Fionna Pereira highlights her journey from working in the aviation industry to setting up her own business
Fionna Pereira’s journey blended perfectly well on a path filled with the twists and turns that gave various hues to make her life colourful and exciting. “My school life was full of happy moments, a time when I breezed through with my studies and had many friends whose company I enjoyed. I grew in knowledge, as much as I also did in the warmth of my friends and colleagues.” Fionna completed her schooling from Mary Immaculate Girl’s High School, Panjim and later graduated in microbiology and biochemistry from St. Xavier’s College, Mapusa.
As an alumna, the subsequent stark question for her was like many other companions was ‘what next?’ She had to make a living as any other responsible adult and started to seriously think of what she could take up, to stand on her own feet. “I had graduated in Science but found no interest in pursuing anything along those lines. So I did the next best thing and that was to opt for what made me most happy – people!” She opted for aviation as she liked to interact with people. She worked for 20 years with Jet Airways, in sales and ticketing. Meeting people, helping them with their travel plans, gave her a lot of fulfillment in her job as she thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. Later, she worked for two years with Singapore Airlines as a sales officer.
“Working in sales gave me an idea of the likes of the people and sometimes beyond job related conversations.” She used to listen to the interests of her clients and sometimes to their motivating success stories that gave meaning to their lives; and those stories lingered in her mind, too.
Fionna always loved baking while trying out different things at home; and started baking at home during the covid period. She started giving samples to her friends and family and they encouraged her to start her baking journey. “The thought of starting on my own often came up in my mind and it did motivate me to further delve into it. I also needed to make a career move along the same time.” Since she was in sales in the aviation sector, the experience gave her enough confidence to deal with the clients in general. So the thought of opening her own little outlet called Market Corner, appealed to her vision. Although she wanted to do something of her own and was confident of it, at the same time she was quite nervous of the competition around her. “I said to myself, having a product of my own with my personal touch, would be my strength and my mark, to face the competition.”
She mentions that she is not totally alien to business life and the challenges it can pose but her father believed in her.” My father Simon Pereira was a well-known businessman in Panjim. He always believed I could do it and he did motivate me to venture into business initially.” She acknowledges the taste of entrepreneurship that she got from her dad.
Her mother Filomena Pereira encouraged her in following her passion. “She knew if I took up something I would pour my heart and soul into it. She encourages me to take up challenges and I do it with all my zeal.” Her husband Shelton Afonso goads her to chase her dreams.
Fionna states that she always loved being in the kitchen and trying out new recipes. As baking was her hobby, she would spend her Sundays trying some new things with her oven. “I never imagined that I would prepare pastries like a pastry chef at a professional level and people would place orders to serve my products at their functions. Fifi’s is my own brand, where I bake irresistible brownies.” She has been baking different types of brownies (fudgy brownies, walnut brownies, cream cheese brownies, nutella brownies) and a brownie cake as well. She has also been experimenting with dessert recipes, her tender coconut soufflé, caramel and serradurra among other desserts, which have been quite successful.
Market Corner is her outlet in Panjim. “It has all my ‘Fifi’s’ products besides having other savouries and complementary products that one may need for their occasions. When anyone bites into a brownie from Fifi’s and exclaims in delight at its taste, it gives me more satisfaction than I can describe, as Fifi’s is my brand and the brownies are my creations! That’s what I want – to see my clients satisfied.” She tries to put in her own special touch and respond to the clientele’s demands according to the festive seasons. During Christmas season, she specialises in
different types of hampers and décor. “Last year, I had an overwhelming demand from people for the hampers and I did exceedingly well in that segment, including getting corporate orders.”
The seasonal sales and words of appreciation from corporates, individuals and her friends, resulted in customers coming back again for more. “I was very happy with the feedback I received from my clients. It is very encouraging.” Every day is a new experience for Fionna. Her desire to excel, create and learn surpasses her fear. “Every challenge I am faced with now, becomes a greater experience of learning what I am truly capable of. If you feel you are ready to start your own business, first learn to value yourself, believe in your potential and always desire to achieve. Never quit, face challenges and persevere.”
Fionna feels that to be an entrepreneur is to look to what fuels your passion and purpose in life and do whatever it takes to make it happen