Guyanese Immigrant Renate Moore is an author, speaker and an entrepreneur who went from writing children’s books to creating a cafe then moved on to the health and wellness part with a cookbook. She grew that into online cooking classes when COVID started and has developed that into a line of healthy herbs and spices . She also has been a speaker at many health and wellness conferences.
Knowing that the food industry can be confusing, Renate enjoys helping people to connect better with it. She has done this as an author through her cookbook titled Just Eat – Pure & Simple Cooking .
She came to the US as a young naive 21 year old and 35 years later has some words of advice for fellow immigrant women
You have to be smart in the decisions you make and look for the opportunities and place yourself with like-minded people.
[00:00:00] Renate: Do not compare yourself to other women and look for what may seem to be their successes. Work on your own. And that’s what I would say. So it’s to have the opportunity now. So it’s do able.
[00:00:18] Paula: Welcome to chatting with the experts, a podcast where immigrant women from Africa, immigrant women from the Caribbean as well, who have relocated to the UK and the US and Canada. In this podcast, we talk about our struggles because I’m an immigrant woman. And we also highlight the triumph that we have experienced while living abroad. We also share resources and experiences that we know our fellow immigrant sisters can benefit from. My guest today is my Caribbean sister Renate Moore, who lives and works in North Carolina, which is in the US. I’ve known Renate for some years, I want to say about five years. But we finally have had a chance to get together on this podcast and talk about our experiences. In fact, I’ll let her talk about her experiences on coming to the United States. So Renate, I keep saying that, I mean if you have listened. If you have listened to Renate and my behind the scenes video or watched it you’ll notice that I struggled between calling her Renate and Renata and you’ll know why. So maybe I should make that a challenge. Renate, tell us all about yourself, why you came to the states and about your formal education and welcome to “Chatting with the Experts”.
[00:01:44] Renate: Thank you, Paula. Thank you so much for inviting me to be on your awesome podcast. I’m pleased to be your guest today and I can be Renata or I can be Renate today with you. It’s all good, I love the behind the scenes. Oh my goodness me. Well to answer your, some of the questions that you were just covering and talking about. Which one do you want me to start with first? Why I came to the United States or a little bit about me?
[00:02:16] Paula: Tell us a bit about yourself, yes.
[00:02:18] Renate: I’ll give you a little bit about myself. Yes. So I am a very innovative person ambitious, kind and caring and I like to help people. And I know I get that from my parents and passionate about learning new things. So growing up in Guyana, I was always thinking I had, my intentions where I’d love to become either a veterinarian because I love animals, lawyer, or a doctor. But it so happened that I ended up doing quite the opposite because I went to school and I had my degrees and background in business science that’s as far as I had in Guyana. Because you know, back in the eighties, It wasn’t as how we have so much technology and opportunities as the climate we’re living in right now. So my parents, they’ve always been very passionate about making sure my brother and I have as much education as we can. And they have always done their best to make sure we had that. So as we got older, they would encourage us to always be striving for more and reaching for our dreams. So the reason for migrating to the United States was because of exploring and gaining opportunities to make our lives. And that is how, when I was 21 years old, a few days later is when I got into a plane, boarded the plane and headed to New York because that’s where I was for all my while until few years ago when we, my now family and I relocated to North Carolina. So my, all majority of my education, my formal education were from Guyana. And in those days it was the British education because it was British Guyana many years ago before independence. But we had a different type of learning, which was a challenge for me when I came to the United States, because a lot of the methods we used in school were completely different from the methods used in the colleges over here. But what I did when I came to the United States was I said, okay, where am I going to go from there? Because I landed here and this is me now building my life and exploring all the opportunities I have. So some of the things I did for jobs, and I think that’s what made me who I am today, was I never thought that any job was beyond me. And so because of the difference in education and the qualifications, it was a little difficult getting into corporate jobs right away. Because they weren’t recognizing those skills and certifications I had from Guyana. And so what I did was, again as I said, nothing was beyond me. So instead I just looked for jobs that were available, that I can make some money and put myself through the American education. And I did things like babysitting, housekeeping and save my money, and was able to then pay for classes as I could move to the next level I would like to go to. I did a lot of self-taught education as well, went to the library because internet wasn’t readily available then. So I did a lot of that and a lot of studies. I went to classes and took a GED so that I can get into