#SWAAYthenarrative

Meet "The Cake Girl" Who's Becoming The Millennial Martha Stewart

People

In an impeccably decorated and meticulously organized Manhattan Uptown apartment, Stephanie Nass without hesitation responds to the final question of our interview, “Free time? I don't know what that means," she says offering another homemade cookie decorated with a Chefanie Sheet. “This is my oxygen. This is my fun."


Nass, known to most only as Chefanie, is the founder and CEO of Victory Club. Launched in 2014, Nass' private club features her culinary art, both in presentation and taste, inspired by the visual arts of the space. She soon followed this venture with the premiere of Chefanie Sheets in 2016, a line of artistic edible premade cake sheets. To succeed in two self-funded business ventures is impressive, but what separates Nass is a determination to achieve so much so young.

"The accomplishments of this young entrepreneur are not only a demonstration of Nass' expertise, but a testimony to the power of conviction" - Photo Courtesy of Chefanie

Having only turned 27 in April, Nass is every bit the entrepreneurial success story. The cultivation of what she describes as “a lifestyle brand that is culinary focused," is a showcase of both her talents as a chef and an artist. However, the accomplishments of this young entrepreneur are not only a demonstration of Nass' expertise, but a testimony to the power of conviction.

When you ask most children what they want to be when they grow up, you'll usually get a carefree and uncertain response. Perhaps one day an astronaut, another day a mermaid, or maybe even a cowboy—but if you had asked a young Nass you would have gotten a definitive answer: a chef.

“I've gone by Chefanie, my nickname, since I was a little girl because I've always loved cooking, passionately since I was very, very young," Nass remarks sitting amongst her practice cakes, always close by in case inspiration strikes. “From the time I was 16 I said, ok I want to do this my whole life, this is going to be my career. So, every decision I've made from that point has been to that end."

Nass' commitment to becoming a chef led her to Brittany, France when she was only 16. Although Nass was too young at the time to attend culinary school, her desire to be fully immersed in French culinary culture inspired her to take every opportunity to learn from various residents of the small town. She spent her free time training informally in local restaurants and snatched every opportunity to eat in Paris.

Upon her return, she attended Columbia University, where she earned her BA in Art History, and she also attended night classes at the International Culinary Center in New York City where she received her Grand Diplôme. But determined to understand business from the ground up, Nass moved to Silicon Valley following graduation to join a fast-growth tech company, “I worked out there for a year [and] learned so much. [I] learned how to do financial models, how to project headcount and all these things I never would have known."

After moving back to New York City Nass began to host dinners in her shoebox apartment for her friends, “these dinners that I was hosting, which I really organized because I wanted to cook for people, I also did because I wanted to way to meet new people," says Nass. “I would tell all my friends please bring one person that everyone can meet, and make new friends. Art was really the springboard for conversation. As you'll see my apartment is full of my artwork, artwork of artist friends, of mine and art pieces I've collected."

From this ritual, Victory Club materialized. Nass began hosting events through the club and has hosted elaborate dinners in New York, the Hamptons, Miami, Nashville, London, Rome and Vienna in just three years. With most of the club members located in New York members pay $100 monthly for invitations to private dinners and discounts to public events. Each event differs in style and format, created and cultivated by Nass who fuses “the culinary [and] visual arts" together. On top of conceptualising the food, she hand paints the menu cards and designs the place settings, to align with the artist's vision.

Following the success of Victory Club, Nass launched Chefanie Sheets. The chef, who jokingly acknowledges her perceived persona as “the cake girl", decided to market the sheets after her dessert accessory began to be popular with her social media following. Since the collection was released, Chefanie Sheets have been featured on the Today Show and Nass has appeared in various digital channels with the product, including Refinery29, Instyle and Business Insider.

Despite Nass' tremendous success, she shows no sign of stopping. In the next five to ten years the young entrepreneur hopes to open her very own store which she describes as “not your typical bakery." But don't expect to only see the baking mogul's signature cakes, as she plans to venture into prepared catering, premade food featuring her family's and her own recipes.

