November 08, 2019
Recognized and highly praised by BuzzFeed, Zagat, Thrillist, Z100, and Business Insider, #Baonanas landed on the scene in 2014 after JC couple Lloyd Ortuoste and Trisha Villanueva needed to fund the repairs to their beloved yellow Subaru, which had been involved in a hit-and-run incident.
Thinking fast, the then college students whipped up some homemade banana pudding that they sold to friends to get “Subie” back on the road. It worked, and quickly. Soon after, they began posting their new dessert to Instagram under the hashtag #baonanas to much virtual praise and encouragement.
#Baonanas became an official business in 2015, and just two years later Lloyd was able to go full-time. Today Lloyd is CEB (Chief Executive Bear) and Trisha Villanueva is CCB (Chief Creative Bear).
“We’ve been together eight years and we both understand communication is very important, especially when we don’t agree on certain business decisions,” says Lloyd about doing business with his significant other. “With Trisha still in law school, I sometimes feel I must decide which pressing items I should unload onto her. I never want to add to her stress. However, she always picks up on it and knows just how to figure it out with me. She brings the balance.”
There’s always plenty going on at #Baonanas. With orders from a dozen wholesale partners to fill, they spend Tuesday through Friday in the kitchen. Lloyd attends in-person wedding dessert consultations about once a week, and prospects with potential wholesale partners to see where #Baonanas could pop up next.
“If I’m not with the team I’m usually at a nearby coffee shop with my laptop,” he says. “I really enjoy working at URBY’S 9Bar Café.”
While banana pudding is serious business for Lloyd and Trisha, serious isn’t the vibe they’re dishing out.
What are you #Baonanas for?’ is what we want to bring to the conversation.
We’re there with our customers to celebrate life’s happy moments and to be the hug for life’s tougher moments, because that’s what people did for us. There’s a cute bear in our logo – you can’t take things too seriously!”
With over seventeen flavors, there’s something for everyone, with favorites including OG, Cream N’ Cookies, French Toast, Strawberry #Baonanas, Matchananas, Vegan Coconanas and Ubenanas.
“Trisha is the flavor mastermind, but a lot of times, we’re inspired by our travels,” says Lloyd. “We went to Chicago and visited this great little place called The First Slice Pie Café, where a blueberry cheesecake changed our lives for the better. We’ve developed a BlueBeary Cheesecake because of this. Our team members Trizeth Esguerra and Genova Martinez continue to take on the challenge of creating innovative flavors and products. Thai tea, Peachy cobbler, cream puffs and many more!”
The #Baonanas team is constantly trying to perfect the dessert experience, asking why a customer chose a particular flavor or what combination is a customer’s favorite. The goal is to make every #Baonanas experience unforgettable, whether it’s your first or your hundredth – and there are plenty who fall into the latter category.
We’re there with our customers to celebrate life’s happy moments and to be the hug for life’s tougher moments, because that’s what people did for us.
People-first and community-minded, they’re exactly the kind of business that Jersey City welcomes with open arms.
“It’s awesome,” says Lloyd when asked about the JC business community. “At our first festival, we were such amateurs. We didn’t even have a tent. Squeeze’D Jersey City Juice and Wellness Bar at the neighboring table lent a helping hand. They gave us an extra tent and introduced us to industrial clips! It’s a very collaborative community, with kind locals willing to put their business needs aside for a second, just to help someone else’s. I believe it’s because we have the same goal: to provide for our families and give back to the community that we live in. We make each other better.”
#Baonanas is planning to open their first brick-and-mortar store in the near future, and Lloyd is enthusiastic. “We couldn’t be more excited to open up shop in the city that raised us: Jersey City!”
210 Hudson St, Jersey City, NJ 07302