the access, into the colleges. Because you had to have that, that was part of the requirement before you can even take the exams to get into the colleges. And here’s the other thing I did where that was different from a lot, that many people probably did or would have done. Whatever my salary allowed is what I paid for semesters. And I ended up, I call it today, I did college hopping because this way it allowed me to explore the different areas of my curiosity. So for example, I went to the school of visual arts, because I love arts, and I thought, well maybe if I go there, then I can work in marketing or something to do with design. So I took one semester there. Then again, when money allowed, I went to John Jay college of criminal justice, got a little bit of what I yearned for in the legal field. And then finally I went to Borough of Manhattan, community college, and I stayed there for a bit longer because I could have afforded the community college costs and that’s where I did my course in. Liberal arts. So although I don’t have one American degree in one industry, I would like to know that what I gained from all of the different things and backgrounds that I’ve explored, it made me so much wiser and I have a broad knowledge of the different types of fields that are out there. And today that has actually helped me in both my personal and business life. I get to teach my children on how to survive in the real world. As they would say, it’s one thing to have all the degrees, but you need to be street smart as well. And yeah, I came from Guyana into New York, so right there and then you had to learn to survive. And then all of the skills and knowledge I picked up from the other places I was able to apply to other jobs, and I moved on. And I first started working as a receptionist at a real estate company, and they said I was very good with my customer service personality and my connection with people. And they encouraged me to study and be a realtor and, you know, explore that. I tried that for a bit, but it’s not really my thing. So eventually I moved on from there and one of my desires was to work on wall street. So I moved on to that. And after I got married and started my own family, I had an opportunity for a wonderful job at the Institute of international education, which is next to the United nations building. And there I worked my way up and worked there until we moved to North Carolina when my husband’s job relocated here. So when I moved down here, I could not find a job. It was very hard despite all the resumes I sent out and I asked for help and a lot of promises from our realtor fell through. They said they would help me find a job and they never kept that promise. So my intention was not to be an entrepreneur, Paula, but the circumstances brought that out in me. Because after a lot of frustration and disappointment, I decided, you know what, I’m going to open, create my own door and open it. And that’s when I took all the knowledge, the skills and everything I’ve picked up over the years and I decided I’m going to start a business, but what is this business going to be? Well, I’ve always loved education and writing, and I thought I’d write children’s books and focus on literacy.
[00:10:50] Paula: And that’s when I met you, when you were writing those books. Yes.
[00:10:54] Renate: Yes, exactly, exactly. That’s when you met me. And I wrote my first children’s book around the experiences of change and my stories are told in a fun way, because you need to capture the attention of children. And I know there is a lack of reading in our environment right now. Everything is digital, the attention span is not there. So I was trying to bring back some of those important skills. Because when you’re so distracted you cannot focus, when you cannot focus that causes a lot of setbacks. And I’ve seen it with some of my children’s friends. They had a hard time concentrating on focusing on certain things. But anyway, so I started writing the children’s book and in the midst of doing that, I had applied to do a course with Institute of children’s literature in Connecticut. And I applied, I got in and I did the course with them. And during that time I started to develop manuscripts, and that’s when I decided to publish one of the stories. Because I thought it would be a good setting for a lot of kids, especially when they have to leave, it’s getting used to change and facing challenges. Some of it is my experiences moving from New York to North Carolina, trying to get acclimated the challenges I faced. But I told it through animals. And the reason for doing that through the animals is so that I could also tell a little bit about the purpose animals serve in our ecosystem. So I built a read on Lauren bingo set around that book. One book led to another children’s book, a mystery picnic on stone mountain. And eventually I was working on a third book and suddenly this whole thing started about friends, family, strangers love my food. And every time they taste, cause I used to have a lot of social events, or some of my friends would ask me to do their catering for them. And I did that for fun. And when I realized that there was a request for what I have and what I can do, they would, they’re the ones who said, you really need to write a recipe book, you really need to write a recipe book. And so, I thought one day, you know what, maybe I will. And I decided this. So here I was, I’m going to back up a little bit because I started the business with lady Ray bakery and books. And the idea is to have the children’s books because I love baking people enjoy those as well.
