For the majority of her life, Mika Rose has lived in Westbury, but a piece of her has always been connected to her native Jamaica. And that piece is usually found on her plate, in the meals her family would share.
“My family has never strayed from the things we eat when it comes to Jamaican meals,” Rose said. “A lot of families come and sometimes the heritage gets lost a little bit, but we’ve never really lost our touch for the stuff from home.”
Despite Long Island’s diversity, Rose—who lived in Jamaica until she was 10 and then returned for a brief period after college—said finding authentic Caribbean flavors has been a challenge. So she decided to do something about it.
In December of last year she opened My Home Favorites, an ethnic grocery store that carries the flavors and products of the Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad and Africa.
“It’s filling the need where there’s a void,” Rose said.
Among the products sold in her New Cassel store are snacks, produce, baked goods, tea, oils and sauces. For those who grew up in the Caribbean or Africa, or are longing for a taste of these countries, My Home Favorites is a treasure trove. Among the store’s most popular products are Irish Moss—a sea moss sold in drink-form that carries a variety of benefits—as well as roasted breadfruit, ice cream, patties and spice buns.
Stepping into My Home Favorites is unlike stepping into any other grocery store—and that’s exactly what Rose was going for. The new business owner put as much thought into the aesthetic of the store as she did the products she carries, leading to a relaxing, inviting shopping experience. Dark wood floors throughout the space and an open marketplace that includes a large chalkboard announcing the newest offerings lead to an ambiance reminiscent of a coffee shop or bakery. Large windows let sunlight illuminate the variety of products stacked neatly on shelves.
While right now Rose’s focus has been on goods from Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad and other Caribbean and African nations, she’s open to expanding. She will also accommodate special orders from customers who are looking for a specific item.
“I call myself an ethnic store. I don’t want to close myself off,” she said. “I also tell customers, ‘if it’s not here, tell me and I will get it for you.’ It’s great to be able to fill that need to help people.”
Though Rose now finds herself immersed in running a business, just a few years ago, she was filling out applications to law school. But in talking to lawyers and judges in the field, she was steered away from investing so much money into getting her law degree.
“People in the field said it was expensive and there was no guarantee on what kind of pay you’ll get. That was something I started thinking about,” Rose said. “I had the money and said, ‘do I want to invest in law school or my life?’ I decided I would start my own business.”
Rose searched around Nassau County for the right location to open a one-of-a-kind ethnic grocery store. She ended up finding the perfect spot just a few minutes away from her Westbury home.
“I searched everywhere for a space. I came down here and it felt right,” she said of the space at 713 Prospect Ave. “This was the space for me and the type of store I wanted.”
Being from the community she serves has allowed Rose a unique advantage in knowing what her customers’ needs are. And so far, Westbury has welcomed her with open arms.
“The whole purpose of me opening was to serve the community,” she said. “It’s a good feeling for me to be here. I feel like I have a purpose and this is where I’m supposed to be.”