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Loretta, a Barwell resident, a homemaker, a mother and a full-time carer has still found time to create an online business, doing what she loves most, cooking.

Loretta was born in Malaysia and came to the UK in 2008. While adapting to a new country and a new way of life and running a household, Loretta was told that one of her twin daughters had ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder).

This completely changed Loretta’s life. She says:

“I had to deal with school and special education services, social services, and other agencies. This was all new to me. My life was a daily rush of doing the school run, attending to the girls, meeting with teachers, social workers and health professionals. Life felt hard”.

Despite her hectic and challenging life, Loretta found the time to give back to the community by volunteering for organisations like ‘Age Concern’ and ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ which allowed her to put her childhood love of cooking towards a noble cause by delivering cooking sessions. She also shared her recipes and food with users of the Buddhist Community Centre where she attended regularly.

This gave root to the idea of starting her own blog where she could share her culinary skills and recipes with a much wider community. It, however, took a couple of years for Loretta to set up her own blog – Nyonya Recipes - after things had become more settled on the home front. Loretta attributes this to her daughters who have been her devoted champions, and have always encouraged her to continue with her goals.

This was the beginning of Loretta’s journey to setting up on her online business – and innovative range of homemade vegan food. She states:

“Yes, I wanted to be inclusive, but also I feel that the way we are consuming natural resources is not sustainable. I am concerned about the number of animals that are used for food”.

Loretta started the arduous process of product testing her recipes at farmers markets, vegan markets and with local retail outlets.

“It took 100’s of hours, test baking, test tasting the product, packaging, and a whole gamut of things”, says Loretta. “All alongside attending several digital training courses to gain the knowledge and skills to create and set up a website”.

It was at this point that Loretta came across the Work.Live.Leicestershire Project (WiLL) via one its delivery Partners, Voluntary Action Leicestershire (VAL), who referred Loretta to another WiLL delivery Partner CASE (Co-operative and Social Enterprise).

CASE offers 1-2-1 business support to WiLL clients and specialises in promoting ethical, co-operative and community businesses.

“By the time Loretta came to us she knew what she wanted. She had already set up the blog and website and was attending various farmers’ markets. She was, however, feeling quite overwhelmed, and needed some guidance and direction, especially with regard to what was working and what wasn’t”, states Jane Avery, CASE Advisor and WiLL Support Worker. “This is where we at CASE were able to step in and give her the mentoring and support that she needed to feel more confident about the range of products that she wanted to provide for her own online customers”.

Jane goes on to add: “Loretta is a remarkable, woman who has not let her challenging personal circumstance stand in the way of achieving her dream. She is a hard-working, determined woman, who does not give up, and has been very open to new suggestions and ideas that we have come up with”.

Nyonya Recipes Shop UK is live and taking online orders – offering a unique blend of Asian and British flavours to tempt the palate.

Not only does it promote a plant-based range, but also uses biodegradable packaging – something that Loretta feels very strongly about.

“In my own small way, it feels like I am doing my part for the future of this planet. I am so proud of how far I have come, how much I have achieved, how much I have learned, and how tech savvy I have become….Not bad for a woman in her 60’s who used to see herself as belonging to the old world is it”? says Loretta Lee with pride.

(Visit Nyona Recipe Shop UK website or email luv@nyonyarecipeshop.com for more details – Loretta has introduced a ‘Friday Night Take-away especially during the Covid Lockdown period)