Celebrating Local Black Talent Series
Small Black Owned Business Feature
Name: Corey T. Smith
Affiliation: Goodwin alumnus
Business Name: FikaSuray
Business Type: Personal chef
Year Founded: 2019
Who We Are & What We Do…
FikaSuray is a personal chef company that is set out to have customers take a moment to slow down and enjoy the good things in life, especially food. We offer in home dining services for romantic dinners, small gatherings, private dining and pop-ups and personal chef services.
How We Started and Where We Are Now…
I started cooking back in 2013. I naturally enjoy cooking but was nudged by my grandmother to pursue cooking as a career and not just a hobby. After she tried some of my food, she said, “You are really good at what you do. Why not share your talent with everyone?” And that’s how Chef CT Smith was born. I only recently changed the name of my company to FikaSuray. Most people know me as Chef CT. I wanted to become a personal chef a few years ago, and this is my first year actually offering in home, private dining services. I plan to expand over the next two years and offer my services in other states, so that would make me more of a traveling personal chef.
What Inspired Me to Start This Venture…
I was inspired by my kids. I wanted to do something they would be proud of as well as something that was unique within my community. We don’t see many black personal chefs in inner cities, so I thought it would be a good way to demonstrate something different to my own kids and to other kids in the community. Having a personal chef is considered a “luxury”, so my customers say they feel very fancy once we sit down for our consultation. It’s a different vibe for many and something they haven’t experienced before, and this is exactly what I wanted to accomplish when I started my business plan.
What Makes Me Feel Empowered…
I feel empowered by being one of the very few black personal chefs in my area.
What I Love Most About What I Do…
I love seeing people enjoy my food. Silence while eating is a very good sign that my customers are enjoying every bite. After they finish up, I receive the best compliments about my food and cooking. It’s the most wonderful feeling to get a call, text or post on social media about how much they loved what I provided.
Misconceptions I Have Faced as a Black Business Owner…
From my personal experience, I think that one misconception is that as a black business, we are charging too much. I have had quite a few people ask for special discounts, etc., but this isn’t something they would ask a larger or more well-known company to do.
Challenges I Have Encountered…
One challenge I have faced is keeping myself relevant and making sure that I am keeping myself and my brand on people’s minds when they think about food. At the moment, I am just trying to stay afloat. When money is tight, it can be a struggle to plan or do certain things that I would like to do for my business. The setbacks come and go.
What We Celebrate…
FikaSuray celebrates being a black owned business, unity and togetherness. We want to work with everyone and help our community as much as possible.
What Being a Black Business Owner Means to Me…
Being a black business owner means everything to me. It’s amazing to know that I own something that is my “baby”… something I have watched grow. My hope is to be able to pass the business along to my son or daughter. Being a black business owner also gives me a sense of independence and control. I know that if I put in the work, I can enjoy the benefits and don’t have to depend on anyone else for money, etc. I plan. I lead. I am FikaSuray.
How I Hope to Inspire Others:
My hope is to inspire other up and coming chefs to venture out and open their own businesses. So many talented chefs in our community work for big name restaurants and put in so much work that could be going toward their own brand. They can definitely be making their own name for themselves.
My Message to Potential Black Business Owners…
My message…Bet on yourself. You control the narrative in your story. If you put in the work, you will achieve any and everything you have ever wanted.
Business Contact Information
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.