Je T’Aime Patisserie: A Parisian-Style Bakery Thrives with Help from Pursuit

Jatee Kearsley, owner of the Parisian-style bakery, Je T’aime Patisserie

“Well-meaning people tell you that business ownership is a lot of risk and work,” says Jatee Kearsley, owner of the Parisian-style bakery, Je T’aime Patisserie, in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. “And it definitely is. But when you have the opportunity to build a business that you love in your community, what could be better than that?”

Here’s how Jatee created a thriving bakery with help from a New York City Opportunity Fund loan and business consulting services from Pursuit.

A temporary opportunity leads to a life-changing pivot

Jatee had worked in restaurants for years before the opportunity to try professional baking arose. “At one of the restaurants, the pastry chef left suddenly. I helped cover that work,” she explains, “and I fell in love with it. But the manager wouldn’t let me stay in that role, so I found another job where I could learn about baking. That was back in 2014.”

Jatee worked in wholesale and specialty bakeries and spent countless hours watching YouTube videos, testing recipes, and perfecting techniques at home. Soon, she was selling her baked goods to adoring customers at farmers’ and artisan markets.

With encouragement from family and friends, she moved forward with her dream. “I formalized the business in 2021, but I didn’t open the patisserie until 2023,” Jatee says, “in part, because I still listened to people who said it’d be too much work. But I finally realized that it was more exhausting to put my time, creativity, and passion into building someone else’s success than it would be to take a chance on myself.”

Securing financing to build her dream bakery

Jatee says she received insight about next steps through her deep faith.

“I asked for guidance about what to do and the answer I got was, ‘Apply for a loan!,’” Jatee says, adding that this was the first time she’d ever applied, simply because she didn’t think she’d be approved. She started her search through the New York Small Business Development Center at York College/City University of New York. Her results included Pursuit and soon, she was in touch with Managing Vice President Paola Garcia.

“Working with Paola was great. Initially, I was going to apply for an SBA 7(a) loan,” Jatee explains. “As I was getting the information together, Paola suggested also exploring the NYC Small Business Opportunity Fund loan, because it had so many benefits for small business owners, including additional consulting services. Paola really took the time to understand me and my business goals and her advice was spot-on. It was exactly what I needed.”

Jatee says that the application process was streamlined but, because it was a new experience, it wasn’t without some challenges.

“I’d occasionally get stumped, but Paola and my Pursuit team were always ready to help. And I just had to remind myself that I have never owned a business before and I had never applied for a loan before. Once I had the awareness that all of this wasn’t difficult or hard, it was just new to me, the whole process got easier.” With her loan funds, Jatee renovated the bakery to make it her dream space for her customers and her team.

Financing a business and gaining so much more

“I’m a recipient of Pursuit’s Business Advisory Services and it has made a world of difference,” Jatee says. “When you have employees, you have to do things right, but you only know so much because it’s all new. One of my Pursuit team members, Malini Krishna, partnered me with Liberty Employment Solutions, who worked with me for several months. They helped me create an employee handbook, standards, formulas, and role descriptions. They were really attentive to my needs as a small business owner and elevated what had been a weak spot to something that’s tailored exactly to my business.”

In addition to running the business, Jatee maintains her role as lead baker and has two front-line employees who take care of customers, as well as interns that she’s mentoring on bakery life and business ownership. Together, they serve favorites like their specialty croissants, vegan lemon loaf with hibiscus glaze, and sea-salt chocolate-chip cookies. Looking ahead, Jatee plans on expanding offerings in the bakery and, someday, adding a café.

“I will absolutely go back to Pursuit for funding,” Jatee says. “I loved my whole experience. Pursuit tailored the financing and advisory services to meet me where I am and support my success. I tell people all the time, ‘Go to Pursuit!’”

Pursuit has loans and resources that support small business success

With loan options from $10,000 to $5.5 million, Pursuit can help you get the financing for working capital, the purchase or construction of commercial real estate, to refinance business debt and much more. Take a look at more than 15 small business loan programs and our line of credit, then contact us to learn about how we can help you, too.

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