Elvia Buendia grew up in a small town on the outskirts of Mexico City. As the youngest of 6 children, she was raised in a protective, loving, moderate-income family. She had a passion for desserts which stemmed from spending time in the kitchen with her mother who would use farm-fresh ingredients to whip up delicious homemade pastries and cakes.
Elvia studied computer programming for three years and then got married. After a few years, she and her husband decided that they wanted their family to have more opportunities and moved to San Francisco.
Elvia thought that she would be able to stay at home with her children and work from home as a computer programmer. She found it hard to find stable work and decided that it would be better to focus on raising her children. One day, her son asked her what she loved to do most, she answered: “Baking.”
And that’s when everything changed.
The first cake Elvia made for her family afterwards didn’t turn out well because she mixed up using Celsius and Fahrenheit cooking temperatures in the recipe.
“ I remember dumping the cake out on the the plate and it fell with a thump. My son then exclaimed, ‘Look, Mommy made a tire!’” she recalls, with a laugh.
After that, Elvia signed up for cake decorating and baking classes as a hobby. Once she began taking her cakes to friends and parties, people wanted her to bake them cakes as well.
“That’s when I thought, oh I can start a business!” Elvia says.
But starting a business was not simple. Elvia had a lot of debt at the time but after coming to Mission Asset Fund for help, she was encouraged to apply for a microloan. She used the $5000 loan to invest in a fridge, business license and a number of necessities to grow her bakery, La Luna Cupcakes.
Baking homemade desserts may seem like a luxury to most people, but for Elvia, it’s an essential part of her day and something she believes anyone can do if they truly enjoy it.
She believes in using fresh, natural ingredients for her cupcakes and cake pops just the way her mother taught her.
Red velvet, mocha chocolate, honeymoon cranberry orange, are just a few of the delicious flavors Elvia offers. La Luna Cupcakes started as online orders only and worked out of the La Cocina incubator. Elvia would deliver the orders and cater special events herself.
In 2013, La Luna Cupcakes was able to move into a physical store in the Crocker Galleria in downtown San Francisco. Elvia also has hired 4 employees to work with her, including her husband who joined last December!
Elvia’s life is very different from what she dreamed of.
Running a business can be stressful financially with the challenges of sales and promotion, but she says she has a simple and easy life. She’s been married for 25 years and has two kids- a 22-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son. Even after all these years, her favorite thing to do is open the oven and smell the fresh cupcakes.
“It makes me think of all the time I spent with my mother in her kitchen,” Elvia says with a smile.
This December, Elvia will have paid off her loan and looks forward to expanding La Luna Cupcakes. Her goal is to open up stores in two more locations and she cites her children as her motivation to continue her business.
“I always taught them if you want something, you can do it! Believe in your dream!”
Nesima Aberra is the Marketing Associate and New Sector Fellow at Mission Asset Fund. She loves storytelling, social good and a good cup of tea. You can reach her at [email protected].