A young bakery hopes to be the sweet heart of this community

For Hana Yohannes, owner of Shikorina Pastries, the best part of baking is the community building that comes from sharing something she’s baked from scratch.

“Bringing people together is what excites me the most about this business,” Yohannes said on a recent sunny afternoon while sitting in the front room of the purple house that houses his bakery, the windows lined with plants.

Yohannes was a 2019 graduate of the Pastry Project, a program providing free baking and pastry training to people with educational barriers. The program also helps with placement after graduation. Before entering the program, Yohannes had only prepared a few things from scratch.

“It was all boxed mixes and pre-packaged cookie dough,” she said. She was working in physician relations and business strategy development at Seattle Children’s, and then she heard about the Pastry Project.

“I tried so many different things; I couldn’t really find what really interested me. So I’m really glad I found the Pastry Project; they helped me start this business.

After graduating, Yohannes worked at Hello Robin, a cookie shop in the University District and Capitol Hill, for a few months, baking on her own and posting photos of cookies and cakes on Instagram and dreaming of owning his own business “one day, years in the future.

Then, in June 2021, she found an adorable home — full of honeywood windows and floors, with a seating area large enough to host events — in the Central District; the stars aligned, and after raising over $18,000 via a GoFundMe, Yohannes opened Shikorina Pastries — “shikorina” is an endearment term meaning “sweetie” in Tigrinya.

She sells an ever-changing list of take-out-only sweets — slices of cake, solid banana bread sprinkled with pumpkin seeds, fudge brownies, strawberry puff pies and more. Her favorite right now is the Lemon Poppyseed Muffin.

She describes the neighborhood as having a “small-town vibe”, and although she was initially nervous about opening in a community that seemed so tight-knit, “it disappeared very quickly”.

“Everyone was so welcoming and supportive. We are surrounded by so many other amazing businesses owned by black people or gay people; the people are amazing,” she said.

And although she has yet to open the bakery to sit inside – she is wary of the number of coronavirus cases and still has some minor renovations to complete in what will be the bakery’s dining room — she says the satisfaction felt from sharing her baked goods with the community will be “10 times better when COVID is over and we can open indoors.”