We had the good fortune of connecting with Gabriela Espitia and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gabriela, what is the most important factor behind your success?
When I think about the most crucial factor to my success, the main thing that comes to mind is my age. I started this business when I was 10 years old. As small children often do, I loved the idea and art of baking; getting my hands dirty with flour or butter was always a fun time for me. It always made me happy when being exposed to any kind of baking either at home or school. However, it became a business for me at the end of my Fourth Grade after earning first place at my elementary’s science fair. My project was a baking-related one where I was assessing how heat affected the height of baked goods. More specifically, brownies. Needless to say, after 12 baking rounds for my project’s data collection, my love for baking was cemented. That was the beginning of my home-baking business which has now been going strong since March 2016.
The first year, all my customers came solely from family and friends’ word-of-mouth. Once in middle school, I jumped on Instagram as @gabis.goodies to help promote my baked goods, and that was the best decision ever made for my business. I opened my social media account hoping I would get a few extra customers a month so I could enjoy some on-the-side baking and make some money in the process, but I never imagined the number of people that would reach out to me due to the small exposure I was getting online. I have always run that IG account very organically – no strict posting schedule or paid posts. In trying to find the perfect balance between school responsibilities, baking orders, and the normal events of a young teenager, more often than not, that leaves little to no time for a beautifully curated IG feed. But I decided early on to focus on my baking skills and let my creations speak for themselves. Once local customers find me and order cupcakes for their special event, they themselves become promoters of my business.
Most certainly, when customers find out my age, they find that quite impressive and always make a big deal. They are taken aback by the fact that an 11- or 13-year-old kid is dedicating their free time to bake for others. The most shocking aspect of it all is when they realize the caliber of my work even though I have had no formal training or enough years of life experience to pull it all off. That, I can surely say, has turned out to be my business’ biggest strength. Being a young, self-taught baker (thank you, YouTube) has made me a memorable experience for the many customers I have met over the years. Many of them email me after they have had my cupcakes to confess they ordered purely out of curiosity; to prove if the real thing tasted as good as the photos looked online. Once they realize they do, they come back weeks or months later and place orders for their birthdays, baby showers, or corporate events.
As more of my cupcakes are seen and eaten at various local events, the more exposure my brand gets, which in turn allows for my business to keep growing. Through the years, I have also had the honor to participate in a couple of local entrepreneurs’ business fairs and been a guest panelist at one of Miami’s Chamber of Commerce entrepreneurship focus sessions. Being out in public is not one of my favorite aspects of my business, but I realize those opportunities have also been an essential part of my growth. When I sit down and look back at my baking photos or videos, I can clearly see the growth in my decoration skills, packaging styles, and branding. As I have gotten older and matured in every way, so have my brand and customer loyalty.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a teen baker who specializes in cupcakes and mini loaves for all occasions. My goodies come in a range of traditional and modern flavors and designs. Everything is baked to order. I use word of mouth and Instagram to promote my business. I started my business in 2016. Some of the lessons that I’ve learned are mostly about time management, costs and expenses, dealing with vendors, and customer service.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take them to any of my two favorite spots – Lincoln Road and Coconut Grove.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my parents because without their support my efforts would have not gone this far. I also want to recognize all the people who have throughout the years supported my business by becoming repeat customers and always having nothing but kind words to say about my baking aspirations.