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When starting a small business is a leap of faith

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Cathy Layoun turned a short-term COVID cure into her new dessert shop Pancake Pleasures in Enfield. Photos: George Al-Akiki
Cathy Layoun turned a short-term COVID cure into her new dessert shop Pancake Pleasures in Enfield. Photos: George Al-Akiki

With the cost of doing business rising and the aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic still felt by many small business owners, young Catholics starting their own businesses are calling on God and his saints to help get their new ventures off the ground.

In the days leading up to the Assumption in 2023, Cathy Layoun opened the doors of her new dessert shop Pancake Pleasures in Enfield, turning a short-term COVID cure into a full-time venture.

With a year left in her business/finance degree, in 2020 Cathy was let go by her part-time job and found herself with plenty of free time on her hands.

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She set up her dessert business on Instagram, which took off instantly. By Father’s Day 2021 she was catering for close to 100 orders a day, and had a decision to make.

“I could see everyone my age starting their careers and all I was doing was making pancakes,” she said.

“That bit of doubt began creeping in.”

In the end, Cathy’s father helped her realise her dream could be a reality.

“He said what I was doing was making him proud, and he could see me growing on this journey.”

Before placing an offer for a lease on her Enfield shop, Cathy prayed for Mary to intercede.

“The very next day, the offer was accepted,” she said.

“After that it was a no brainer—all the (pancake) balls were in my court, and I just had to take a leap of faith.”

Cathy attributes the success to her family and their Marian dedication, saying it’s no coincidence the shop’s important moments have coincided with her feasts and celebrations.

“It was actually in the month of Mary in May that we made all those first sales and blew up,” she said.

“Now, mum tells me it’s because I prayed to Mary that we’ve been gifted with this opportunity.”

Podiatrist Charbel Dagher took a leap of faith to open his own practice. Photos: George Al-Akiki
Podiatrist Charbel Dagher took a leap of faith to open his own practice. Photos: George Al-Akiki

Former makeup artist Amanda Gerges similarly took matters into her own hands after COVID left her without work.

She decided to make the most of the situation and started a business designing personalised gifts for weddings and special occasions called Lima Rose Creations.

The crafty 26-year-old had grown up watching and helping her mother make personalised mementos for guests from her and her siblings’ communions, christenings, and confirmations.

She turned to the patron saint of embroiderers, St Rose of Lima, for additional inspiration.

“I just had that mentality of going all in, and now because of that I get to do this full time,” Amanda said.

The journey hasn’t been without its trials, but she says all things have a way of resolving themselves.

“Getting people to take you seriously was one of the hardest parts of it,” said Amanda.

“I’ve just tried to always go into this by praying to St Rose and trusting God, and that if this his plan, then I can make it work, which it has so far.”

Podiatrist Charbel Dagher was until recently working two jobs in administration and as a podiatrist’s assistant, before he took a similar leap of faith to open his own practice.

The 25-year-old has always been interested in helping other people with the same foot afflictions he experienced at a young age and felt it was time to forge his own path with FITS Podiatry.

Though the mobile podiatry business aims to “fit” into the schedules of its clients, he told The Catholic Weekly that the name has another added meaning.

“It importantly also stands for Footprints in the Sand, the allegorical poem where God carries the protagonist through their difficult times in life,” he said.

“My call to the industry came from a place of service—I was in pain, and someone helped me.

“Now I believe it’s my turn to serve those around me and help in any way I can.”

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