Business booms for baker after news of how Tesla cancelled a $16,000 Black History Month order went viral

BY Preta Peace Namasaba February 29, 2024 9:25 AM EDT
Voahangy Rasetarinera. Photo credit: Voahangy Rasetarinera

Voahangy Rasetarinera, owner of The Giving Pies immediately got to work when she received a last-minute catering contract from Tesla on Valentine’s Day. The Black-owned bakery was to make 2,000 pies at $6,000 for a Black History Month event. But what had seemed a major coup for the small business, soon took a nasty turn.

Rasetarinera had to chase Tesla several times about payment for the order, money needed to secure ingredients and pay her staff. She was later contacted by a Tesla representative named Laura who apologized for the delayed payment and increased the order to 4,000 pies for $16, 000. She assured Rasetarinera that money was not an issue. The business was forced to turn down other Black History Month catering jobs to complete Tesla’s order. To fulfil a demanding production schedule, Rasetarinera and her team had to work overtime.

After taking all the necessary steps to meet her side of the bargain, Rasetarinera received a simple text message canceling the order. She was left reeling by the casual cancellation. Rasetarinera had worked on similar big jobs for companies like Google, Apple and Adobe but had never run into such troubles. Although the bakery had a cancellation policy, there was no way to recover expenses as Tesla hadn’t yet paid for the products.

Rasetarinera took to social media to express her dissatisfaction with how Tesla handled the matter. She shared her story “How Tesla’s action hurt my small Black women-owned business” on The Giving Pie’s Facebook page.
“To me, it was clear that Tesla’s corporate culture prioritized convenience over accountability, disregarding the livelihoods of small business owners like myself. This experience serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerability faced by small businesses when dealing with larger corporations. Despite our best efforts to uphold our commitments and provide quality service, we are often left at the mercy of decisions made in corporate boardrooms,” Rasetarinera wrote.

The Giving Pies has since received enormous support from the community. Over the weekend, hundreds of customers waited in line at the store to purchase pies with many first-time customers coming in. People from around the Bay Area, San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan and former Mayor Sam Liccardo have all rallied behind the small business. Rasetarinera who didn’t expect to receive such massive support has been overwhelmed but also immensely grateful for the large turnout.

The business has also received donations and goodwill from across the US and other parts of the world such as the Netherlands and Sweden. Rasetarinera reveals that she has received messages and orders from all over the world.
“I feel super grateful and super supported. People placing orders like ‘I live in Canada, I just want to support you.’ They place an order and say ‘just give it to anybody,’” Rasetarinera said about the tremendous support she’s received.

In response to a story about the cancelled order, Tesla founder Elon Musk promised to “make things good” with the company. “Just hearing about this. Will make things good with the bakery. People should always be able to count on Tesla trying its best,” Musk said on X (formerly Twitter).

Before Musk’s reaction, a representative of Tesla had reached out to Rasetarinera explaining that it was a misunderstanding. Apparently, Laura was not authorized to approve payments. Although Tesla has requested her services for two events in March, the bakery owner has had to turn down that offer. She however remains open to working with the company.
“Unfortunately, I cannot do their catering event because with all the business that we got we depleted our stock of crust, and then we also have Pi Day to prepare for, so there’s no way,” Rasetarinera explained why she turned down Tesla’s subsequent offers.