Alannah Johnson and Rebecca Kameika, winners of the 2022 Path to Prosperity Competition, pose for a photo at the formal winners’ announcement at the 2022 Mid-Session Summit at Southeast Conference Tuesday. In addition to each being awarded $25,000 to help expand their businesses, they each received a Tlingit wall carving, hand-crafted by Brian Chilton. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Alannah Johnson and Rebecca Kameika, winners of the 2022 Path to Prosperity Competition, pose for a photo at the formal winners’ announcement at the 2022 Mid-Session Summit at Southeast Conference Tuesday. In addition to each being awarded $25,000 to help expand their businesses, they each received a Tlingit wall carving, hand-crafted by Brian Chilton. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

After winning competition, Southeast businesses ready for next steps

$50,000 Path to Prosperity goes to entrepreneurs in Juneau and Haines.

Path to Prosperity Competition grant money will be used by winning Southeast Alaska business owners to expand their commercial room and their mushrooms, respectively.

Owners of two Southeast Alaska businesses, Rebecca Kameika of Costa Brava, Bakery & Pâtisserie in Haines and Alannah Johnson of New Earth Fungi in Juneau, were selected as the winners of the 2022 Path to Prosperity Competition, and were each awarded $25,000 to grow their businesses. Additionally, as a way of commemorating their achievements, Kameika and Johnson each received a Tlingit wall carving, hand-crafted by Brian Chilton, as part of the formal winners’ announcement at the 2022 Mid-Session Summit hosted by Southeast Conference on Tuesday.

Kameika, 39, has been running Costa Brava, Bakery & Pâtisserie since 2020 shortly after moving to Haines from Atlanta one year prior. Known as a high-end pastry shop that specializes in custom wedding cakes, celebration cakes and pastries that take inspiration from Spanish and French cuisine, Kameika said baking has always been a lifelong passion but hasn’t always been afforded the opportunity to pursue it full time until now. Additionally, Kameika said that while the news of winning was somewhat of a shock, it also serves as a wake up call to make decisions about a passion project becoming a full-time business.

“Ever since I was a kid I loved baking and I wanted to go to culinary school and my dad said, ‘You need to get a real degree first,’” Kameika said. “I think I might have even cried on the phone when they told me I had won. I have a full time job in marketing, so I realized after receiving the news that decisions have to be made, instead of keeping one foot in and one foot out, it’s now about making those types of decisions. Most specifically, I want to use the grant money for more equipment but the natural next step for me because I’m bursting at the seams from predominantly operating out of my home under the Cottage Food Act, is to move into a commercial space. That’s really the next step that I need to take.”

Originally from Southern California, Johnson, 35, has been living in Juneau since 2014 and has been studying mushrooms for over 10 years, which she said was a fascination she brought with her upon transferring to University of Alaska Southeast. While New Earth Fungi is currently operated out of Johnson’s home and has been since it opened in 2020, she still services a large clientele in town that includes both local restaurants and grocery stores. Johnson also offers local mushroom foraging tours and cultivation workshops where locals and visitors alike can learn about the rich mycological ecosystems of Juneau.

“I just was super fascinated by all of the diversity of fungi here, so when I transferred to UAS I studied biology there and I just kind of turned all of my biology projects into mycology projects and eventually started a mycology club at UAS, started doing some mushroom cultivation projects with the community and continued to learn from there,” Johnson said. “I just want to expand and provide more things to this community, as well as other communities within Southeast and really just deep dive into the education aspect of it, too, because I really do think that it would be really cool to share mushroom cultivation with other people, especially tourists coming in to visit this place.”

Independent judges selected Kameika and Johnson from a cohort of 12 finalists who participated in Path to Prosperity’s three-day in-person business boot camp in October in Juneau. There, the entrepreneurs learned about triple-bottom-line principles, worked with mentors, and received one-on-one consulting to develop their business models and plans. Following this intensive business training weekend, the finalists then spent two months working with Spruce Root business coaches to create thorough business plans and pitch videos to be submitted to the judges. Spruce Root is a Juneau-based nonprofit community development financial institution that describes itself as “driver of a regenerative economy across Southeast Alaska so communities can forge futures grounded in this uniquely Indigenous place.” The winners were selected based on the feasibility, social impact and environmental sustainability of their businesses.

With 2023 being the competition’s 10th year in operation, Competition administrator Izzy Haywood said it continues to become increasingly more challenging for judges to select only two winners because of the amount of interest and because of the innovative and appealing business plans the finalists each submit. Haywood said both Kameika and Johnson were selected based on their unique business approaches and how well they each serve their respective communities.

“For Alannah, for the industry that she’s in, the way it addresses food security in Juneau without bringing in that much external material and how she’s growing her business and has proven the demand by working with so many restaurants and collaborations already,” Haywood said. “For Rebecca, she put together an incredibly meticulous business plan and she really was able to prove the growth and demand of the wedding industry in Haines. Also, the idea that she wants to serve Skagway and Haines, just really focusing on two communities that don’t have too many year-round restaurants and how there’s really a need for that.”

Haywood added that this year the format of the Path to Prosperity competition will be shifting from the traditional 10-month cycle to Path to Prosperity Business & Balance, a nine-week course that will be held twice per year. In this new evolution of the program, Haywood said participants will complete an online course focused on building a business that is in line with their values and then will have the option to apply for award funding. Haywood said applications for Path to Prosperity Business & Balance will be open on Feb. 13.

“We’re making this shift for a few different reasons but mainly because we’ve had so many people apply to the competition when we can only train 12 a year when there’s so much more demand than that,” Haywood said. “We want to be able to bring this program to more entrepreneurs, so by transitioning into this new course that we’re calling business and balance it’s going to be a nine week online course and it will be run multiple times throughout the year, so we’ll be able to serve more people through the online course.”

• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at

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