“When life gave me lemons, I turned them into superstar lemon bars and literacy.” —Renate Moore
Renate Moore’s passion for food and cooking started early on in her family kitchen in British Guiana (now Guyana) in South America. Renate’s working mom loved to cook and would invite Renate and her brother to help out as sous chefs in the evenings as she prepared meals.
“She said it would also help with our math and science because we were measuring and dealing with temperatures,” Renate remembers. “We were lucky to have such awesome parents growing up who taught us values as well as how to live a balanced life.”
One time, Renate’s mom was in the hospital and the family had to all pitch in. “We didn’t have fast food there—everything was prepared from scratch,” she says. This meant going to the market, buying fresh fish and meat and harvesting vegetables from the garden.
It was a valuable lesson in self-sufficiency that set the stage for Renate to live on her own when she emigrated to the U.S. at age 21. She came to New York where she struggled at first to find foods to which she was accustomed. “I remember going into my first McDonald’s and ordering a burger and chips, not fries,” she laughs.
When Renate got married to her husband, who is also from South America, she loved cooking the culturally diverse foods they had grown up on—Chinese, Indian (she is Asian-Indian), African and more. She also added in American dishes they discovered. “My house was always the home everyone came to for the holidays,” she says.
During those years in New York, Renate held various corporate roles—from real estate to Wall Street to an international non-profit. But when she and her husband relocated to North Carolina for his work 18 years ago, she had trouble landing a new position. “I was afraid my brain would go to oatmeal if I wasn’t working,” Renate shares. “It was devastating.”
But Renate’s husband had an idea. She had always wanted to write a children’s book so he suggested she focus on that. She enrolled in an online writing program and while going through it, a lightbulb went on. She decided to create the business now that she dreamed of doing in retirement: a café and bookstore.
Renate quickly incorporated Lady Ren’s Bakery & Books (since “Ren” was what her parents called her and “Lady” is a common prefix in Guyana culture) and her husband helped her to set up a website. She started with one children’s book and lemon bars.
“We invited over a few neighbors and friends from my husband’s job and told them I was launching a business,” she recalls. “They tasted my lemon bars and it took off from there. I always say that when life gave me lemons, I turned them into superstar lemon bars and literacy.”
Seven years ago, Renate was no longer connected with any professional networking groups, but met a retired-teacher-turned-entrepreneur who asked if she had heard about NAWBO. They went to a few NAWBO Charlotte meetings and were interested, but didn’t join.
Then in 2020, an email landed in Renate’s in-box about the virtual National Women’s Business Conference and a scholarship opportunity. She applied and was selected to receive exhibit space and a one-year membership. “I’ve now been able to really experience NAWBO and it’s been good!” she says. “I really want to build relationships with women business owners who are a good fit.”
Today, Renate sees her online business as a café without walls that offers books, pastries and baked goods. She’s written two children’s books based on real-life experiences—one about overcoming fears and making new friends and another about the importance of family and reading—as well as a cookbook featuring global cuisine that was published by a fellow NAWBO sister.
To grow her business over the past few years, she has done things like selling at her local farmers’ market, speaking at the rotary club and doing a cooking segment for a weekend news show (which resulted from a connection she made with a news personality who tried her lemon bars at the farmers’ market).
“My ideal clients are those interested in living a healthy lifestyle and people who value the food I provide, whether it’s through my baked goods or cooking classes,” Renate says.
In fact, she was excited to share her passion with members of the Circle (the NAWBO Institute program for women business owners with $1 million-plus businesses) through a virtual cooking class, an offering she launched last March and quickly pivoted from in-person to online.
Through doing these classes, the farmers’ market and more, it’s Renate’s hope that the people she connects with feel a lot like she did when she first discovered her passion for food and cooking so many years ago in her family kitchen.
What Leadership Means to Me…
“Leadership for me means empowering and setting an example. I say a lot of times, ‘You can either lead, follow me or get out of the way.’ It’s helping whoever is around me to strengthen their skills, listen to what they have to offer and then implement that in what I’m doing to take my business to the next level.” —Renate
From Renate’s Kitchen to Yours!
Click here to download the Shortbread Cookie Dough recipe featured in Renate’s cookbook Just Eat, Pure and Simple Cooking.
Watch this local morning news show interview featuring Renate: