wow, for how many people? And she’s like, I need it for 50 people. And I was like, Are you? You wanna me to do it for you? And it was just basic stuff, Cupcakes and chocolate dip, strawberries. And I was like, Okay, I’ll take it and see how it goes.
And it was really fun doing that. and it went great. Actually. I really liked it.
[00:06:09] David Crabill: So did you have any kind of training or how were you learning uh, and improving your skills?
[00:06:17] Fawzeya Owda: YouTube I didn’t train at all. I didn’t went to any schools or university for that. The first time I learned something about cheesecake, it was through YouTube and then I start trying the recipes and it need a little bit sugar, need less sugar, need a little bit flavor, and then work on it and improve myself.
[00:06:42] David Crabill: Yeah, your products are pretty interesting, right? Cause they’re kind of a blend of Palestine and American. And so was it when you came over to the States that you started just experimenting with American baked goods?
[00:06:55] Fawzeya Owda: That’s true. I have been like loving baking and cooking since I was like 10 years old. But when I moved here to America and was like really missing home and every time I tried something sweet or a dessert, it was like really sweet and a lot of sugar going on and not giving me the same taste that I used to have in Palestine.
So I was like, I’m gonna try to make my own recipe with less sugar, more flavor and expose it to other people and see how they like it. Blending my culture to their culture and see how it works. And that’s when I came up with baklava cheesecake., So I blended the baklava with the cheesecake and it was a big hit.
A lot of people was like, I really love baklava but never had it with a cheesecake. So The first time when I moved here, my husband is like, Let’s try some cheesecake. And I was like, What’s cheesecake? And he’s like, you never have, try a cheesecake. He’s like, Actually, no. In Palestine we do have all type of dessert, but never heard anything called cheesecake. And he is like, Okay, let’s go ahead and try it. And the first time when I try it, I was like, I’m not gonna go ahead and order anything crazy. Let me try the basic original New York style cheesecake with strawberry topping. And I loved it, but the only problem that I had, it’s like it is really too sweet for me.
Like I cannot handle that much sugar, like every bite. It’s like I can taste other ingredients, but the sugar. It was overpowering other ingredients. And I was like, I think I’m gonna go ahead and try do mine and see how it goes. I look at the internet and YouTube and it’s like, there’s a lot of recipes and, basically they’re all the same cause it’s the same ingredient So the first time I try do my own cheesecake, it was New York style cheesecake. And then when I eat it, it’s like, yeah, I really love it, the flavor of it and then I start mixing flavors and that how it goes from there, it’s like, okay, now let me try it with baklava because I really like the cinnamon and the walnut and the almond crunch in in my food and my dessert. I went and I was hosting Thanksgiving in my house that day. And then my husband’s like, What is this? And the family is like, What is this? And I was like, baklava cheesecake. And they’re like, What? And I was like, Yeah, it’s a baklava cheesecake. Because when you look at it in the cheesecake itself, you cannot imagine that it’s filled with cheesecake, which it’s like cheesecake wrapped with filo dough and topped with almond, walnut and cinnamon. they tried it and it was like, how do we come up with this thing? I told my sister-in-law, it was like, I really like the cheesecake taste, but I really like baklava too. And it was like, well, why not combine them together? Because when I moved here, I’m a Palestinian knowing nothing about American culture And then It’s like, two culture in one dish. So that was my main idea of that. Cheesecake.
[00:10:01] David Crabill: it’s so interesting that you have this product that is a blend of, you know, the east and the west. And It’s almost like a representation of yourself,
[00:10:12] Fawzeya Owda: Yeah, so do you have a lot of customers that are Palestinian?
I do have Palestinian customers, but I would say I have more of American customers, like the people that would like to try more flavors and like something different. But I do have Palestinian customers. Yeah.
[00:10:34] David Crabill: So the cheesecake, I mean, I know the baklava cheesecake has such a unique item, but you have really just created so many different kinds of cheesecake. It was just unbelievable to me going through your social feed. I would say you definitely have set the record for the most flavors I have seen of an item from any cottage food business.
And I actually went through and I counted them up really quickly, and I counted over 80 different flavors that you have created of cheesecake.
