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Ukrainian refugee's joy for baking becomes a "little business" in Downtown SLO

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Gabriela Fernandez
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Masha Schroeder (L) and her mother Inna Kliuieva (R) in downtown San Luis Obispo.

Millions of refugees are fleeing Ukraine amid the Russian invasion there. One refugee is now living with her daughter on the Central Coast, selling traditional Ukrainian pastries in Downtown San Luis Obispo.

Her name is Inna Kliuieva, and she comes from an eastern town in Ukraine called Luhansk. She said when the Russian invasion began last year, she made her way to SLO to live with her daughter, Masha Schroeder.

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Nextdoor / Masha Schroeder
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Inna Kliuieva's homemade blueberry sweet buns.

Because Kliuieva speaks Russian, Schroeder sat alongside her mother to help tell her story.

“I had to call them, wake them up at like five AM and be like, wake up, the war started! It was pretty crazy. At first they didn't believe me, like, what are you talking about? No, it's impossible. And so then we had to find [a] way to get her here,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder said her mother’s journey was long, but necessary. She said right now, the Russian troops are occupying her mother’s town, so there’s no active fighting — but, if you are pro-Ukranian you can not tell anyone.

“It's extremely difficult to [do] any traveling and it's extremely difficult for you to live there. Most people who support Ukraine left and if you have a family there, you know, elderly parents you have to take care of them [and] you just have to keep quiet to not have any issues,” Schroeder said.

Now that she’s made her way to San Luis Obispo, Kliuieva said she loves it here. In her down time she likes to hike, go to the ocean and bake delicious Ukrainian pastries at home.

Because of Kliuieva’s joy for baking, Schroeder decided to join the social media platform, Nextdoor, to advertise her mothers pastries for sale.

But then, something unexpected happened.

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Nextdoor / Masha Schroeder
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Inna Kliuieva's homemade raisin and sugar pastries.

After their first post, Kliuieva and Schroeder were immediately flooded with messages from locals ordering sweet buns and loaves of bread.

“It's kind of funny how her baking joy became a little business. Once in a while she bakes and people in San Luis Obispo surprisingly have been extremely supportive," Schroeder said.

"So when I posted her pictures of her pastries online, I didn't expect that anybody would even text us back and we actually got pretty awesome feedback.”

Kliuieva and Schroeder were overjoyed by the response, saying they have never experienced such overwhelming support.

“Most Americans know about Ukraine only because of the horror of the war. And through this little page on Nextdoor, she's very happy that she can introduce Americans to something more positive, like tasty food that everybody can experience,” Schroeder said.

If you live in SLO, you can order Ukrainian pastries like sweet buns with apples and cinnamon, raisins and sugar or blueberries from Schroeder and Kliuieva on the Nextdoor app.

Gabriela Fernandez is a general assignment reporter at KCBX News. She graduated from Sacramento State with a BA in Political Science. During her senior year, she interned at CapRadio in their podcast department, and later worked for them as an Associate Producer on the TahoeLand podcast.
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