For Hana Yohannes, owner of Shikorina Pastries, the best part of baking is the community building that comes from sharing something she’s baked from scratch.

“Just bringing people together, that’s what I’m most excited about with this business,” Yohannes said one recent sunny afternoon sitting in the front room of the purple house that is home to her bakery, the windows lined with plants.

Yohannes was a 2019 graduate of the Pastry Project, a program providing free baking and pastry training to people with barriers to education. The program also helps with job placement upon graduation. Before entering the program, Yohannes had only baked a few things from scratch.

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“It was all boxed mixes and prepackaged cookie dough,” she said. She was working in physician relations and business strategy development at Seattle Children’s and then she learned about the Pastry Project.

“I tried so many different things; I wasn’t really finding what I was super passionate about. So I’m really glad I found the Pastry Project; they helped me start this business.”

After graduating, Yohannes worked at Hello Robin, a cookie shop in the University District and Capitol Hill, for a few months, while also baking on her own and posting photos of cookies and cakes on Instagram and dreaming of owning her own business “one day, years in the future.”

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Then, in June 2021, she found an adorable house — full of windows and honey wood floors, with a seating area big enough to host events — in the Central District; the stars aligned, and after raising over $18,000 through a GoFundMe, Yohannes opened Shikorina Pastries — “shikorina” is a term of endearment meaning “sweetheart” in Tigrinya.

She sells an ever-changing roster of sweets for takeout only — slabs of cake, sturdy banana bread sprinkled with pepitas, fudgy brownies, flaky strawberry tarts and more. Right now her favorite is the lemon poppy seed muffin.

She describes the neighborhood as having a “small town vibe,” and while initially she was nervous to open in a community that seemed so tight knit, “that went away really quickly.”

“Everyone was so welcoming and supportive. We’re surrounded by so many other amazing businesses that are Black- or queer-owned; the people are amazing,” she said.

And while she hasn’t opened the bakery up for inside seating just yet — she’s wary of coronavirus case counts and still has a few minor renovations to finish up in what will be the bakery’s dining room — she says the satisfaction felt from sharing her pastries with the community will be “10 times better when COVID is done and we’re able to open inside.”