[00:11:07] Fawzeya Owda: Yeah, that’s true. like every time trying something or asking people around me about their favorite flavors and what they like, and I was like, Okay. It’s a lot, but at the same time it’s like letting people know that if you like something or if you’re passionate about something, you can do it. And a lot of people was like, How do you come up with all this flavor? And I was like, Just look around you. Basically, when I stand in the kitchen and look around myself, blueberry, lemon, they could work together. Orange chocolate. And it’s like just looking around my, kitchen. And there were a lot of fruits and like flavor that we can’t combine together and have it as a cheesecake or as a dessert. And I do like to add a lot of fruit in my dessert so it can reduce a lot of sugar. So my main idea about not just having. A business or not just having a bakery. It’s like reducing sugar as much as they can. And a lot of people like it’s not gonna taste the same. And I will go, I promise you it will taste the same.
You don’t have to have that much sugar to enjoy the dessert that you want. And it’s like, this is one main idea and purpose. For me. It’s like reducing sugar as much as they can because I do have kids and when I just go through what the kids can eat and it’s a lot of sugary stuff. My kids used to snack on fruit as their dessert and vegetables as they’re like chips.
So I was like, I want a lot of people to have this idea too. You didn’t have to have a ton of sugar to fix your. Sweet tooth, right? So you have the baklava cheesecake that seems like it’s a really popular one. What are some of the other of the 80 plus flavors you’ve created, what are some of the ones that really stand out and have been really popular?
I would say blueberry, lemon baklava, strawberry crunch. The Brownie one, Oreo and the chocolate chip cookie one. and then the crème brulée one, the people always asking, like it’s always people asking for me to So I would say six flavors that they are really, Most people will like to try them.
[00:13:26] David Crabill: And I see that you change your menu up every single week, right? Can you explain what you.
[00:13:33] Fawzeya Owda: Yeah. So my strategy is to do something called fozbakery menu Monday menu. So every Monday I will have three flavors and you can choose from them. Actually, I would say two flavors because the baklava it’s always in every menu. So it’s always available fresh. But every Monday I will try to add two other flavors for the people to like order.
Some people will like to have the fruity type of cheesecake, like fruits and cheesecake and other type will like it, just chocolate or caramel. So every Monday I would go ahead and post a menu three flavors. And it’s been working like that for the past two years.
[00:14:16] David Crabill: So let’s say you come out with your Monday menu, right? And on Wednesdays, somebody or whenever you need to order by somebody says, Oh could I get the, you know, I know you have your menu, but could I get a chocolate mint cheesecake instead? Would you say No?
[00:14:31] Fawzeya Owda: No, I would never, I will take the order, of course, but a lot of people will like, what can I order? What, what do you have? And then like, that’s where the idea came. It’s like, okay, people will ask me what do I have? And maybe they’re not gonna like it or it’s not what they’re feeling like, so I’m gonna go ahead and do that Monday menu.
But a lot of people will comments like, Can I order from last week menu? And instead of this week menu is like, Yeah, of course we still can do that for you. it’s not always, it’s, I would say it’s a like I will have this type of request once a week, so it’s not, a lot of people will come and it’s like, I wanna order something from three weeks ago
[00:15:14] David Crabill: Yeah, so most people would just put out their menu, right? Well, I have these 12 different cheesecakes you can order, but so this is like a marketing thing, right? you’re only putting out the select menu just to get it on people’s mind.
[00:15:27] Fawzeya Owda: ago. Exactly. Yeah.
[00:15:28] David Crabill: So it seems like that’s been working well, and I know you have a larger menu than just cheesecake.
What else do you sell
[00:15:35] Fawzeya Owda: I do sell cheesecakes cakes, like birthday cakes, any occasion cakes. And then I do have brownies, cupcakes and macaroons
[00:15:47] David Crabill: and has your menu changed over time?
[00:15:50] Fawzeya Owda: No, it’s the same thing since I started, like I will have my menu, It was like cheesecakes cakes and cupcakes and then cookies and brownies. I just added macarons recently because I do really like macarons and I was like, a lot of people, it’s like, it’s challenging. I don’t think you’re gonna be able to do, It’s like, hmm, let me try.
I would say it is really challenging and it’s a process. It took me like forever to fix my recipe, but when I get the hang of it, it’s like, okay, I’m gonna go ahead and start.
[00:16:21] David Crabill: So with the baklava cheesecake, you’ve obviously merged East and West. What are some of the other uh, instances where you’ve combined something from your home country with uh, American baked good?
