CPP’s alumna Husna Ridha’s plant-based business takes off

By Jessica Silverio, Feb. 06, 2024

Cal Poly Pomona alumna Husna Ridha has cultivated her passion for sustainable living into a thriving small business, crafting plant-based desserts that not only satisfy sweet cravings, but also contribute to a greener and healthier lifestyle.

Harnessing her education and experiences at CPP, Ridha’s small business not only reflects her commitment to sustainability, but also serves as a testament to the growing demand for plant based alternative treats.

Upon completing her studies at CPP in 2021 as a major in foods and nutrition with an emphasis in dietetics, Ridha envisioned her path toward a career as a dietitian in high school when she first encountered the transformative potential of plant-based lifestyles.

“I had some skin issues in high school,” said Ridha. “I discovered the plant-based diet and lifestyle and saw some awesome dietitian on YouTube and realized that it was a career choice. I began to cut dairy out of my diet and just consume more of a plant-based diet. I felt so much better and of course I discovered nutrition.”

As Ridha neared graduation, CPP introduced the plant-based minor and she seized the opportunity to pursue it, even if it meant taking additional classes.

“It was just a few extra classes, but it was a lot of cooking and a way to learn about different benefits of foods and veggies and how we can just better incorporate them into our everyday lives,” said Ridha.

Portrait of Ridha graduating from CPP as the Class of 2021. | Courtesy of Husna Ridha

Since her childhood, baking has been a cherished hobby for Ridha, and by integrating the knowledge she gained from CPP along with her personal experiences, she has successfully nurtured and expanded her business, Plant Based Paradise.

“I’ve always baked since I was little,” said Ridha. “My mom taught me how to bake, but I definitely improved my cooking skills. I learned more about alternative ingredients while studying nutrition. That transformed my baking from just making cupcakes and cookies to vegan and allergy friendly desserts. Studying nutrition has had the best impact on my business for sure.”

Plant Based Paradise, operates from the comfort of her home, specializing in the crafting of vegan and allergy-friendly desserts, including an array of treats like cake pops, cookies, cupcakes and various pastries.

Ridha’s small business took shape gradually, gaining momentum with a surge in requests that began during her college years.

“I started baking for friends, like middle school, high school,” said Ridha. “When I was starting college, I was getting a lot of requests suddenly for baby showers and graduations and weddings and things like that. So, I started slowly and did some for friends and family. Then, I started taking orders from people I don’t know.”

As Ridha started fulfilling these requests, she created a social media account to showcase her work, in which she gained a sustainable following on TikTok, particularly during the pandemic.

“It’s a great tool, but we just want to make sure we use it the right way,” said Ridha. “I try to promote goodness and that’s what I did and it’s worked thankfully. Of course, I use it to promote my desserts, but I also show a little bit of my personality and my lifestyle because I do try to live sustainably and that’s an important aspect of my business. I do try to be an advocate for a sustainable lifestyle through my actions and my products and what I do.”

Ridha creating her vegan strawberry tarts in the kitchen of her home. | Courtesy of Husna Ridha

When developing recipes for her business, Ridha simplifies the process by attributing it to experimenting with recipes.

“I’ve been baking for a long time,” said Ridha. “I just started making simple cakes, cupcakes and things like that. I started doing lots of experimenting with my recipes and eventually learning to transition them to be allergy friendly. Obviously, school helped, but also a lot of YouTube and books. I am self-taught, but nutrition has definitely helped in just studying and reading a lot.”

Though Plant Based Paradise currently operates as a home-based business, Ridha envisions and plans to extend its reach beyond the confines of her home.

Ridha showcasing her dairy free strawberry cake. | Courtesy of Husna Ridha

“This year, finally, it’ll be transitioning to a commercial kitchen,” said Ridha. “I’ve been working on this for a while, but I want to offer shipping of my products nationwide. I’ve done pop-ups in the past, so the focus is the commercial kitchen.”

Despite her business expansion, Ridha clarifies there are no immediate plans to open a storefront.

Currently, Ridha is actively pursuing registration as a dietitian, recognizing the substantial advantages it will bring to the growth and success of her business.

“The next step is to become a registered dietitian,” said Ridha. “I just have to pass my registration exam. Once I pass that and become a dietitian, my desserts will be dietitian made and dietitian approved. It adds another layer of marketing too, but it’s also important because it’s, like, a health professional standing behind good quality products made with good ingredients.”

Ridha’s business, Plant Based Paradise, is accessible for orders on Instagram (@plantbasedparadise) and also features engaging content on TikTok under the same username.

Ridha’s logo for her small business, Plant Based Paradise. | Courtesy of Husna Ridha

Feature image courtesy of Husna Ridha 

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