[00:13:43] Paula: Okay, so i’m going to stop you here for one second, because I’m hearing so much about one person from one person and I’m like amazed. Because I met you, you know, as you were speaking I was like, so when did I meet her? So I met you when you were in that stage of writing children’s books. And you were saying that as you wrote those books you met people along the way who were like, I’ve heard about your cooking skills and so why don’t you write a recipe book for children? Is that what you saying?
[00:14:15] Renate: No, no, no, not the recipe book for children. That’s a complete different genre. Recipe book for everyday cooking, so grownups. So not the children’s book recipe.
[00:14:29] Paula: Okay, got you there so. Go ahead, go ahead, your story is fascinating.
[00:14:34] Renate: Oh, well thank you. I yeah, I think sometimes because, and that’s why I’m enjoying our conversation today is to let anyone out there who is listening know that it doesn’t mean you cannot try new things. Because as long as it ties into what you’re doing, it will flow easily. Because again, I started out the intention was sort of a cafe online and it was supposed to be children’s books and baked goods. But with the request and the demand for the grownup food and people seeing the healthy way I cook and the lifestyle I live was when it changed.
[00:15:24] Paula: I’m going to stop you second again, because you’ve also raised my curiosity. You said you started off thinking about the cafe online. This was long before COVID long, before people were thinking about doing, you know what seemed like, okay this has to be hands-on. You know, this is in front people business, you were thinking about a cafe online. Wow.
[00:15:45] Renate: Yes.
[00:15:46] Paula: Wow.
[00:15:46] Renate: Exactly. And so I don’t want to jumble everything up, but I’ll come and I’ll touch a little bit on that at some point in our conversation on what you just said with the cafe online. But yes, because I had no money for a storefront, and I couldn’t afford what was out there. I couldn’t go on take, I did not rather, I could, but I did not want to take out a bank loan to start a business. Because I would be creating an expense that I already wasn’t working, my husband was the person, you know we both had two salaries in New York. And then now I couldn’t go and create an expense that every month has to factor in, oh here is a bill we have to cater to every month. And I don’t know how I would sell where it would go. So I did mine in what I would consider an unconventional method.
[00:16:50] Paula: Right.
[00:16:51] Renate: So I did mine completely differently and it worked for me. So I have the children’s books, I have the bakery that was my cafe. But this is what I wanted to share with you, Paula. I started out first with one book and my superstar lemon bars. And that’s why I always say when life gave me lemons, I turned them in the literacy and I turned them into those lemon bars. Because that’s what became my number one seller for dessert. When people tasted those lemon bars, and nine years later it’s still my top seller.
[00:17:33] Paula: Okay, so tell me the name of the book again.
[00:17:35] Renate: So the name of my cookbook is called, “Just eat pure and simple cooking”. And it’s a cookbook with versatile everyday recipes. And the concept is health and wellness. It teaches you how you can cook food from scratch, using pure and simple ingredients, a lot of vegetables, how not to be intimidated by vegetables, how not to be intimidated by cooking. In there I put my recipe and how you can prepare your Thanksgiving turkey from start to finish, and it will be tender juicy and delicious, and no fear. So I have holiday recipes, breakfast recipes, everyday cooking recipes. It’s a go-to book that you can look at and pull your recipes for the weeks. And then whatelse, if we’re going to talk on the cookbook. I’m launching my own blend of spices and herbs, and it’s called “lady ren chef’s blend”. When I wrote the cookbook, some of the ingredients that I have listed with the spices, I had a few readers ask me, what is it? Where can they find it? They don’t see it in their grocery stores. And that’s when the light bulb came on, and I said, you know what? I’m going to do a research and see how I can combine all of my essentials that is in my everyday cooking, how I can do that. So this past year, earlier in the year, I started with that on that research. I worked with a company right here in the United States, that’s why I’m even much more excited about that. And my blend is finally coming to my website for sale.
[00:19:26] Paula: Oh boy, that’s exciting.