“For me my way to spend a day is taking on a challenging project and completing it," says Nass, whose success stems not only from her talents and artistic ideas, but most of all her dedication to hard work. She is a model of social media success story, networking both in person and electronically to develop a self-identified brand. This may seem like a difficult undertaking, but for Nass this has been her technique from the beginning.

3 Min Read
Lifestyle

Tempted To Dial Your Ex: 5 Ways To Know Whether Or Not You Should Contact An Old Flame

Thinking of ringing up your ex during these uncertain times? Maybe you want an excuse to contact your ex, or maybe you genuinely feel the need to connect with someone on an emotional level. As a matchmaker and relationship expert, I was surprised at the start of the coronavirus quarantine when friends were telling me that they were contacting their exes! But as social distancing has grown to be more than a short-term situation, we must avoid seeking short-term solutions—and resist the urge to dial an ex.

It stands to reason that you would contact an ex for support. After all, who knows you and your fears better than an ex? This all translates into someone who you think can provide comfort and support. As a matchmaker, I already know that people can spark and ignite relationships virtually that can lead to offline love, but lonely singles didn't necessarily believe this or understand this initially, which drives them straight back to a familiar ex. You only need to tune into Love Is Blind to test this theory or look to Dina Lohan and her virtual boyfriend.

At the start of lockdown, singles were already feeling lonely. There were studies that said as much as 3 out of 4 people were lonely, and that was before lockdown. Singles were worried that dating someone was going to be off limits for a very long time. Now when you factor in a widespread pandemic and the psychological impact that hits when you have to be in isolation and can't see anyone but your takeout delivery person, we end up understanding this urge to contact an ex.

So, what should you do if you are tempted to ring up an old flame? How do you know if it's the wrong thing or the right thing to do in a time like this? Check out a few of my points before deciding on picking up that phone to text, much less call an ex.

Before You Dial The Ex...

First, you need to phone a friend! It's the person that got you through this breakup to begin with. Let them remind you of the good, the bad and the ugly before taking this first step and risk getting sucked back in.

What was the reason for your breakup? As I mentioned before, you could get sucked back in… but that might not be a bad thing. It depends; when you phoned that friend to remind you, did she remind you of good or bad things during the breakup? It's possible that you both just had to take jobs in different cities, and the breakup wasn't due to a problem in the relationship. Have these problems resolved if there were issues?

You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you.

Depending on the reason for the breakup, set your boundaries for how much contact beforehand. If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

If you know you shouldn't be contacting this ex but feel lonely, set up a support system ahead of time. Set up activities or things to fall back on to resist the urge. Maybe you phone a different friend, join a virtual happy hour for singles, or binge watch Netflix. Anything else is acceptable, but don't phone that ex.

Write down your reasons for wanting to contact the ex. Ask yourself if this is worth the pain. Are you flea-bagging again, or is there a friendship to be had, which will provide you with genuine comfort? If it's the latter, it's okay to go there. If it's an excuse to go back together and make contact, don't.

Decide how far you are willing to take the relationship this time, without it being a rinse and repeat. If you broke up for reasons beyond your control, it's okay. If your ex was a serial cheater, phone a friend instead.

If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

As life returns to a more normal state and you adjust to the new normal, we will slowly begin to notice more balance in our lives. You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you. Some do's and don'ts for this time would be:

  • Do: exercise ⁠— taking care of you is important during this time. It's self-care and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: shower, brush your teeth, and get out of your sweats.
  • Don't: be a couch potato.
  • Don't: drink or eat excessively during this time. Again, remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: think positive thoughts everyday and write down the 3 things you are grateful for. Look at the impact of John Krasinksi's SGN. It's uplifting and when you feel good, you won't want to slide backwards.
  • Don't: contact a toxic ex. It's a backward move in a moment of uncertainty that could have a long term impact. Why continue flea bagging yourself?