Ready to Run the Family Bakery: Boulangerie St. Antoine

Kathleen Poteau and Instructor Mark Soliday.

I was born and raised in Brockton, Massachusetts, and spent much of my time in a small, traditional Haitian bakery, Boulangerie Street Antoine, owned by my parents. They started the business 22 years ago, right around the time I was born. My mother, with just a high school diploma, and my father, with an associate degree that he earned in Haiti, gave it their all from the start and are still running a successful business to this day.

My parents practically raised my 2 sisters and me in the bakery, and we were “employed” at a very young age — from the time we could package the cookies to be sold and make the traditional Haitian pate (pastry stuffed with a meat filling).

After all the work my parents have done, my sisters and I realized that one of us should continue our parents’ legacy. Although there are 3 of us that have spent so much of our time helping and working at the bakery, my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and even customers predicted that I would be the one to continue working in the bakery, and one day run it.

For a long time, there were clear signs to go along with my family’s predictions that I would take over the bakery. For instance, when I was about 9 years old I would get severe headaches if I stayed home from the bakery. The only thing that would cure them was to go to the bakery to help my parents.

When I graduated from high school, I did not want to believe my family’s predictions. I ignored my calling and went after what I thought would bring me success. I spent 3 years in nursing school. Then I realized nursing was not for me.

What made me decide to attend JWU for the Baking & Pastry Arts program? I took a tour of the Harborside Campus in Providence and was amazed at the chocolate and sugar showpieces on display. I could not imagine creating such beautiful works of art, and I realized this is where I needed to be.

"JWU has been a huge part of getting me where I need to be for the future."

Now, as I get closer to graduating, I know that JWU has been a huge part of getting me where I need to be for the future. Outside of what I have learned in my classes and labs, I’ve been able to connect with faculty who have gone out of their way to help me prepare to run my family’s bakery.

The professors and advisors at JWU have been fantastic and assured me that If I ever needed anything they are just an email away. One of them, Christina Harvey, has given me advice and helped me get an internship at Confectionary Designs in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, owned by another JWU instructor, Mark Soliday.

The business classes and arts and sciences classes I have taken have also helped me prepare for my career as a pastry chef and entrepreneur. The things I have learned about business and finance will help me update and improve the business end of my parents’ bakery. The arts and sciences courses have helped me expand my overall knowledge and grow as a person.

In life, everything happens for a reason. Lo and behold, here I am, following my passion and getting ready to take ownership of the bakery I’ve known and loved my whole life.