Client Story: Corrina Pena

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As the owner of Frosted Bakery, and a mother of two, Corrina Pena has found a way to work and earn, while still staying home with her girls.

Corrina Pena was constantly making cakes and cupcakes for family and friends. As response to her goodies over the years kept being overwhelmingly positive, she decided to turn her baking hobby into a real business called Frosted. Her first step was to visit West Business Development Center, who advised her on the fundamental steps of getting her business license, how to get her food handler’s certification, got her thinking about her brand and how to get out there marketing her creations.

Her West BDC business advisor suggested she approach Harvest Market and when she was hesitant, he continued to encourage her. She got up the courage and presented her goods, to which Harvest responded enthusiastically.  You can now find her shortbread and biscotti on their shelves. Pena notes, “That was huge! West helped me get way out of my comfort zone in a really positive way.”

Corrina says the business community has been very supportive in general. Her friend Shayne Christensen of Sweet Creations has served as a mentor, and sometimes refers customers to her. Pena talks about the wonderful sense of community among Mendocino businesses, “I think everybody realizes there’s plenty to go around, so nobody’s feeling like mine, mine, mine . . . and customers want different things. Each one of us has something a little different to offer."

Corrina’s top priority is customer service and her specialty is children’s cakes, which her girls sometimes co-design with her. She says that when children get involved, the cakes become much more exciting and fantastical. For example, a simple owl cake turns into an owl on a branch with colorful feathers and glitter. She also finds children ask for combinations of flavors she wouldn’t have thought of, which is a fun challenge and a gateway to new and delicious tastes.

Corrina’s focus on customer service is part of the DNA of her business. She always sends a follow up note to her customers, requesting their feedback and finds this valuable to making improvements and expanding her offerings. “They can love the look of it, but what does it taste like?”

Corrina’s long-term goal is a brick and mortar shop. She envisions a fun and friendly place with shabby chic decor and delicious treats, where people can hang out and enjoy the space. She’s starting to work on a business plan with her West advisor to plan it.

Pena says, “I don’t know that I’d have the direction I do, without West. Business is scary and having knowledgeable people on your side is amazing and comforting. You feel like it’s going to be a success and West really enjoys your success with you.”

Frosted’s business has been growing, but Corrina is in no hurry to see her products fly off the shelves. As a mother of small children, she wants her growth to be steady, not fast. For her, the greatest advantage of working for herself is the ability to say no and the ability to mold her work hours around her family. She’s the boss, and she’s setting an example, showing her daughters that she can be a mom, a business owner and happy too.

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Here how these women-owned businesses started, and grew their businesses with free advising from West:

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