[00:16:35] Fawzeya Owda: I did the Kunafa cheesecake too. That’s true. And the cookie butter. This one too. Baklava, the Kunafa and the cookie butter cheesecake. They were like, Oh, what is this flavor? And it was like, I have to like pull and a picture to let people see, and it was like, Oh, okay, now I understand what it is.
So, yeah, Free flavors.
[00:16:55] David Crabill: So you, you have your like weekly menus, right? That you put out on social, and then you also make a pretty big deal about having a holiday menu. Right.
[00:17:07] Fawzeya Owda: That’s true. I know when I moved here to America, as I told you as growing up in Palestine, I just know my holidays, which is three festivals like we have Ramadan that we fast for 30 days from Sun up to sundown.
And then after that we do have Eid al-Fitr, which is like the end of that month. And it’s basically a big gathering. We, go ahead and be with the family and basically I would say like Thanksgiving. Type of thing. And then after that we have , which is after finishing the pilgrimage in Mecca. And then I would say it’s more like people will get together and have a lot of fun and activities, like kids are playing together having family over some, families will travel from us to other places, like to visit their families.
Basically it’s like Christmas type thing. And it keep changing every year, the time and the day change every year. So when I moved here to America and I was like, What is Thanksgiving? What is Christmas? And I felt like, Oh yeah, it’s basically the same as my holidays. But in the different culture.
And it was like, if people will have that holiday and they will have a lot of family coming over and there’s a lot of people, why not me as a Palestinian Muslim? And I was like helping, at least with their dessert, it’s gonna be something cool, right? So I started from there and it’s like every holiday I will have my holiday menu and they can choose from it.
So it’s just a holiday thing.
[00:18:45] David Crabill: so I mean that’s so interesting cause you know, obviously you’re a Muslim, but you do like, have an Easter menu. Do you have a Christmas menu? But you don’t have like a Ramadan menu, right? You don’t have a menu for your own holidays. Is there a reason or does it just cause you think it wouldn’t be popular enough?
[00:19:04] Fawzeya Owda: I would disagree on this one. So I did have that menu and it was for my community, so it was a community menu. I would post it on their website So I did have um, a Ramadan menu and I did have the Eid al-Adha menu and, but I, I didn’t post it on my page. I posted it on my community page, which is like through the mosque. And then from there I got the orders because if I posted on my, Instagram, gonna be honest with you, it’s gonna be a lot of explanation.
It’s like, what is this flavor and what it does have? and a lot of people was like, they’re not gonna understand exactly what it is. So if I told you, Would you like to have Qatayef and I was like, What is, And like basically it’s a pancake that’s filled with almond, cinnamon and walnuts and you can bake it or you can fry it.
And I will serve it with rosewater syrup. And it was like, what is rosewater syrup? But if I go ahead and post it in my community page, they will exactly understand that this type of dessert is just for Ramadan and it’s easier for me. So I went in like the easiest.
[00:20:14] David Crabill: Walking back to the beginning of your business, you, you were selling just a little bit and you said the pandemic really kicked things into gear. So can you take me through the year 2020? What was that like?
[00:20:28] Fawzeya Owda: So year 2020 through a friend, she introduced me to a nonprofit organization in Covington Kentucky. And then, Organization. They have a program that called Fresh Low Program. They will teach you everything about how to start a business and exactly as a food business. And they will teach you some of the skills, that you need to start this business. And then she’s like, Why not? Go ahead and apply for it and see how it goes. And then I went and I applied for it and I got it. It was a really fun experience because I spent, I would say, three months of learning how to start your own business, the small business. And then from that program they introduced me to the kitchen that I’m working, that I’m renting now that called the Incubator Kitchen. every year they will have a grand and five people will win a free. Rent. So you will go ahead and start using the kitchen for a whole entire year, but you don’t have to pay the rent for it. I would say it was 2020 when I applied for that grant and I, I won and that helped me a lot for starting my business because if I were that time in 2020 thinking about just go ahead and rent a kitchen and start my own business, I would say, No, I’m not financially able to do that, but when that grant I want, it helps me a lot for me, it was a really big deal because
Before having the kitchen, I was not selling cheesecake. The only thing I was selling is the cakes and the cupcakes. Maybe cookies and brownies, but not cheesecakes because I knew that I cannot do cheesecakes in my house.
