At TextNow, we believe that when opportunity calls – you need to have the right number to answer it. That’s why we support small business owners and side hustlers with a second phone line, a dedicated business number, and the ability to create a professional voicemail message – all for free. This month, we’re speaking to some of our amazing customers who are working hard to make their dreams a reality.
“I feel like I’ve found my niche.”
When the Italian restaurant where Janaja Harris worked as a chef in Allentown, Pennsylvania closed down due to the pandemic, she wanted to keep expanding her skills in the kitchen. The self-taught chef started her own catering company in March, cooking meals for groups as small as one and as large as 300. We spoke to Janaja about setting up shop in her own kitchen and her go-to meal.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
I’m a full-time student and a self-taught chef. I was working in the kitchen at an Italian restaurant here in Allentown that was forced to close because of the pandemic. When we shut down, I wasn’t eligible for unemployment benefits, so I needed a way to make money. But I also wanted to follow my passion and keep growing as a chef.
I’m studying Business Administration in college, where I’ve been learning how to run a business, I understand how to manage my books, and I thought this was a great opportunity to try my own thing.
I started doing small catering jobs and private dining, and it’s really taken off over the past seven or eight months. It’s been such a blessing – it brings me so much joy to cook and I really feel like I’ve found my niche.
Tell us about xFiresKitchenx.
At xFiresKitchenx, I do a little bit of everything from catering events to private dining. I’m a personal chef, I make smoothies, and I do desserts that people can pick up or have delivered. Anything that people want, I can do.
I make any kind of cuisine that my customers would like, and I’m always experimenting and learning as a chef.
What’s your signature dish?
Definitely my braised ox tail with coconut and lime rice. My seven-cheese baked macaroni and cheese is also really popular.
What have been some of the biggest challenges of running your own business?
I’m graduating from college in May 2021, so juggling school and my business has been a lot of work. But the hardest part has been being a one-man team. In a restaurant setting, there’s a lot of people in the kitchen so you can work together to get the food ready and learn from each other. At Fires Kitchen, it’s all on me. I have to work with my customers, do all of the planning and shopping, the cooking, work at the events, and manage the books.
It’s been an incredible experience, I’m learning a lot, and it’s preparing me for the future. I’m just excited about what comes next.
How does TextNow help you with your business?
TextNow gives my customers an easy, fast way to contact me without giving out my personal number. I have to post my number online so that people can reach me, so it’s nice to have a second number that’s not my personal line.
It also helps me keep things organized. All of my customer contacts and information is in its own place that’s different from my personal stuff.
What’s the future of your business?
One day, I want to open my own restaurant. Right now, I’m saving up and putting in the work, but I’m going to get that restaurant.