[00:19:30] Renate: It is exciting. 27 herbs and spices in there, all healthy. And I wanted it to go beyond just something that you put into your food. But I want it to have serve several purposes. It’s a time-saver because everything is in one place. It’s a space saver, you ever know you pull out your pantry shelf and your spice cabinet, and you have all these jars and bottles and you forget about, oh, I haven’t even used this, what is this for? So you just need everything in one chart, it saves money. You’re buying one bottle versus several. And as I said, so quick and easy for preping. It can also, you will be used as a condiment, you could sprinkle it on french fries, you could sprinkle it on your pizza, you could sprinkle it on your food just to add some more flavor. So it’s, that’s what I wanted to do to bring to my customers, to my audience is help them, especially in this fast paced world. And to know that I help take people to help them take the guesswork out of their food. Because with the company I work with, I know where all my herbs and spices, what part of the country, which countries they came from, how they’re sourced. That’s how passionate I am about health and wellness.
[00:20:54] Paula: Awesome.So, but I still want to bring you back to something that you said that jumped out at me. You said that you started making lemonbars, which you wrote a recipe on that, that has become, that is one of your best sellers, correct?
[00:21:12] Renate: Yes. So after I started lady ren’s bakery and books, that’s what I tested the waters with new people. I knew when I decided to have a book signing for my frogging ground was cup. And that was the same day I announced to the few colleagues and friends I’ve met and say, hey, I’m also launching my own business. It’s going to be on online business. And I had samples of the lemon bars and they tasted it and on the spot because I had samples and some prepared boxes for sale, they all bought the lemon bars and placed orders right there and then. And from, like I said nine years ago to now I still have people from them still buying those lemon bars.
[00:22:04] Paula: So what I am hearing from you and listening to your story closely, is that you never gave up. You came here realized, whoa okay. Well, you’re excited to come here in the first place. So you left Guyana with a background knowing that your parents always pushed for education, they always pushed you and your brother to excel. But you came to the United States, it was different. And you looked around you and you said, okay what am I going to do to keep up this, the spirit of excellence that your parents have instilled in you? And then with that curiosity and, you know, the zeal to learn, you started looking for ways. And through that journey, I mean, I see that curiosity and what next step and, you know, never giving up. I see that thread weaving through everything that you’ve said so far. To go from there as a 21 year old naive, naive? Probably not, well I don’t know.
[00:23:00] Renate: Yes,yes,yes. I came from that background, you know, so very, yes you are on point.
[00:23:06] Paula: 21 year old getting everything you could. As you said, you got a combination of certificates from different schools and you would. You touched on law, you’d touched on visual arts and you went to the community college. And from there you ended up, you said your dream and desire was always to get onto wall street and you did that.
[00:23:29] Renate: And I did that. Yes, absolutely. You know, when people sometimes ask me how I think with all that I do, have done, how my journey could inspire other women, especially immigrant women like myself coming to the US, I would say.
[00:23:50] Paula: What do you tell them?
[00:23:52] Renate: That’s exactly, and this is what I would say. Thirty five years ago, there weren’t as many opportunities and resources like we have now in the US Paula. And if I could have used what little was available then and build from it, anyone who dreams of coming here to build a better future, they can do it. But you have to be smart in the decisions you make and look for the opportunities and place yourself with like-minded people. And for me, the best resources, well now it’s available and it’s free, is the internet. Connect with women’s groups or organizations, and look for classes that you can get for free. I mean, the possibilities are endless. And one thing I always say, and I taught my children the same thing. If you don’t create your direction, other people will help you stay lost.
[00:24:52] Paula: Say that again.
[00:24:55] Renate: Yes. If you don’t create them, your direction, others will help you stay lost.
[00:25:00] Paula: I love that phrase.
[00:25:03] Renate: Yes. So you have to be fearless and bold, but you also have to have a focus because there’s so many distractions out there. Again, I came from a naive background and landed in New York. There were so many things out there that I could have easily become distracted with. But I, what helped me was I was grounded. And even though I was fearless, some fear kept me in place as well. So I explored, but I did it cautiously and wisely. And that is what I would say, the opportunity is there, you can do it you just have to believe and have faith in yourself.
