Keeping spirits up during the pandemic has not been an easy task, especially for frontline healthcare workers. Many nurses have had to adjust to working in a fast-paced environment with little time for much else.
Owner of Ice Cream Cakes TT by Mayqueen, Afeisha Sanchez, however, has found a way to juggle her hectic life as a nurse at the Sangre Grande Enhanced Health Centre as well as her own business, which she started at the height of the pandemic. Although Sanchez said juggling both workloads has not been easy, she enjoys getting creative with her business just as much as she enjoys serving others as a nurse.
“Working during the pandemic (has been) so stressful,” said Sanchez. “Not so much the workload (but) working in a facility and screening positive patients. It is very scary.
“The public doesn’t want to adhere to rules and it makes it hard for us who work in the health facilities.”
She said nurses are accustomed to working under stressful conditions. “It was the fear of the unknown that was the issue we had at the health centres.”
Sanchez said last year a friend, who knew of her interest in baking, asked her to make her an ice-cream cake. “At the time, I was playing around with recipes. I made it and she liked it and I started to get orders from people in the health centre.”
She said she was pleasantly surprised by the interest in her skill and it encouraged her to do more. “At the time, there were not too many places that sold ice-cream cakes. I like to cook and experiment in the kitchen. I was on YouTube and I said to myself, ‘I can do this.’”
She said she started out buying the ice cream and adding it to the cakes which she baked herself but now she makes the ice cream herself as well.
“I Googled and YouTubed everything,” she joked. She said she tweaked many of the recipes she found to her liking. “It’s a small business so I can’t get all the ingredients I see in some of the recipes so I had to alter them using local ingredients to get what I wanted.”
Sanchez now produces a wide range of flavours including cookies and cream, salted caramel, strawberry cheesecake, piña colada, vanilla, chocolate and coconut.
“I used to have a waiting time of about three days for an order but now I can do an order overnight. Practise makes perfect.”
The mother of three said her eldest daughter, 14-year-old Amara Sanchez-Alverez, helps her with the business which makes juggling orders and the demands of her job much easier. Her daughter also helped her design the logo for the business.
“She helps whenever I’m making cakes. She’s my sous chef in the kitchen. Because of the hours I work, she also helps me make the ice cream and assists with deliveries as well.”
“This is a normal way of life for me. I don’t have many challenges.” Sanchez also works as a medic in the Defence Force aiding in the covid19 vaccination drive at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.
“I started nursing at the age of 19 and it has become a part of my life. I’ve always liked helping people. It has added value to my life.
“I like working in a fast-paced environment. My favourite place (to work) is accident and emergency which is why I went into the Defence Force. I always liked a challenge. I also like to control,” she said with a laugh.
“This is also why I like cooking. I don’t have to conform to the norm. I can adjust to suit my needs. Working in the military and nursing, I can follow that same structure in my business.”
Sanchez said she is looking forward to expanding her business and someday having a storefront to make her products a little more accessible to her customers. “I’m trying to get that before the year’s end. I also do party cups instead of cupcakes and other frozen desserts as well.”
She said she produces about five or six orders a week, with more orders rolling in around holidays.
She said she hasn’t had a bad review to date, which gives her the confidence to keep pushing. “I have a lot of regulars, some from the Sangre Grande area but most of my customers are from south.
“The last cake I delivered was to Debe. Every month that customer orders from me.”
She said she also hopes to see her cakes in Massy Stores one day. “That’s one of my goals, hopefully by the end of the year as well.”
Customers can call Sanchez at 750-7885 to place their orders or message icecreamcakes_tt on Instagram.