RICHMOND, Va. — A downtown bakery space that was closed this summer when its owner was denied re-entry to the country is getting a second life from a familiar set of hands.
Shola Walker, the former assistant baker of shuttered Jackson Ward shop Nettie’s Naturally, is reopening the space at 100 W. Clay St. as her own bakery, Mahogany Sweets, with the blessing of her former boss, Nettie’s owner Lynette Potgieter.
Potgieter, a South African native who had been living and working in Richmond for six years, closed Nettie’s Naturally in August after she was denied a visa stamp to re-enter the U.S. while visiting her sister in Switzerland. She has since returned to South Africa, where she is now living with her parents.
A BizSense report about her situation drew inquiries from readers wanting to help, including a local congressman’s office and a senior city government official. A GoFundMe page was set up on her behalf – more than $3,000 from 48 donors had been raised as of Friday – and several readers offered to take over the business or help keep it going.
In the end, it was Potgieter’s second-in-command who emerged with an offer to take over the space, starting her own business while in essence continuing what Potgieter had started.
While Potgieter is retaining ownership of the Nettie’s Naturally name, which she intends to revive with a new business in South Africa, she agreed for Walker to take over her lease and start her own bakery with all of her old equipment that was left in the space.