Sweet Success

How Abby Jimenez went from maternity leave to Cupcake Wars winner in 3 years.

By Dana Severson

Company » Nadia Cakes

What They Do » Retailer of gourmet cupcakes and decorated cakes

Website »

Success » In 2008, while pregnant and looking for a way to bring in additional money for her family, Abby Jimenez took a cake decorating class. While she wasn't able to complete the course, it was enough to discover a passion. What began as a part-time hobby quickly trans- formed into a nationally recognized gourmet cake brand, Nadia Cakes. Jimenez has been featured on TLC's "Fabulous Cakes" and was a winner on Food Networks' "Cupcake Wars".

How They Did It » With a good job as a retail-sales manager, Abby Jimenez wasn't looking for any unnecessary risks. Approaching maternity leave with her third child, she was beginning to sense her position wasn't as secure as she hoped and looked for ways to earn extra money.

Jimenez took a cake decorating course, but with a month remaining, she got carpal tunnel and had to quit. After corrective surgery, she decided to try cake decorating again and began to fill orders part-time out of her house. Still on maternity leave, Jimenez was concerned that if her employer found out, she'd be fired. to be safe, rather than naming the business after herself, she named it after middle daughter, Nadia, whose nickname is Nadia Cakes.

With a stressful schedule focused on taking care of three young children as well as making and delivering cakes, Jimenez decided to leave her job. Nadia Cakes was doing well and orders were rolling in.

Everything came to a crashing halt after a visit from the Department of health. Since the business was in-home, Nadia Cakes was forced to cease production and cancel orders. two months later, Jimenez and her husband Carlos decided to open a store; maxing out their credit cards with $137,000 in construction and infrastructure costs.

the risk paid off. In November 2009, Nadia Cakes opened in Palmdale, CA to immediate fanfare. on the first day, Jimenez was greeted with a line out the door. At the end of that day, the store had generated enough to pay both her mortgage and monthly rent.

the business continues to be a success. today, Abby and Carlos Jimenez have paid off nearly all of their debt. they've gone from a single employee to over 50 and won numerous awards. Most recently, after evaluating 23 different markets, they moved to the twin Cities and expanded their operations by opening their second location in Maple Grove in July.