Today we’d like to introduce you to Lakisha Rahman.
Hi Lakisha, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Hey Sugahs! My name is Lakisha (KiKi) Rahman, the Bean Scientist and owner of KiKi’s Cuisine. I was born and raised in Baltimore City, graduated from Western High School (Hey Doves), and am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Central State University. I am the mother of two amazing adult sons and Ga-Ga to one grandson, who steals my heart daily. I want to thank GOD because he guides my life and my business. I am nothing without Him. I would also like to thank Voyage Baltimore for the opportunity to share my story.
I started baking bean pies in 2004 when my sons were young. They were getting to the point where they always wanted dessert – snack cakes, cupcakes, donuts, etc. As a mother, you want better for your children, and knowing my struggles with food, I had to find an alternative. This was really when KiKi’s Cuisine was conceived. She would not come to full term until 2019, though.
I started baking pies for the family and quickly became the holiday pie baker for family members and close friends. Whenever my boys would ask for dessert, I would offer them a slice of delicious, homemade bean pie. They did not know at the time that it was healthy. All they saw was PIE.
Fast forward to 2019, my husband and I wanted to start a business to supplement our incomes and retire me. This was when we birthed KiKi’s Cuisine. Since launching in 2019, our menu has grown from just bean pies to cakes, and we are now entering the realm of treats (chocolate-covered strawberries, cookies, etc.)
Our motto is “you wouldn’t know you were eating beans if we didn’t tell you.” The navy bean is incorporated into every dessert that we bake. I encourage all my customers to study the science of the navy bean, and I also give them an info card highlighting some of its health benefits. Remember, health was the motivator initially, and while I am now a business owner, I never want to lose that foundation. All our desserts are scratch-made, preservative-free, even down to our pie crust. We control what goes into our desserts. We pride ourselves on using only the best ingredients because our customers deserve the best!
In the future, our goal is to have a brick-and-mortar location right here in the city that raised me. Good, wholesome food is our birthright, and we cannot wait to share our gifts with the world.
Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
There have been several struggles along the way. The first and I guess the good problem is that 3 months into starting, we had outgrown our first commercial kitchen space and had to move to a bigger location. Everything was going great until the big C word came onto the scene. As we celebrated our first business anniversary (March 14, 2020), the world was preparing for a shutdown (March 16, 2020). We had introduced a snippet of our catering menu to our party attendees and were ready to pivot in that direction, and everything stopped. It was devastating. Thankfully, I grew up knowing how to make a dollar out of fifteen cents because my savings sustained the business through Covid. We were blessed to get some grants and funding assistance during the shutdown. Those did not go far. BUT GOD!!! Only by His grace and mercy are we still standing today. Every day is a challenge but knowing that I am living and walking in my purpose makes the pain bearable.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
As mentioned above, KiKi’s Cuisine started so that I could retire from my good government job. I have been employed by the State of Maryland since 1999, and my time has been well spent, but it is time to transition. Our employers are our biggest investors because we use what is left from our paychecks to fund our dreams. I am thankful that for 23 years, they invested in my dream. It is now time to fully devote my time to the growth of my legacy, KiKi’s Cuisine.
Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
There will always be a need for desserts. Trends come and go but what is sustainable is mastering the basics and holding to the foundation of your business. I mentioned earlier that I am doing chocolate-covered treats now as an addition to my cake and pie menu. This industry is ever-growing and is here to stay. This pivot will launch me into the events space where KiKi’s will be your one-stop shop for all things dessert.