By Kimberly Chavez from instagram @latinabaker
In hearing the word artist, the first thought that comes to mind is probably a painter, perhaps even sculptor. Artists are people who are constantly creating. At times they create in the most unconventional sort of ways. Art can be found everywhere, from an art studio, a photoshoot, a concrete wall in a street alley, a dance studio, to even a kitchen. Today we are sharing an interview we had with Kimberly Chavez, a cake artist. We were given the opportunity to learn about her as a Latina artist who started her own business and her journey in pursuing a career as a cake artist.
“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. – Mark Twain
1. What is your cultural background?I am a first generation Mexican American. I was born in San Pedro, CA. My mother is from Jerez, Zacatecas and my father from Yuriria, Guanajuato. 2. Are you bilingual or multilingual?If so, which language is your favorite to speak?I am bilingual. I speak both English and Spanish. I prefer to speak Spanish. 3. Has this form of art (being a cake artist) been your favorite form of creative expression?Or do you have other forms of expressions?Becoming a cake artist (baker) is my favorite form of creatively expressing myself. A great percentage of the cakes and desserts I make are catered to the celebrations and needs of my clients. My sole purpose is to make my client’s happy through my baking and cake decorating. There are times when baking (cake decorating) becomes my refuge, I use it to get through sad or stressful times. It helps me relax and recenter myself. 4. What is it like to be a cake artist? What does your day look like?Being a home-based cake artist entails so many other tasks. I not only bake and decorate but I am also the one that goes grocery shopping, washes dishes, cleans the kitchen, takes the cake orders, does inventory and oftentimes I deliver cakes and desserts. My busiest days are Friday & Saturdays. Wednesday-I take inventory of my refrigerator and pantry.Write down all cake flavors that I will be making for the weekend.Create a shopping list of what I need.Go shopping, usually about 3-4 stores. Fridays-I bake, fill and stack cakes.I work on any figures and decorations, allowing them time to dry.I decorate all cakes and get them ready for final touches on saturday.I sent out confirmation messages to clients and set up pick up times or delivery. Saturdays-I do final touches on cakes and they are all ready to go by noon. 5. Who has been the most supportive in your journey and how?My parents have been the most supportive on my cake decorating journey. I started baking for fun when I was 13, my grandma taught me how to make her famous flan. I fell in love with every single step of the baking process. All throughout high school I baked for friends and family; everybody loved my desserts. Once out of high school I went to college for psychology but I was bored out of my mind. I had a long talk with my parents and told them I wanted to drop out and bake. They agreed but with the condition that I enroll in culinary school and get a degree. I did my research and told them I wanted to go to the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley. We flew down for the open house and I instantly fell in love. I was also very scared to move away from home but with my parents’ love and support, I moved up north and the rest is history. Thankfully, my parents were able to pay my entire tuition, which is a blessing in and of itself. 6. What made you decide to start your own business instead of working at another bakery or cake specialty shop?Right out of culinary school I was offered a job at a 5-star, 5-diamond hotel in Beverly Hills. I took the job and worked there for about 3 years. I loved everything about the job except the time away from friends and family. It was a great learning experience because I got to work with amazing and talented chefs. I was raised in a household where family means everything, I hated working holidays and birthdays and not being around my family. That’s when I decided to start my business and home, once I got my clientele I quit my hotel job and continued to work from home. 7. What struggles have you experienced in pursuing your career as a female Latina?There have been many struggles with being a Latina in the food industry such as not being taken seriously or people doubting my ability to make this a full time job. The biggest struggle is being told that I’m charging too much for my desserts or cakes. I feel like that is the biggest slap in the face. I am educated and talented, I pour my heart and soul into my work, I am worth every penny and more. I feel like there is this unspoken rule that “Mexicans or Latinos, will do the work cheaper for you”, that’s not the case here, if others can earn a living from baking at home, why can’t I? 8. What has been your most artistically challenging cake to make?The most challenging cake for me was my first wedding cake. Not only because it was my first ever wedding cake but it was also 4-tiers and I had to deliver it all by myself 20 miles away from my home. Wedding cakes are so special to me because they signify such a huge milestone in somebody’s life. The entire time I was making this cake, I kept doubting myself, I kept thinking how silly I was for agreeing to such a huge project. On delivery day, I realized I couldn’t drive with the cake fully tiered so I had to take the tiers apart and I would have to stack them at the venue. I was so scared but once I got there everything went smoothly. The bride came to see the cake and she was in tears, she loved it so much. I stood there with her and cried, I was so proud of myself. From then on I learned to never doubt myself and to always push myself to become a better cake decorator. 9. Were there people who discouraged you from pursuing this type of career?There weren’t really people in my life that discouraged me from my career but there are always those that never have anything nice to say. Those nasty and rude comments from people made me realize that I was doing something right. I kept pushing to be a better person and I just focused on perfecting my craft. 10. What encouraging words could you give to kids who pursue art as a career?This might sound cheesy but my favorite quote by Mark Twain is, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I wake up every morning excited for what lies ahead. I love baking and cake decorating, I don’t think I could have found a better profession. 11. What do you dream for the future?I dream to continue my cake decorating business. I just want to create beautiful cakes and make my clients happy. I love being a part of their special occasions. It’s truly an honor. Kimberly shared with us how her cultural background, the support from her family, the influence from her grandmother and her famous flan, led her to become a professional baker and cake artist. As a female Latina she pursued her passion and made it into a business. Find her on Instagram under the handle, @latinabaker for inquiries and to see more of her creations!