Heavenly Yet Beautiful Cupcakes

Starting my own cupcake company was a thrill and I learn so much. But I yearned for the calm of taking my time to create perfect little decorations and unique flavor combinations. After selling my business, I decided to focus on teaching my craft. I hope this site will inspire you to create and indulge in one of the best and most satisfying desserts...the cupcake.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Me, The Little Sea Turtle

I recently was laid off, as many others have been in the wake of this disastrous economy. Unfortunately this is not my first time. I was laid off when I was 27 years old. I had climbed the marketing ropes very quickly and found myself as the Director of Marketing for a very large global company before the age of 30. Boy was I spoiled. I was young and making more money than I knew what to do with. I lived in Beverly Hills, drove an adorable sporty car large enough to fit my shopping bags and myself. But that all ended in the Fall of 2001.  After the lay off I found myself completely over qualified for any job for a girl my age and yet completely under qualified because I was such a young Marketing Director. The blow came when a head hunter asked me to dumb down my resume so I could get an entry level position. I was horrified and am ashamed to admit that I tried one night after several glasses of wine and in tears to remove all accomplishments from my resume. But I just couldn't do it. I had worked hard to get to where I was. And yes, lucky too. I have always been lucky. But at that moment, I felt like my luck had run out. I lost everything, my apartment, my car and my cute blond haired blue eyed perfect boyfriend.  I didn't ask my parents for help nor did I crawl back to the East Coast. Instead I decided to try and survive this, but more importantly to recover on my own. I collected unemployment and took a job as a make-up artist as that was a job I did very well at when I was in college. And I survived, barely and with bouts of depression, but I survived.  I promised myself that if I ever got laid off again I would re-evaluate my life. Because once is okay, a learning experience,  but twice? Well maybe that's the universe's way to say...Paola, wake up.
So 5 years later I moved back from L.A to the East Coast after surviving a serious car accident that begged the question: What on earth are you doing so far from your family? So I packed my bags and moved back. I was lucky to find a fabulous marketing job and my life didn't skip a beat. And I will brag just a tad here, I am a fabulous creative marketing diva. I love everything about marketing. I did very well at my new company. But, honestly, I never thought I would stay there long because I wanted to create my own legacy. I felt that I needed to do something on my own. I knew I had the creative talent to do it...but I just didn't know what that "it" was. And then it happened and it was the aftermath of an ad I developed for my company. I was asked by my boss to create a bridal ad using a beautiful 9 carat ring. Yes, I did try it on and I left it on while I ate my lunch the day of the photoshoot. It was my moment of fantasy even though I never could imagine myself owning something the size of an ice skating rink. I decided what better way to showcase this ring than to make a little fun of it. Now, a little side note here. I had just moved from Los Angeles where cupcakes had just hit the streets of Beverly Hills and I was one of the many that stood in line for hours to get a Sprinkles cupcake. Two hours to be exact. So back to the ad. I wanted to place the ring on top of a cupcake and add the tag: Just a Little Frosting (cute, right?). But I wanted a beautiful dainty cupcake and no one sold such a thing. So, I called the Four Seasons Hotel and asked to speak the the pastry chef. After several meetings he created a cupcake with a swan on top. Not exactly what I was hoping for. So, in order to show him what I was thinking, I went home that Friday and purchased about $100 worth of books, fondant, tools and edible dyes from Michaels. I spent the whole weekend making cupcakes and decorating them like little wedding cakes, fondant and sugar flowers et al. I took pictures with my cell phone of some and sent it to the chef. The bulb went off and he created a masterpiece. But he also sent me an email suggesting I take up cake decorating as he thought my work was "quite impressive". 
I did. But I wanted to do everything with cupcakes as I find them to be the perfect little dessert, a personal treat not to be shared but to be enjoyed by anyone. I dug out my favorite family recipes and started spending every weekend creating delicious yet pretty cupcakes.
And that brings me to now. While working at my company I had created a fabulous little side business specializing in gourmet couture cupcakes. I had two lives, baker and executive. And I believe it was a little blessing from above. Because as things were moving along in new my cupcake world...I got laid off, again. I was shocked but I also wasn't. And this time I felt like I would be okay. At least so far Mr. Depression hasn't come knocking. And how can he, I make beautiful cupcakes...I make people little cakes of happiness. But I forced myself to take one week to really think things over. I gave myself a mini vacation to Mexico to visit my Grandmother, a woman I greatly admire who oozes wisdom. I wanted to put everything in perspective and what better place than on a beautiful beach with not a soul in site. My only company every day are a bunch of pelicans cruising the surf for brunch and little baby sea turtles making their way to the sea. And yes, I have helped some that lost their way. What can I say...everyone needs a little direction sometimes. However, I can only imagine how mortified they must feel when faced with the crushing and powerful waves that they are forced to go through before entering their new world.
 I, like those little sea turtles, am in transition, leaving the comfort of corporate America bound to the land of entrepreneurs. Scared? Frightened actually. But I've never felt more confident with a decision that will impact my life forever.
From this point on I will document my journey to my new world as an entrepreneur and along the way I hope to inspire others to transition into something that makes them happier and fulfilled. And if not, at least I hope to share some great tricks and ideas on how to make beautiful and delicious cupcakes.


RuthWells said...

This resonates with me -- last week we announced salary cuts at my company, and my reaction was to talk to my local market about carrying entremets and French macarons. I'm not going to make much money at it, but it will be soul-fulfilling.

Alison said...

I just found your blog and I obviously didn't look very carefully, because I would have noticed you were brand new! Nonetheless I added you to my RSS feeder, because I too love cupcakes. And, I keep taking them to parties and folks keep telling me I should make it a business...don't worry I am in Colorado, so no competition! Thanks for sharing your story and your inspiration! And may life bless your new path!

Veron said...

Paola...you are at the crossroads as i am. I work my day job because it is not feasible to quit right now and pursue my love of baking as a business...but my company is not doing well and if they lay me off it is a sign for me to go full flight into my baking business. Your journey is one I will follow and it might inspire me to just take that big step!

Sweet Things said...

I had butterflies reading your story - thank you for sharing - it is so close to my story right now. I'm almost ready to share my story. You almost don't want to tell the story until you've fully made your comeback in that new, scary, exciting direction!

I'm 90% there - it's been stressful but oh so sweet! Juanita

Ruth said...

what a great inspiration!

Cupcakeliious said...

Wow Paula! Such an inspirational story. I’ve just started to venture into this cupcakes world and came upon your blog. I’m scared and excited at the same time but your story just gave me that extra “you can do it” push. Thank you for sharing your story along with the beautiful cupcakes. You are very talented!