So 2020 when all start and I got the grand for the kitchen. And after that, the owner of the kitchen, she did really help me a lot with my financial, how to work step by step toward my goals and how to help me reach a lot of people.
I don’t know. If you go ahead and open my Instagram page, you can see that I want that grand. And from there everything start to kick really good and I start to sell good amount of cheesecake. So after that 2021, the free rent. And you have to start paying your own rent. But I was prepared to do that because the whole entire year that I have in the kitchen without paying the rent, I was saving for the next year.
So I was like, Okay, I have to start saving for the next year so I can pay the rent and keep my business going.
[00:23:02] David Crabill: Now that you know, like you’ve obviously got into the incubator kitchen, you had this shared commercial kitchen space to work with for free, and your business took off. Do you feel like knowing that now should have gone back and invested or like found a way to invest in a commercial kitchen, Like is that a step that you would’ve taken?
[00:23:30] Fawzeya Owda: Of course. So before, as I told you, it was all a passion, so it’s like something that I really like and really enjoy and I’m doing it. But thinking back of photos of 2019, or I would say 2018, And I was like, I don’t think I’m gonna have any kitchen or like have any line selling from, It’s gonna stay as a passion. But everything that start, because of two main things. The program that I signed for and they teach me how, to start my own business and then for the grant that I want from the incubator kitchen collective.
[00:24:08] David Crabill: So let’s say you, you got into the fresh low Chef program, right? You got those skills, you applied for the incubator kitchen and I know many more. Applied, then got in, like let’s say you just didn’t get selected. Right? Where would your business be today, do you think?
[00:24:27] Fawzeya Owda: A passion just posting on Instagram. My business would be in 2015, not even thinking about having a big business because that opened a lot of doors for me.
not just open doors opened my mind to a lot of ideas and a lot of ways to have it the easiest way is it? With having an industrial kitchen, because imagine you have to sell that amount of cheesecake from home. What? It’s impossible.
It’s like a lot of work and a lot of risk. And then you have kids in the house and you live in that house. So I was not thinking of selling everything under just my house.
[00:25:10] David Crabill: So the kitchen obviously was great, you know, you could make your products, but there’s also like a community element, right? You’re working around other businesses. Do you feel like the community element of the kitchen was important?
[00:25:23] Fawzeya Owda: Of course, yeah. The community of that kitchen helps a lot with like, I was just new to everything. Like everything was new to me. Not knowing anything about like, Yeah, I need to have my label fixed, or where can I find my packaging?
How to package that thing, or where to buy the, packaging or the ingredients. Where is the, cheapest that you can have in a really good quality to help your business keep growing? So it was a lot of help having this big community in the kitchen.
[00:25:57] David Crabill: You know, obviously the kitchen was helpful so you could sell cheesecake, which has become your most popular item, but also it’s kind of unique, right? Cause you are in Norwood, right by Cincinnati and you are literally on the edge of, you know, the Ohio, Kentucky border and your kitchen is in Kentucky. Has there been any issue?
I guess there wouldn’t be cause the commercial kitchen. Maybe that would’ve been something you would’ve had to think about, like whether you could actually sell in Kentucky or now that you’re producing in Kentucky, if you could sell back in Ohio. Right. Has there been any issues legally with having to sell in two states or having to make it one state and sell it in another?
[00:26:38] Fawzeya Owda: I would say no, thank God. The thing that helps a lot is, the kitchen itself, it’s prepared. under all rules for two states. So as soon as you get in that kitchen and then the health department will come and exam you, and if you pass, you’re ready.
So I would say no. It was not a lot of challenging selling from Newport, Kentucky to Ohio. So it was not a problem.
[00:27:07] David Crabill: So let’s talk a little bit about pricing, right? Like how have you priced your products and how has that changed over time?
[00:27:16] Fawzeya Owda: I would say I start to feel the change now because everything is expensive now. Cream cheese is expensive. Sour cream is expensive, Packaging is getting expensive. So I would say I price it having them, how much does it cost me, and then how much time they have put in that order.
[00:27:38] David Crabill: Can you give a rundown of like you know, how big your cheesecakes are and what the prices are? Are they all the same price, and then maybe the prices of some of your other menu items?
