Because of my book, I’ve found myself in the company of talented Memphis makers several times at pop shops and holiday markets. It was at one of these events that I stumbled upon Nuha Abuduhair and her business 17 Berkshire. From her packaging to the specialty items themselves, Nuha’s too-pretty-to-eat baked goods are impeccable. Okay, confession time… even though it was a shame to eat such gorgeous chocolates as the ones I purchased from Nuha, they were very much enjoyed!
From a young age Nuha was baking with her mother. During nursing school this activity served as a delicious release from the everyday stresses. After leaving nursing to be at home with her two young children, Nuha returned to her tried-and-true stress relieving baking habit. Little did she know at the time that it would turn into a business! Named after her childhood home address, 17 Berkshire is a custom order bakery that specializes in European-style desserts and chocolates. Nuha’s passion lies in creating pretty treats that the eye enjoys just as much as the stomach. Here, Nuha shares what it’s like to be businesswoman and mom all at the same time!
When did you know that you wanted to call the shots?
It was kind of a spur of the moment “Let’s do this!” decision. I had just collaborated with a handful of amazing Memphis creatives on a styled shoot we would be submitting to a magazine. I was on a high from the creative fulfillment that collaboration gave me. It happened to be around my birthday, so I was writing my goals and aspirations for that year and I decided I wanted to take my baking seriously. I signed up for “The Urban Barn Market” (totally expecting them to deny my vendor application) and they welcomed me with open arms. The response I had there gave me a bit more confidence and a hunger to push forward. It’s funny because, on the way to the first day of the market I told my husband to never let me do something this crazy again. Ha!I was on a high from the creative fulfillment that collaboration gave me. Click To Tweet
Why this business?
I was previously a nurse at Lebonheur and decided to stay home with my kids after the birth of our second child. I was having a hard time adjusting to the realities of “Stay at home Mom life” and I would turn to baking as my outlet. To my disbelief, I started getting baking requests. It’s kind of funny because looking back my nursing degree and baking always went hand in hand. After exams I would have a list of things I was excited to bake during vacation. Then, after I graduated I bought myself a KitchenAid mixer as a graduation gift to myself!
What’s your typical day like?
I try and wake up before my kids ( ages 1 and 2) and squeeze in a quick workout. After that I post to my Instagram and Facebook pages, respond to e-mails, and juggle breakfast and mornings with the kids. Around 12, I’ll put them down for a nap and try and tackle baking and cake decorating. When they wake up, we have lunch and I try and get back to work while they play. Somewhere in there I’m cleaning house, doing laundry, and cooking dinner (usually all at the same time!) I turn off for a bit when my husband comes home, but then get right back at it when the kids are in bed. I usually go to sleep past midnight. There’s a lot of hustling in this house – but I absolutely love it.
What’s the best decision you ever made that moved your business forward?
Signing up for “The Urban Barn Market!” I have met so many wonderful people there that I now consider friends and got exposed to so many Memphians who want to see their city reach its’ full potential. It’s incredible! I love being part of that renaissance.
What’s a growing pain you’ve experienced in your business?
Aghhhh there aren’t enough hours in the day! It’s hard being a mom to two young babes and running a professional business at the same time. It gets crazy when the two collide – like order pick ups where my babes are jumping at my feet while I’m trying to hand over a cake. [Laughing] It makes for an interesting experience!It's hard being a mom to two young babes & running a professional business at the same time. Click To Tweet
What was the biggest change in your business this year?
I’m slowly adding an online shop to the business. It’ll be an extension of the 17 Berkshire aesthetic where you can find items that beautify your everyday. I think we need to focus on loving ourselves more and not being afraid to indulge a little bit.I think we need to focus on loving ourselves more and not being afraid to indulge a little bit. Click To Tweet
What are you most excited about right now for your business?
It’s only the beginning, so I feel like my options are endless! There’s definitely a stress that comes with treading new waters and making sure I stay true to myself, my family, and my brand, but I’m thankful that these opportunities are presenting themselves.
What’s your favorite thing about Mondays?
That I don’t have to feel guilty about working! I try and unplug when my husband is home, but my mind is constantly thinking about e-mails and catching up on baking. When Monday rolls around, I am excited to get back to the hustle of it all!When Monday rolls around, I am excited to get back to the hustle of it all! Click To Tweet
I think from the outside in, it looks like 17 Berkshire is this overnight success story. Truthfully, it was a direct result of “unsuccessful” business ventures and a time in my life that was pretty challenging on a lot of fronts. There’s still a lot of doubt if it’s all worth it, because like I’ve mentioned, I have two young kids, a husband, and family who are always #1 on my list. There’s a lot of sacrifice, but thankfully I have a lot of people who encourage me and support this journey.There's a lot of sacrifice, but thankfully I have a lot of people who encourage me... Click To Tweet