By Lakhram Bhagirat
One of the fondest memories of my childhood is my grandmother returning from a hard day at Bourda Market and ever so often surprises us with thin brown biscuits that were crunchy but not too crunchy, sweet but not too sweet and many years later the aroma still lingers in my nostrils.
It is the aroma of the ever so nostalgic coconut biscuits. As time went by the delight slowly faded away from the market and as I grew older they became almost obsolete. However, a few years ago I was ever so surprised to see them back on the market but this time it was sophisticatedly packaged but the aroma has reignited the nostalgia.
About a year ago, I was at the Women in Business Expo where I smelled a familiar smell that led me to Simone Peters’ booth. It was then I discovered Country Style Coconut Biscuits. Not only was the smell familiar but also the face, coincidentally I would have taught one of Simone’s daughter during my stint as a teacher at the Vreed en Hoop Secondary School.
Simone resides at Crane on the West Coast of Demerara and has been invested in bettering her products. When most of the village is asleep, Simone is up already preparing her ingredients to have an early start.
Soon, a delicious smell drifts lazily from Simone’s kitchen. Floating lightly on the early morning breeze, the inviting aroma wafts through Simone’s sleepy village, reminding her neighbours that one of their own has made a unique and delectable addition to Guyana’s cuisine.
The thing that makes Simone unique is that she uses coconut in all of her products making her products authentically Guyanese.
“I love to make coconut products because I am from the country as well. Everything I want to keep it at the country level, so people get that taste of home…my products will take persons back to their country roots.”
Simone is a native Essequibian and grew up in a family that was about baking. Her aunt would make pastries and other delicacies which she also learned. In 2015, Peters started her business by selling coconut biscuits as a way of supplementing the income.
“In life, we always have ups and downs and we find ourselves in situations that are between a rock and a hard place and we would have to find something to sustain you and take care. I tried my hands at a lot of things that I know to do and I even tried lots of 9-5 and I realized that is not me and I always want to be doing something that satisfies me and I love working with myself. When I ended up in the rock and a hard place situation I went back to what I know best and that is the baking.”
For Simone, it is about making her mark and taking people back to their childhood and creating more memories for the younger generation. She is the epitome of not giving up making her role models for females across the country.
“I have never known in myself that going back to where we started can bring so much joy and happiness to you and it pushes you forward. I have gained the attention of people in Guyana, the Caribbean and even further afield. We are working now to ship to those markets so that people can make those things possible,” she said.
Simone is currently doing everything to develop herself and according to her she is going places and it teaches her how to be humble about her success. The mother of three is serving as the ideal role model for her two daughters and one son.
She had thought about giving up a lot of times but she credits the constant calls for orders or to offer a word or encouragement as fuel to her drive. Simone is currently working on building her bakery as well as expanding her product line.
“I want to keep it strictly coconut and stay true to the roots. So I am currently developing more new products and improving constantly.”