Candy Ramirez was a young girl when her “Nana Lupe” taught her to bake. And it soon became clear that she was very good at it. She spent hours memorizing family cake recipes and learned about the importance of baking with pure ingredients and love. She began entering local baking contests and won prizes for her beautiful cakes.

Today, Candy, now 28, is a hard-working Latina entrepreneur who owns and runs Candy’s Cakes & More, a bakery in Tucson, Arizona. Her bakery’s social media pages include many photos of her handiwork – cakes, cookies and cupcakes that can only be described as works of art.

Candy grew up in Arizona, largely raised by her great-grandparents and grandparents while her mother worked long hours in the bakery of a nearby grocery store. Her great grandparents and grandparents immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the 1940’s and had very strong beliefs about a women’s role in a Mexican-American home. Candy seemed destined to follow a traditional course: marry, have children and spend her days taking care of her family and home.

At the age of 17, Candy had her first son, Andrew. The relationship with the boy’s father did not work out, and Candy quickly found herself taking care of a baby as well as her mother, who was suffering from physical disabilities. While other young women were applying for college, Candy was working two jobs for little pay, concerned each month about paying the bills. She was stretched to the limit – both financially and emotionally.   

Throughout this time, Candy continued to bake as a hobby, further honing her skill and passion for baking.

Aware of her talents, friends and relatives would ask her to bake cakes for birthdays, quinceañeras and other celebrations. Occasionally they paid her for them, but often she felt embarrassed to ask for money, and she would give them away for free. As word traveled about the exquisite cakes, Candy’s luck began to change. Cake orders started coming in from local companies, and Candy began to develop a paying customer base. Candy had found her calling.

In 2014, Candy was invited to attend an event that was part of “The Adelante Movement.” Adelante (Move Forward), founded by Nely Galan, is a grassroots movement designed to unite and empower Latinas in the United States economically through a variety of events offering inspiration, motivation, training and resources on entrepreneurship. It is also a part of The Coca-Cola Company’s global 5by20 initiative, which aims to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs across the company’s value chain by the year 2020.

Through Adelante, she received business advice and training, and was inspired by the successful women who filled the room. 

“Adelante was a turning point for me,” says Candy. “For the first time, I was around other women who had careers while also raising families. It showed me I could do that too.” She was determined to turn her baking hobby into a profitable career. 

Now, Candy’s Cakes & More has an impressive social media reach on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube – with a combined following of nearly 30,000 fans. She has acquired sponsors that provide free baking supplies and support for her business; her cakes have been featured in Cake Master magazine. She’s increased the price of her cakes to better match the market rate, and her cakes are in high demand. She no longer needs to work extra jobs. The long of baking and running a business are all pieces of a fulfilling career she truly loves.

For Candy, her work does not stop with her own bakery business. She believes strongly in helping other bakers and provides support and free training through weekly YouTube and Instagram tutorials. After participating in Adelante, Candy even launched #QueenBeeBaker, a positive online mentoring movement to support and inspire other bakers. She spends several afternoons a week teaching baking and decorating techniques to an intern, Jackie.

At home, things are now easier, too. Candy’s hard work is an investment in her family’s future rather than a source of endless stress. Her young sons understand from Candy’s example how hard work and perseverance can turn dreams into a reality.  Her boys are proud of their role model mom and the success of her business. They have big plans for careers as engineers and astronauts, and they know education is a critical step for success.

And while Candy says she “is living the American dream,” she is not done. She hopes to one day have her own cooking show. Candy’s advice to others with big dreams? It’s the same for her fellow bakers and her sons:  “Work hard, stay focused and always #LearnCreateInspireAspire the #QueenBeeBaker way.”

Follow Candy as she follows her dream:

Twitter: @candyscakes7
Facebook: Candys Cakes & More
Pinterest: CandysCakes716
Instagram: candyscakesandmore

Now. Here. Go! Join The Adelante Movement