Saipan Correspondent

Jennifer Ortiz is shown in Jhen’s Sweet Corner, which expanded to its Dandan property in April.
Photo by Iva Maurin

LOWER DANDAN, Saipan — With a $40,000 investment, new entrepreneurs Jerome and Jennifer Ortiz built what could be the most charming dessert shop in the Northern Mariana Islands.

Jhen’s Sweet Corner, a hard-to-miss, bright pink, 65 square meter bakery and confectionery along Chalan Monsignor Road in Lower Dandan, Saipan, was opened by the husband-and-wife team in April.

The Instagrammable shop seats about 23, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the business is only allowing 17 people to dine in at any given time. It took the couple three months to complete the shop. From a home-based business, Jhen’s Sweet Corner now employs three staff.

Social media played a big role in shaping Jhen’s. The couple told the Journal they started as a home business and used social media as a platform to market their products. 

“I discovered my passion for baking when I started making cakes for my kids during their birthdays and other occasions,” Jennifer Ortiz said. “I always posted my crafts on social media, specifically on Facebook, and a lot of people noticed it. I was encouraged by my husband to turn it into a business when he saw the potential, and that’s how Jhen’s Sweet Corner was born.”

According to Jerome Ortiz, they have established a great clientele base doing business from home, and that it is their clients who pushed them to put up a storefront for their cake business. 

“It was a risk to us when we decided to open our shop during the pandemic but as an entrepreneur, I and my wife trusted our gut instinct and not our spreadsheet. I know that the community is looking for an alternative way to lessen their stress due to the pandemic,” he added.

For the couple, doing their best to create custom cakes based on their clients’ specifications is a way for the couple to help ease the stress that the community is experiencing due to the global epidemic.

Starting the business in the middle of a global health crisis was not an easy feat either. The couple encountered issues, especially in terms of the inventory for their shop. Materials that they wanted were not all easily obtainable in Saipan, but they “found ways to make it work” by being resourceful and creative. 

In terms of management, Jennifer Ortiz said it’s a 50-50 share of responsibilities between the couple.

“My husband takes care of the logistics and I take care of the production. And we both manage the finances,” she said. “I am a full-time baker while my husband is a full-time information technology personnel at the Northern Marianas College. On top of that, we’re hands-on parents to five handsome boys. How do we manage? I think it’s just proper planning and coordination amongst us.”

Demand for cakes and sweets on Saipan is very high. Aside from custom cakes, the business also specializes in macarons, cupcakes, and cakepops, and can cater for events.

“I think what sets us apart from the other bakeshops here on the island is we’re not a traditional bakeshop that only bakes cake. We bake and design it with love. And the taste and quality of our custom-designed cakes make us unique from the others.”

For aspiring entrepreneurs and fellow small business owners, Jerome Ortiz said his advice is to stay hungry and ambitious, not to take ‘no’ for an answer, and to inspire people around them. 

“Even though sometimes you fail, never give up. Fear of failure is one reason that many entrepreneurs fall by the wayside. Successful entrepreneurs view failure as a positive experience. It is something to learn from and overcome in the future,” he said. 

“Don’t stop wanting to learn new things, because the moment that complacency sets in, you allow others to overtake you and leave you behind. Never stand still, evolve with the times. Always find ways to develop and upgrade both yourself and your business.”

Jhen’s Sweet Corner is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call (670) 286-2733 or visit the Facebook page at