[00:27:49] Fawzeya Owda: I do have three sizes of the cheesecake. So I have the mini one, which is like four inch cheesecake that will serve two people. So for the baklava one, because it is expensive for me to bake the baklava one now it’s for the mini one it’s $8, but for the eight inch, which is like for medium gathering, it will serve from six to eight people.
I would sell it for $45 and then the 10 inch, which is like for really big gathering, 10 to 15 people, I would sell it for $65. Just the baklava itself, but other flavors because it’s like, it’s less ingredients.
So it’s cheaper. The four inch, it’s $6, the eight inch is 35 and then the 10 inch is 55.
[00:28:40] David Crabill: Those are pretty, pretty good prices, right? I mean, is that standard compared to other bakeries in the area, or do customers like sometimes back away at seeing the prices?
[00:28:51] Fawzeya Owda: I don’t think so because when it’s a quality type of thing. So I think it’s a lot of bakery will sell the cheesecake for almost the same prices. So cheesecake itself, it’s not, a cheap dessert, I would say.
[00:29:06] David Crabill: And you know, you’ve got the kitchen, you obviously have the ability to produce them. How are you actually marketing and getting your uh, product out there?
[00:29:16] Fawzeya Owda: Instagram. Facebook. That’s the marketing.
[00:29:20] David Crabill: And it looked like your marketing really, It was like right in lockstep with the kitchen, right? Like all of a sudden you started getting really consistent with posting on social media.
[00:29:30] Fawzeya Owda: Exactly. that’s the community help that I got from the kitchen itself, because, The owner, Rachel, her name is Rachel. And she was like, What about if you describe more about your product? What about if you tell a little bit of a story about your product? And I would say she really helped me a lot through my baking journey.
So she got a lot of ideas and she got a lot of communication and she knows a good amount of people and she’s always ready to help when you need help. And it’s like if you just text her, Hey, what do you think about this? What do you think about that? She’s always responsible and she’s like, Yeah, let me help you with this.
let’s change this to that. that, kitchen community helps.
[00:30:12] David Crabill: I noticed that you, you know, you cut like your weekly menu on social. You got food photos galore, but I haven’t seen any pictures of yourself on social. Is that intentional?
[00:30:25] Fawzeya Owda: I would say I am more of a camera shy type of person. So if this podcast was with a video, I feel like, ugh, goodness. But if it’s just like audio, I’m fine with it.
Do you think that would a really good strategy to like post about the baker and let people, I would let my customer know more about the baker me.
[00:30:49] David Crabill: Oh yeah, I see that very commonly. Right. And I’m an introvert too, right? But people eventually find, like if they just let people know who’s making all this stuff, you’ll probably get a lot of engagement. If you were to post a picture of yourself and just share your story a little bit.
So I know you kind of get the word out on social media. Where do you actually sell your products?
[00:31:12] Fawzeya Owda: I would say I still just. customers. They will look at the Facebook page or Instagram and it’s like, I would like to order this so I know what you mean. Do you have your big goods in any other shops? Not yet. I don’t have them any other shops yet. I’m still working in two coffee shops, that one in Norwood and one in Covington.
But it’s like a project that I’m trying to build slowly and steady because my main job is a mom So I was having the same conversation with other business owner. She’s a mom too, and she’s like, Well, you’re not going out there and you’re not giving samples and you’re not trying to.
For other places. And it was like talking to her. my main job is a mom, and I don’t wanna grow that big so if I told you my schedule, now you’re gonna feel like I know where she’s coming from.
So I’m a mom of three. recently we just finished soccer for three teams, three different schedules. now I’m doing basketball. two. Teams we’re doing taekwondo and we’re doing wrestling and we’re doing this and we’re doing that.
And I was like, I’m gonna start get overwhelmed. I know that for sure. My main focus is my kids now and then when they grow up, I will look back and be like, “Yes, that’s a great idea that I started this business and people now know Foz bakery.”
I do not have to start from zero. So that’s why I’m pausing on selling my product on other places and coffee shops or restaurants. That’s why I’m not building it that big because I know my husband will help a lot, and every time I ask for help, he will be there for me.
But at the same time, being a mom it’s my favorite thing. It’s like my first thing, if anybody asks me, What are you, It’s like, I’m a mom of three. And then baker will come when they grow up. It’s gonna be, Yeah, I’m a mom of three. But I am a baker too, and I do have my business and it’s running.