[00:25:55] Paula: Yes
[00:25:55] Renate: And the other thing I would say is, do not compare yourself to other women and look for what may seem to be their successes, work on your own. And that’s what I would say. So you have the opportunity now, so it’s doable.
[00:26:15] Paula: I agree, it’s doable. And I mean, you answered two questions I meant to ask you, which is one, you know, what resources or what would you tell immigrant women like yourself? And secondly, indirectly you’ve answered the question of how do you become a success? You don’t look at other people, you look at what you have and look and tell yourself it is doable. Don’t compare yourself.
[00:26:37] Renate: Yeah. I mean like I always say, I say to people, when I would look back, you know, sometimes you’ll hear, well Renate are you, would you consider yourself a success? And why do you feel that way? And I would say not only do I consider myself a success, I consider myself a huge success. I came to this country and I worked my way from a sewing factory, the babysitting and the housekeeping jobs, moved on to real estate and wall street and international education to building a revenue generated online business from scratch. And guess what Paula? A business that survive and thrive through COVID 19 pandemic. So for me, success is not about money, it’s looking back at that 21 year old person who boarded a plane with no idea where she will be. But I use what I had my ambitions, my hardworking personality and not frowning on jobs, no job was beyond me. So I worked with what I have. And today now I love that I can help other women have the courage to do the same. And for my success again, I can help others, but most of all, I’ve created a lifestyle where I get to enjoy what I love best. I’m a very free spirited person and I get to live that every day.
[00:28:14] Paula: That’s awesome, that’s awesome. So as I listened to that, you know, as you said, your success is also to help other people’s success, succeed sorry. And you get a joy out of doing that because you’re doing also things you love. Where, I know you mentioned that you do have a book out right now called “Just eat”. And it’s all about health and wellness, which is what we all need, especially as we are aging. And even those who are not aging, we all need to know one thing that “Just eat”. It’s not diets, it’s not, you know, quantity or whatever. It’s like one thing, one thing that you said that I love, which is knowing where your food comes from. Because you can think you’re eating healthy and your not.
[00:29:05] Renate: Exactly.
[00:29:05] Paula: And I love that you touched on that, you know, that you can take the guess work out of the food that you’re consuming. Your source, your ingredient, or you make reference to ingredients that are healthy. I mean from the ground to the mouth, that should be something that, you know, we should be aware of. Or even if it’s not from the ground, I mean, where’s your chicken coming from? Where’s your beef coming from? Where’s the meat that you’re eating coming from? That’s important. And from what you’re saying, that’s something that you take pride in doing and sharing and teaching and encouraging others to do as well.
[00:29:41] Renate: Absolutely. This is why I would say to anyone, whatever your desire is to have in your business. I didn’t just stick with my children’s books and the lemon bars. I have now over 200 and some desserts and pastries available that I make, but I didn’t stop there. I branded my own coffee blend, because again, coffee is one of the most type of product that people could put a lot of fertilizers on and I make sure I know, how might the beans are sourced to the way it get into the cup before it enters my body. So I worked again with a roaster and I blended my own brand of coffee. Now I have my own brand of herbs and spices. So these are things that I try to provide, to help people to live better and know where their food is coming from. So I went from children’s books to the cafe, then I moved on to the health and wellness part with the cookbook. I grew that with online cooking classes and that happened when COVID started. I was supposed to do that in person. But when we had the COVID 19 pandemic, that’s when I said, okay, you know what? I’ve got to become more than ever even more innovative. And all these ideas came into my head, I turned it into online cooking classes and it was received very well. In my second year of doing them, I do themes, I do destinations themes and it’s all healthy meals, delicious. But you see how you can cook from scratch using these healthy ingredients. And then now, like I said, I have my seasoning blend and my fourth book that will be coming out. It’s in the process, it will be out next year. It’s my journey on becoming an entrepreneur. The real down and dirty, the ins and outs, a lot of the things that people wouldn’t tell you. Because I shared this everyday with my other women colleague businesswoman and they would say the same thing. Like with the cookbook, this is what we need to hear. So while some people may embellish things, I will not, because I am a very honest and true to myself person. So that will be my story.
