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  • 30 April 2014
  • Tracy Spahr

Small business success: Baking basics with the College Entrepreneur of 2013

At just 27 years old, Nelly Garcia has not only started her own successful business, but also has won the College Entrepreneur of 2013 award from Entrepreneur Magazine.

Nelly and her family always enjoyed baking. Over time, they started baking cakes and desserts for weddings which inspired Nelly to start taking classes to increase her baking skills. About two years ago she started posting pictures of her cakes and desserts on Facebook, and soon people started calling and asking her to make cakes for their weddings and parties. It wasn’t long after that Rocheli Patisserie was born. doesn’t feel like work because I do what I love every day.

Rocheli Patisserie is a baking catering company based in Austin, TX. The company services events with anything from a dessert bar to a custom wedding cake. We asked Nelly to offer some advice to people thinking of starting their own business, and how they can manage their priorities:

Expect the unexpected: Baking was a passion for Nelly, but she never expected it to become her full-time career. Now she says, “I have never been happier – it doesn’t feel like work because I do what I love every day. I get to be a part of my customers’ happy times and it makes all the hard work worth it.” Sometimes an idea will fall in your lap, and you should go for it!

Don’t be afraid to lean on others: Nelly’s former boss became her mentor and a person she felt confident in asking for advice. Even though he had never been in the baking industry, he was there to talk her through all her fears and anxieties. Even with her recent success, Nelly still talks to him at least twice a month for an hour or two. Nelly credits him with pushing her and keeping her goals realistic.

Look for options to expand: Nelly never knew she could ship cupcakes until she visited her local The UPS Store to ship supplies. Knowing she could ship cupcakes changed the way she viewed her company’s expansion capabilities. Constantly look for ways to be improving.

Prioritize: At times it can be difficult to rank your priorities. Nelly learned this lesson when her company grew faster than she ever expected it to. “We do a lot at the same time so we can’t only concentrate on baking because we also have a supply store and offer classes. It can be overwhelming to know where your priorities lie, but you have to take a step back and make sure you stay organized at all times,” said Nelly.

You have to prove yourself: Nelly’s number one challenge is being taken seriously. Competing against people with lengthier resumes and who have a lot more years of experience than she does can make finding investors and clients a daunting challenge. Nelly said that doing things to raise her profile (like applying for the College Entrepreneur of 2013) and accepting media opportunities has given her more credibility.

My number one piece of advice would be to just give it a try if it’s something you are passionate about. You have to start little and work up to achieve your larger goals. Start right away and don’t wait for it to be the “ideal” situation because “ideal” might never come.

Do you have what it takes to be the Entrepreneur of 2014? The search for Entrepreneur magazine’s Entrepreneur of 2014 has begun. Entrepreneurs can submit their entries for this year’s contest at and Entries are being accepted until June 17.

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