[00:33:16] David Crabill: Yeah, it’s, it’s always a balancing act, right? Because you’re starting the business for family and then you have to balance, like, how much time do you put into the business that will take away from your family? So would you say like right now, where are you in terms of. Number of orders a week. Are you happy with how many orders you get?
Do you feel overwhelmed or do you want to grow a little bit more?
[00:33:42] Fawzeya Owda: I would say I’m between happy and grow a little bit, not too much. I’m in that stage in between. It’s like I’m really happy it’s working and I’m out there and a lot of people know Foz Bakery. I would love to have a little bit like more orders. But I will go ahead and answer happy where I am right now because looking back to foes at 2015, I was like not even thinking about having a business or not even imagining myself having a business with kids. So I’m, I’m really happy where Foz Bakery now,
[00:34:20] David Crabill: And so when people order, are you having them come pick up or are you typically delivering to them?
[00:34:26] Fawzeya Owda: Actually it’s a pickup, so I do two location pickups, normal location, and then Newport where the kitchen, where my main workplace is. So it’s a pickup only.
[00:34:38] David Crabill: So I also saw maybe it’s sporadic, right? But you have sold at farmer’s markets, you have sold at events, popups.
[00:34:45] Fawzeya Owda: yeah, So the farmer market, I just do Norwood because not every weekend. So it’s one Saturday of the month. And I was like, Okay, that’s fun because my kids will be next to me and with me. So I do have a lot of time to prepare for that market. the every week thing, I don’t think I’m ready for it yet.
[00:35:06] David Crabill: How well do your cheesecakes and other items tend to sell at events?
[00:35:10] Fawzeya Owda: I would say for experience from the normal farmer market. Every time I will go there, it’s like I will sold out because it’s more of my community. So they know me and they tried it before. it will sell it.
It goes really good.
[00:35:26] David Crabill: When you go to like a new event or popup, do you have samples that you give out
[00:35:32] Fawzeya Owda: I do, Yeah.
[00:35:33] David Crabill: and you said that your cheesecake is not as sweet as people might be expecting. Like are people surprised? What’s their reaction like when they try your cheesecake?
[00:35:43] Fawzeya Owda: Yeah. Uh, The first thing I will say, they, like, when they took a bite, just their face reaction was like, Oh, wow. One time I was having a popup and the only flavor that I put for sampling it was the blueberry, lemon cheesecake. And they tried it and I was like, There’s actually blueberries in there. I just loved the, the reaction of their faces. Like, I can’t taste every single. Flavor that she is talking about. I can taste the cheesecake, the cheesecake itself, and then the blueberry and then the lemon. So it’s all about how you can buy flavors and reduce sugar as much as I can.
[00:36:21] David Crabill: So as you think back, The course of your business. Are there any stories or memorable moments that stand out in your mind?
[00:36:29] Fawzeya Owda: Yeah. I remember one event that happened, it was a customer who’s from Egypt, and it was like, he lives his whole entire life here in, in United States. And it was like, I really would like to try the baklava cheesecake because as I’m thinking about it, it’s basically two culture in one dish. And I was like, Yeah, sure.
He ordered his cheesecake and I was having a small sample for him to try it. Because when you look at the amount of excitement that he put in writing the order, it was like, Oh my God, I wish I can just see his face when he tried it. And I still remember when he did try the cheesecake. He stopped tearing and I was like, Oh my God, my cheesecake is that bad. And he is like, Absolutely not. But when I tried the first, bite it’s like a flashback took me from where I’m standing now to Egypt where my grandma and my family is.
It’s like he’s here with his mom and dad, but not the whole entire family. So his. Grandma, grandpa uncles and everybody in the family in, Egypt, and he started talking to me about every summer how he go back to Egypt and he’s like, the amount of flavor that I’m having in one bite make me remember every single moment that I spent there, because that moment when he started like talking about his family and his summers and his grandma and grandpa, it’s made me felt like, yeah, I did something that he really liked and he enjoyed.
And after that he gave me a gift card and a thank you note. It was so amazing. How did he describe it? I, I posted on my Instagram his note because like there is really nice people out there and they’re always giving you a feeling that you did something really nice or you are doing good. this moment, it was really nice.
