|Q & A with Candice Ramsubag Sinanan Owner of Fairy Cakes! |
Sunday, March 12 2017
Candice Ramsubag Sinanan is an entrepreneur and the owner of Fairy Cakes!, an online cakery that provides delectable delights available by special order.
An English, Literature, and Communication Studies teacher by profession, Candice taught at two girls’ school for three years. However, unable to access a permanent position at the institutions, she decided to spread her wings in a new direction.
“I left teaching to open an all-day breakfast café called Amour Et Café,” she says of the new path her professional life took, adding that she feels at home in the kitchen creating new and exciting meals. Amour Et Café was a highly successful venture, says the entrepreneur, which included weekly open mic events and occasional art exhibitions, but due to unforeseen circumstances, she had to close her doors.
“However, my cake selection was still in demand so I started Fairy Cakes! as an online business and by order-only,” she says of the new form her business took. “I don’t consider any of my ventures failures, they were just ladders taking me to where I need to be.”
Apart from her entrepreneurship, Candice is also an advocate for the rights of women and girls and is part of the “Yes She Can” initiative, a movement started to promote health and wellness as part of the holistic growth and empowerment of women and girls. She also engages in charity work with her husband’s company, Green House Events, geared towards the betterment and upliftment of children from marginalised schools and communities.
Today, Candice talks to WMN about what it’s like to be “the boss”, the charity work she and her husband partake in, the struggles women and girls must still endure in today’s society, and the ways she believes we can move forward in positivity.
Q What does it mean to be your own boss and a woman?
Being my own boss is the absolute best feeling. It is as challenging as it is rewarding, and as a woman it is extremely empowering. I answer to myself therefore I am accountable only to myself so I make me the best version of me.
Q How would you describe your personal work towards the empowerment of women and girls?
I talk, and I talk a lot. I talk to everyone whether they’re listening or not. I am very vocal specifically about the empowerment of women and the protection of our children. I have three younger sisters so I also lead by example, and encourage them to do the same and speak out. I haven’t attached myself to an NGO but I do have the hope of doing something myself and starting a movement soon; an effective movement.
Q Do you believe the protection of women and girls is everyone’s responsibility?
I do believe that the protection of women and girls is everyone’s responsibility. However, I do think that women need to support and protect each other more than they do right now. We need to be each other’s keeper and we need to revert to the days of “taking a village to raise a child.” Likewise, there is strength in numbers so our support for each other will raise awareness and encourage our men to become accountable and responsible for the women around them.
Q You are involved in charity work through the event company, Green House Events. Can you tell us about some of this work?
Most of our charity work has been centred in our home area; Central Trinidad, and focused entirely on children. We have upgraded children’s homes under the Fairy House Project (when Fairy Cakes! met Green House, see what we did there?) by collecting and donating household items that are basic necessities for us but luxuries to them, e.g. shampoo, body lotion, blankets, pillows, hairbrushes, and cleaning supplies. We have also given one home a facelift already by painting the rooms and making it more whimsical and we are aiming to do more. There’s one home that we’re targeting this year to do some extensive work on.
We had also teamed up with One Love Trinidad last year and sponsored Christmas wishes for some of the children of a specific primary school, and this year we have bigger plans in mind in terms of providing aid, such as basic school supplies, to all the children of another primary school who are in need.
All our charity is done through our remarkable committee members who personally donate and give of their time.
Q In your opinion, what other work is necessary for the empowerment and betterment of our marginalised groups in TT, including women?
I don’t think that our laws are geared towards the empowerment and protection of women at all. As such, the treatment of women by those in authority and even our protective services is enormously sub-par. Just imagine that now, in 2017, we have only just now made child marriage illegal. So we have now made children off-limits. Only. Just. Now. The work of NGOs and Women’s Groups is not to be discredited but change has to begin with the leaders and the law of the land first, so any form of protest needs to have an operative solution in mind. What is the change that we want? How do we get it?
Q What unique challenges do you believe women and girls face in 2017? What issues do you believe deserve more credence and attention from our governing bodies and citizenry alike?
I don’t think any of the challenges that we face today are “unique” because we have been facing these for years. However, the issue of safety is the most pertinent currently. Why is it that our women and children are missing? Since January 2 more than ten of our citizens have gone missing, almost all under 18 years old. Am I the only one who sees a pattern?
Look at the horrendous crimes being carried out against our girls, wasn’t one enough to create a call to action? Why are school girls being constantly sexually harassed by our men? It is traumatising enough for grown women, how do you think it is for them? No matter what we wear or where we go, the harassment is constant and women have become afraid. Plus, this victim-blaming - this constant victim-blaming - leaves women feeling so powerless, especially when it comes from other women. This is why we need to support each other and as a result stand up for each other and protect each other.
Q Can you tell us about your work with Yes She Can and why the initiative and movement are important to you?
I absolutely love Yes She Can because it gave me myself back! Yes She Can promotes the wellness of women though physical activity, healthy eating and self-care. Three things that I believe form the key to self-empowerment. Joining this movement has definitely led me to make a lifestyle change that did not even start with significant adjustments. It just made me put myself before anything else, and being an entrepreneur, business is supposed to come first so this was an important decision that had to be made. And I didn’t lose my sight on my success, nor did business falter. I just became a person again. In fact, I created a line of healthier cupcakes inspired by Yes She Can!
Also, I am extremely excited to be a part of the Yes She Can Women In Wellness Conference on March 25, at Acropolis Commercial Center, San Fernando because sharing this knowledge with other women will definitely help them move closer to their personal goals of happier living. I truly believe in sisterhood and I cannot stress enough on women supporting women, something that Yes She Can totally embraces.
Q What about the strengths women possess in face of endless hardship and prejudice? What do you have to say
A woman’s strength knows no bounds. It amazes me daily how women still exist after the hardships that they face. I have heard the most life changing stories and seen for myself some of the things that women go through and I am mind blown. Women are underestimated even though their ability to survive is blatant.
When we see these stories of prejudice every day and we see that the woman is still present and carrying on with her life… this is strength. We have heard the stories of women being assaulted and suffering great tragedies, but why haven’t we heard about their survival and how they overcame these things? These stories will be so inspirational. It is time to promote positivity amidst all the negativity.
Q And what about your own strengths, whether you started with them or have gained them along the way?
I have always been very strong-minded and independent and I have always been very kind. I have learnt through business relations to be firm and not get taken advantage of, but also to be lenient in the hopes that my compassion will rub off on others. My life experiences further taught me to be accountable for myself and for others. I have always had empathy which I think is my strongest quality.
So, although life pushes you down and kicks you, it is ok and it happens to everyone, so let us surpass this and move on. Let us use our struggle to fuel our success. I have fallen many times and I will fall again in the future. I look forward to it.