an interview with cynthia
Can you share a bit about yourself and your journey to becoming a "Girl Boss" in your field?
Hi! My name is Cynthia Guerra, and I was born in Long Beach, California, but moved to Las Vegas once I was about to start middle school. I lived in Las Vegas until I was 29 years old. I really wanted to pursue my dream as a baker, so when I turned 30 years old, I finally decided to move back to Long Beach, take some baking courses, and work at a bakery. It’s been 6 years since I left Las Vegas, and I didn’t know anyone. I lived with my grandma for a while. I worked at a few bakeries, but when the pandemic hit, that’s when Kitchen Princess was born. I made cakes for fun to practice my piping and baking, and I would post them on Instagram to share my work with everyone. People enjoyed my work and would ask if I made custom cakes. I was scared, thinking my work wasn't good enough to sell. I would only make them for my friends, but once I got asked to do a pop-up, that’s when I just went for it. Kitchen Princess took off during the pandemic. I had pop-ups every other month, making custom cakes, and delivering all over California. I never thought this would happen. It was a difficult time for everyone, but I felt like my work made people happy, bringing some light and joy.
What inspired you to pursue your current career path?
Japan! I love sweets and food, thinking of what bakery I want to try next. However, it was never as cute as what you see in Japanese cafes. I would go everywhere and just want a pastry that tastes good and looks like a shape of a bear or a cake that looks like a present. So, I thought I want to make that for me and for people who appreciate and love sweets like this.
How did you design and personalize your workspace to reflect your style and motivation?
I always surround myself with cute trinkets, plushies, and vintage home goods, mixing them around my little studio. It’s basically a little kitchen nook with a bed. I don’t have much space, but I’m grateful for everything I have around me. When I wake up, I see my mixer and cake pans, and I’m like, okay, let’s start these orders.
Are there specific elements or items in your workspace that hold special significance to you?
My mixer and all my little figures and plushies that my customers and friends gave me. They are the sweetest, and they are usually baking related too.
Can you share a challenging moment in your career and how you overcame it?
Kitchen Princess blossomed and was growing so much. I was working at a bakery full time, working 3 am-11 am and would go home to do cakes for my customers for 2 years straight. The orders were getting heavier, and I wasn’t sleeping much. I really loved my day job and loved making cakes. That’s why I was doing it for 2 years straight. But I was so scared to make that jump and make Kitchen Princess my full-time job. I couldn’t decide, so I kept working both because I’m insane. The bakery I was working at had a bad flood, and we were closed for 2 weeks. I was lucky that I had Kitchen Princess orders that helped me financially through that time. It was almost like a test that forced me to see that I was going to be okay if I made that jump. When I came back to my day job, I put in my notice. I never felt so scared in my life.
What's a professional achievement you're most proud of, and how did you reach that milestone?
Quitting my job and starting my own cake business. I have no clue; I just kept going. I was delirious half that time and didn’t have time to think too much, to be completely honest.
Walk us through a typical day in your professional life. Any rituals or routines that keep you focused and motivated?
I wake up around 3 am and work until about 5 pm, depending on pick-up times and how many cakes I have for that day. My kitchen is sterilized the night before, but I like to wipe everything again before I set up. My kitchen is small, so I have a system on how I set up my station. I start my crumb coat and fillings on my cakes first and then start the decoration process after. I am usually done with my orders around 11:00am-11:30 am, then pick-ups start 4:00 pm. I meet and talk to my customers, confirm orders, and answer
Are there any women who have significantly influenced your career or personal development?
My friend Shelley, a hairstylist, inspired me with her work ethic and how much she loves her job. She didn’t have to say anything; you could see how she would work. I was like, I want this but in baking. I want to be a great baker and push myself to be where I want to be. She has her own salon now. So now I said to myself, let’s get this cute small bakery.
What advice would you give to aspiring women in your industry?
You have to really, really love what you do and believe in yourself! This is not easy, and it's still not easy. There’s going to be family and friends doubting you, including yourself. I felt like quitting 100 times already; that’s normal. Take pride in your work and share it with everyone and keep sharing it. Show it off; you worked hard on it!
How do you maintain a work-life balance, especially in a fast-paced environment?
I don’t, I’m terrible at it! That's what I need to work on. I’m sorry!
What activities or practices contribute to your overall well-being outside of work?
I love eating out alone and trying new bakeries. I enjoy going to cute stores and buying stickers and candy.
Are there any projects or goals you're excited about pursuing in the future?
I want to have my own bakery, and I want it to be cute and respected because it's delicious and cute.
If you could share one piece of advice with young women entering your industry, what would it be?
Be yourself; it’s okay to say no to things that you are not comfortable or not happy doing.
What mantra or quote keeps you inspired during challenging times?
"Fall down seven times, get up eight" - Denzel Washington