[00:38:21] David Crabill: As you think back on your home country of Palestine, I imagine quite different from Ohio, right? Like what are the things that you miss from your home country
[00:38:34] Fawzeya Owda: Oh, it’s a big difference when I moved here, the first thing that was different for me is the weather. there in Jerusalem, in Palestine, it’s more of nice summer, not humid summer, and the winter is mild. And I really missed everything there. I have not been there for, I would say six years now. I was planning to go there and then covid hit and cancel everything. And then I didn’t give the chance to go back yet, You asked the question in the right time, getting emotional. So , I miss everything there.
It’s a lot. My whole entire family is there. I just moved here with my husband, just myself growing up in a big family, like growing up with six sisters, two brothers. So we are pretty big family. And then moving here with my husband, I do have my in-laws here, which is a blessing. It’s like make it easier on me when having in-laws and it’s like you don’t feel like you are alone the first two years.
A lot of people like, it’s the most. Hard two years for me because nobody here, in my case, I do have my in-laws that help a lot. You don’t feel like you don’t have anybody around you until you start meeting people. So I really missed everything there. Funny story winter of 2012, moving from Palestine to here.
So in Palestine it didn’t snow at all. Like you don’t wake up in the winter and you find white everywhere. So I remember the first time it snows here in America. I was so excited and is like, Oh my god, I felt like a toddler or like a five years old who’s like saying the snow and amazing. I couldn’t handle not being outside for like almost two.
I start feeling it’s my, my hand or freezing, I need to go inside. So it’s a totally different, not just language, it’s a different culture, different people and different weather from Palestine. to here.
[00:40:40] David Crabill: When you moved over a decade ago, did you already speak English?
[00:40:46] Fawzeya Owda: Nope. I learned everything here.
[00:40:49] David Crabill: What was that transition like?
[00:40:51] Fawzeya Owda: Oh my god. Well, in Palestine, they teach us English, but not to be able to like conversation English. We just teach the alphabet and then how to build a sentence, how to read it. But it, I would say it’s a British English. But when I moved here I was like, Oh my. I understand some of it, but they’re talking so fast. I can’t. It took me, two years to get ahold really good with the language. The thing that helped me is, first of all, I took a class for three months and then it did help. But the main thing that helped a lot and when I’m, when I had my first baby, when I had my oldest, the thing that helped is library story times and then kids shows the shows that you have in tv.
That helped my language a lot.
[00:41:41] David Crabill: Well, I mean, it, it’s pretty amazing. I peruse through your Instagram feed and I could actually just see the progress of English just from one year to the next in your post. So I, I saw a post where you said that this is like your American dream. Can you expand on.
[00:42:02] Fawzeya Owda: Well, When I moved here, I heard a lot of it’s the land of opportunities and if you have any dreams, when you focus on it, it will work. So moving here to America dreaming. Having a business and then finally work to have that small business. It was like a dream for me at the beginning. It still it is a dream.
I was scrolling through my Instagram the other day and I was like, thinking about Foz when she was 12 years old, 10 years old, and now I would never, ever imagine myself as a baker. I know I love to cook and bake, but it was not as having it as a business. So it is an American dream because moving to America and starting this dream here, and it did work.
[00:42:57] David Crabill: So you feel like if you had never moved over, you wouldn’t have stirred a bakery in Palestine?
[00:43:04] Fawzeya Owda: No, No. In Palestine, I was more of I would say, I was like, when I finished high school, the thing that was like, I wanted really to study languages, so I would imagine me being a teacher of different language, maybe English, maybe French, but not a baker.
[00:43:25] David Crabill: As you look into the future, what are your goals for Fozbakery?
[00:43:30] Fawzeya Owda: I am dreaming to have a food truck, but just serve Fozbakery dessert, and have it many events. Maybe weddings. Yeah, that’s a dream.
[00:43:43] David Crabill: It’s pretty amazing what you have been able to build with this business so far, and I know you’re still on an upward trajectory. So if somebody would like to learn more about you where can they find you or how can they reach?
[00:43:58] Fawzeya Owda: Through my Facebook, Instagram, or my gmail account email@example.com.
[00:44:05] David Crabill: All right. Well, I’ll include links to those in the show notes, but thank you so much Fawzeya for coming on and sharing with us today.
[00:44:13] Fawzeya Owda: Thank you so much for having me.
[00:44:15] David Crabill: That wraps up another episode of the Forrager Podcast.
For more information about this episode, go to forrager.com/podcast/79.
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