A Whangarei cake-making business is on the way to seeing its products served up on one of the world's top airlines.
Kamo-based Raw Cakes is on the verge of closing a deal to supply Air New Zealand with its 100 per cent natural ingredient cakes.
Co-owner Angeleen Lewers, who started the business in January last year, said negotiations were nearly complete.
"So far we have been told by the team manager that they want our product for business class, long-haul flights as well as to fulfil special meal orders [business or economy]," said the 33-year-old mother of two.
Air NZ's inflight catering team had trialled all of the company's cakes and chose Passionfruit and After Dinner Mint, she said.
The 12-month supply contract starts later this year but in the meantime the business has some requirements to tick off - an inspection of the commercial kitchen, confirmation of ingredients used and that Raw Cakes could meet Air NZ's demands.
All ingredients in Raw Cakes' products are completely natural. There are no numbers, artificial flavours or colours in their ingredients list.
Mrs Lewers said that having successfully established Raw Cakes last year, then known as Petra's Raw Cakes, the decision was made to take the business to a new level.
"We were left to decide to branch out into the cafe and catering arena, or knuckle down to focus on a national level - which has come with a huge financial loss for now - but we are so grateful with the encouragement and support from Whangarei," she said.
Mrs Lewers, who started the business from a dozen hand-scribbled recipes with the dream of creating a family business with her mum, said she felt "extremely overwhelmed, bloody excited and a little bit scared".
"This has been in the pipeline for the past seven months [the Air NZ contract]. The prospect of having our hand-made raw cakes on Air NZ has driven our path into having a commercial kitchen and closing the retail shop to keep it simple.
"Not everyone is given the chance to have their product on an award-winning airline."
It was a risk knowing they would become less accessible to the public by closing the shop, Mrs Lewers said, "but slowly the public are learning where we are and what we are doing. The support has been amazing, humbling and soul nurturing."
Raw Cakes' products are currently in Kamo Bin Inn and Tikipunga Fresh Foods and approaches have been made to cafes and shops in Whangarei to supply product, because of existing customer demand.
"We have employed an Auckland agent who is on the hunt for us down there, getting us into some artisan grocers and cafes.
"New Zealand on a whole is new to the concept of raw natural eating in comparison to our cousins in Australia so there is a bit of hesitation but they fall in love once they take a bite."
Mrs Lewers, who was raised in Hukerenui and went to Kamo High School, said she expected to employ more staff as a result of the contract with Air NZ.
"Mum and I run the business with one staff member who has been with me since the day we opened, an asset to our trio.
"We have blueprinted the way for further staff, brainstorming how we will manage the workload and keep our values and needs a priority, so in months to come I can see our team doubling - thankfully we have an expandable workspace to incorporate the growth."
Mrs Lewers said the negotiating with Air NZ was done as a team and the rebranding from Petra's Raw Cakes to Raw Cakes was about creating a national, commercial brand.
A former nurse, Mrs Lewers created the raw cakes concept after investigating health and nutrition. She got interested in raw foods, because she was gluten, dairy and egg intolerant, and this approach seemed like a very safe option.
A friend in Australia helped her with the concepts and recipes that formed into the business.
"It was a gamble to start this new and interesting venture, but the enthusiasm and support from Whangarei has been amazing."