While most of us are still sound asleep, Aleesha Nedd, owner of The Naked Lemon, is wide awake baking an assortment of cakes, pastries, and other goods. Most mornings, Aleesha starts baking in the commercial kitchen at the Astoria Senior Center around 3:00 a.m. to have her scones, cupcakes, and other assorted goods available at her storefront at the corner of 8th Street and Commercial in Astoria by 7:00 a.m. to catch the morning commute rush.
With delicious baked goods in the oven, Aleesha updates social media with her daily menu. Brie and fig scones, matcha guava cupcakes, classic chocolate cupcakes, and gluten free ham and cheddar scones are just a few examples of what she offers. For special orders, she can also provide gluten free options.
When Aleesha opened the storefront in September she quickly gained popularity with Astorians on their morning commutes. Initially, she set her hours from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and had to shorten her hours until noon because she consistently sold out.
Although the storefront is fairly new in town, the Naked Lemon is already established in the community. Beginning in December 2016, Aleesha began the business as a pop-up bakery at various community events, including Second Saturday Art Walk and Carruthers Bazaars. She also provides cakes for private and community events; this fall she provided the cakes for Buoy Beer’s third anniversary party. Even with the storefront, Aleesha intends to continue the pop-up bakery model. Social media makes the pop-up events easy to advertise and Aleesha enjoys getting out in the community.
Aleesha thought Astoria was the perfect place to start her new business. “I grew up here. I have a lot of family in the area. There is also a lot of community support for local businesses. It’s important to me to keep the Naked Lemon an Astoria business and establishment,” she says.
“I am interested in taking it to other cities and towns as a pop-up, but it’s important to me to keep it local.”
Aleesha graduated from Astoria High School and Clatsop Community College, after that she received a degree in Communication Studies from Portland State University before returning to Astoria. Once she moved back, Aleesha worked at multiple restaurants and bakeries in the area. Through these jobs she was exposed to commercial baking and began to toy with the idea of building her own business when she had an office job.
She began her career as a professional baker at Coffee Girl and began her pop-up bakery business, The Naked Lemon, on the side. It was this job that provided Aleesha with the inspiration for the name of her business. One day, while cooking at Coffee Girl, the kitchen ran out of lemon wedges to serve with dishes; staff resorted to adding lemons that had been zested to plates. They called these lemons naked lemons. Aleesha liked the phrase; it stuck with her long enough that she decided to name her business after it.
Room to Grow
For now, Aleesha shares the commercial kitchen with Meals on Wheels. So far, this is working out. “I enjoy learning more about the Senior Center and the people there. It’s a part of the community that I don’t have an opportunity to interact with otherwise. Now I bake their monthly birthday cake and have gotten to know some people there.”
Eventually, Aleesha would like to have her own commercial kitchen. “Things have started off great. Growth is on the horizon. I will continue the pop-ups and would like to explore new places to do those.”