It was one in the morning when Armenian artist-turned-baker Nana Manucharyan asked me to reschedule our meeting from 9:00 to 8:30 in the morning.
Seven hours later I was waiting at her apartment, thinking my unanswered knocks at the door meant she was still asleep. It wouldn’t be surprising, I surmised, if she was—Nana, 29, was juggling two businesses during the pandemic and raising her son as a single parent.
As I pondered the decency of calling her this early in the morning to remind her about our meeting, Nana, 29, popped up from around the corner, arms full of supermarket bags and already started on the day’s itinerary.
Throughout the day, I recalled this incident—a single moment that exemplified Nana, an artist who had found inspiration in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic and managed to turn the crisis into a creative new business.
Even her business plans come to Nana in a rush. Weeks into the pandemic, she was wrestling with how to continue to pay her staff and rent for her four Terracotta art studios after being forced to temporarily close them. The online classes she organized after the pandemic was announced had provided a bit of income, but not nearly enough to cover the bills. Nana's son Argishti kept asking her to buy Nutella, the cocoa-hazelnut spread. Loathe to buy the processed version at the store, Nana decided to try and make some at home. The chocolaty cream was an instant success, and further experimenting with cakes proved even better. In a flash, her four sisters helped design the logo for Arty Choc Bakery, and she started marketing it online. That was on a Sunday. By Monday, she had two cake orders and the business was born.