Fifteen years ago, Patricia Farooq was a maths and science teacher at the Houston Independent School District but transitioned into entrepreneurship to bring in an additional stream of income.
As a teacher, Farooq worked in primarily low socioeconomic areas. She taught fourth and fifth-grade math, and students were fallen behind in those areas. According to Farooq, this motivated her more because she wanted to close the huge gaps and provide a high level of education to children who couldn’t receive it outside school hours.
Farooq pivoted into the culinary industry as a side hustle but as the returns became more and more lucrative, she decided to take it as a full-time job, resulting in the launch of Cupcake Kitchen in Third Ward.
“I started to transition into cooking because I was trying to come up with some other streams of revenue,” Farooq told abc13. “I started to cater in 2013 and Cupcake Kitchen opened in 2014.”
Cupcake Kitchen started as just a bakery in 2013 but by 2019, she had expanded the business and now serves savory seafood and soul food dishes as well as jerk chicken wings and oxtails. Farooq is also planning to open a second location at Pearland.
According to her, cooking has always been part of her. Recalling her days as a teacher, Farooq said she used to have a lot of gatherings like birthday parties, social gatherings and the Super Bowl among others in her house.
“At the time, social media wasn’t as big as it is now, so I had the Food Network or a recipes book, and I had friends come over, and I would always cook things outside the box. My mother also had a restaurant while she was in education. I had that as my foundation to help me understand the business,” she told defender network.
“I always wanted to do something outside of teaching that would bring me income for cooking and selling food. My schedule was a lot. I would wake up preparing people’s catering orders, go to work, and then come back home to finish,” she continued.
Her food became popular although it took much of her time. Baking, on the other hand, wasn’t time-consuming and she was also convinced that it could take her out of the classroom as she didn’t want to retire as a teacher.
Farooq was running a successful small business until the pandemic. Luckily for her, she was also running her business online but customers could not dine in her physical locations due to covid restrictions.
“COVID impacted us more afterwards because people changed their spending habits regarding food. During the lockdown, people were at home every day ordering food online,” she noted.
For other educators who want to turn their side hustle into a full-time business, Farooq’s advice is that “make sure you have a plan.”
“Stay positive. Research and learn about the business. Don’t take criticism personally,” she further noted.