Haines baker’s business plan takes the cake | KHNS Radio

Estimated read time 4 min read

Every year the Path to Prosperity competition aims to reward businesses with a positive impact on Southeast Alaska. Businesses are judged based on their feasibility and their contribution to community development.

When her phone rang last week, Rebecca Kamaika’s first impulse was to ignore it.

Kamaika: “I was actually ignoring the phone call thinking it was Google asking me for money.”

She was pleasantly surprised when she answered. Kamaika is one of two winners of this year’s Path to Prosperity competition. The competition began ten years ago and has distributed over a half million dollars in prizes. Kameika, along with a Juneau woman who operates a mushroom farm, will receive $25K worth of business development assistance.

Kamaika: “They don’t deposit $25k in our bank accounts, they do something that is actually better because we don’t get taxed. They pay on our behalf. So we submit for approval things that we are wanting to buy, they approve it or not approve it, and they pay that vendor directly.”

Kamaika’s business is named Costa Brava – she prepares cakes for special events. The plan that won her the prize is to grow this into a restaurant. Her baked creations have become popular in Haines. So Kamaika thought:

Kamaika: “Maybe I could have some really great success on a larger scale, the idea was ‘hey, I want to do a tapas wine and dessert bar concept. So open a restaurant that would have tapas, so a lot of food from my childhood. I’m trying. And then doing wine, also local beer, and then still having the dessert option because that’s really what I’m most passionate about.”

Kamaika’s passion began early, but her path to the oven was round about.

Kamaika: “When I was a kid I always loved being in the kitchen, I really got into baking and I wanted to go to culinary school, but my father said ‘you need to go get a real degree first.’ So I went and got a degree in political science, and then I went and got my masters in business. And then I’ve worked for a few fortune 500 companies. And I just kind of lost touch with baking.”

During the pandemic, in need of a creative outlet, she started baking and selling cakes at the Haines farmer’s market. Her cakes quickly earned a reputation. Two years later she was too busy selling at the markets, with multiple orders for wedding cakes and batches of cookies for tour companies. She and her boyfriend rent two adjoining apartments. This has allowed her to dedicate her kitchen to baking. She is able to conduct her business predominantly from this space.

Kamaika: “I don’t put any ‘normal’ food quotes in that area, so it makes it easier. But I do need to expand.”

She wanted to buy a restaurant in Skagway. But the cost is prohibitive so she is looking for other options.

Kamaika: “There is a restaurant that’s for sale in Skagway that I’ve based my business plan around, although in order to make that work, everything going in, purchasing the building, initial operating costs, cash flow needs, any fixes to the building, things like that, and additional equipment, I need about $600k in lending. You know doing that analysis was great, and I do love that space but also I’m hoping that maybe there is a space for rent. Because it would be really ideal to go into renting a space and not taking on so much debt initially in order to make it happen.”

Kamaika says she wants to keep serving Haines, but the number of summer visitors in Skagway would allow her to make enough to stay open the rest of the year. She would be able to send wedding cakes on a plane or a boat.

Her success took customers and Kamaika wants to thank all the people who have bought her creations since she started.

Kamaika: “Oh, and I want to think, hmmm, my boyfriend for dealing with me at 2 am over a wedding cake that I think I messed up and he’s telling me it’s beautiful. So there is that too.”

Kameika will use her $25,000 prize money to buy a large mixer, a fryer and other kitchen equipment. You can see her creations on her website, costabravaalaska.com

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