[00:32:21] Paula: Oh, my word. I can’t ask you if you’re a success, you’ve already said it in as many words. And you know, one of the things you said is that, your book that’s coming out, your fourth book, not your first, not your second but your fourth book, that’s coming out. You’re going to share your journey on how you became an entrepreneur and tell everyone exactly as it was or is, because it’s still in the mail. You’re still on that entrepreneurial journey. Children’s book to cafe, to health and wellness, to online cooking, to destination themes, seasoning blends, fourth book. That’s the journey that you’re on, right now.
[00:33:01] Renate: Yes, and I’m not stopping.
[00:33:03] Paula: And you’re not stopping.
[00:33:06] Renate: And then to, recently, you know, what was the come eventually landed sooner than later. I’ve also added being a health and wellness speaking engagements sessions. So I actually did that for a company who has an office in Maryland, in your neck of the woods, and then one here in North Carolina. So they wanted to connect the DC and the North Carolina offices, because they’re gonna eventually get ready to go back in person in the workspace. And they reached out to me and I had a session with them and talking about being mindful, how to cope with burnout and all of that. So added to that, and it all falls onto my umbrella. I tell people, my business is like an insurance company is this umbrella and I have all these different policies. But the concept is all health and wellness.
[00:34:08] Paula: I love that. That’s the theme health and wellness.
[00:34:13] Renate: Yes, health and wellness is my theme. That is the whole concept. And of course I do a lot of philanthropy work with the community. I’m very involved with humane society of Charlotte, many other animal shelters around the country. Anything that relates with education and homeless, I’m involved in those as well. And I do a lot of projects with schools and neighborhoods that are underprivileged. Recently I did a fundraiser to donate books to, yes. In Charlotte, it’s a nonprofit that provides books to underprivileged children and in neighborhoods where they don’t have access to books. I’ve donated hundreds of my children’s books to many other places. So those are my behind the scenes as well that I do. I’m involved in a lot of give back.
[00:35:10] Paula: That’s awesome. Well, you know, you’ve said through story telling somewhat, not really story telling, but you know through conversation all the things you have done. But if someone wants to find you online after listening to this, of course, they will want to find you online. Where can you be found Renate?
[00:35:30] Renate: Oh, you go to my website. It’s “www.Ladyrens.com”. That’s “ladyrens.com”, and you will find all the ways to connect with me. I’m on Instagram. Lady Rens Bakery and books. I’m on Twitter, I’m on LinkedIn, so I’m on all the social media channels. And I do have a YouTube channel as well Renate Moore, so subscribe because I am always sharing kitchen tips, recipes, ideas, and all of that. And I also put my TV cooking sessions when I go to the WBTV once monthly cook in the kitchen cooking, that’s also there. So people can be inspired to eat healthy and get the recipes.
[00:36:21] Paula: That’s incredible. I love it, I love it. So folks, this has been Renate Moore. I’ve been waiting for months to have her on my show and now she’s graced me with her presence, and now she’s come on. I’ve learned even more about her than I thought I knew. I met her primarily when she was an author of children’s books, but since then so much has happened and she has shared them with me and has also shared them with you guys. So Renata, there I go again, she’s Renata and she’s told you guys or Renate. Thank you for being a guest on chatting with the experts.
[00:37:04] Renate: Thank you for having me, Paula. It was a pleasure.
[00:37:07] Paula: Absolutely. I could not, I mean, could not, could not have had the year end without me speaking to you. This was a for sure, for sure interview. It had to happen.
[00:37:19] Renate: It was my privilege for me to be here. So thank you for inviting me.
[00:37:25] Paula: Absolutely. So to my listeners, if you have enjoyed what you just heard, I invite you to head over to Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere you listen to podcast and click subscribe. If you are an immigrant woman from Africa or the Caribbean and have found these stories interesting, please let us know in your reviews. And if you would like to be a guest on my show, and you’re an immigrant woman that is, in the show chatting with the experts, please head over to my website, “chattingwiththe experts.com” to the contact us page and apply. Renate this has been great. Thank you so much.
[00:38:09] Renate: Thank you. Be well, everyone. .