Sisters Miredys and Karla Peguero migrated from Puerto Rico to California and cultivated their family’s recipes and love for baking into a newly-launched cake studio in Los Angeles. A year ago they opened Cake Bash Studio in Van Nuys, a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles, and the response from sweet-toothed customers has been overwhelmingly positive.
The studio includes a multitude of sweet treats including traditional desserts and Puerto Rican delicacies, as well as custom cakes which have been praised by customers for being beautiful and delicious.
While they have the knowledge and drive, the heart of their business and their cooking goes back to their family and homeland with a menu that includes Puerto Rican rum cake, mallorcas, tierritas, and panatela.
“We incorporated Puerto Rican desserts cause that’s us. Some of those treats are the reason why we are in this business to start with. Those are our childhood treats that we love and have some sweet memories with,” Miredys tells HipLatina.
Growing up, the two sisters witnessed their parents open La Panadería y Repostería del Pueblo, a neighborhood bakery in their hometown. As a result, food and family has always gone hand in hand for them.
Raised in a home devoted to desserts nurtured a love for cooking in Karla, that years later led her to pursue a major in food and beverage management in the Universidad del Este in Puerto Rico.
Karla moved from the island three years ago to the LA suburb of Woodland Hills following Miredys’ move to the US. She earned a diploma in pastry and baking at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, California, and with Miredys’ savvy business skills the two decided to go into the baking business together.
They currently have two employees with plans to add a new member this year, in efforts to grow their team in the 1,000 sq. ft. shop. They bake cupcakes, small cakes, cookies and quesitos daily and cold treats every other day including, flancocho, tres leches, and cheesecake bars.
The tres leches is a recipe that has been in the family for years and they felt it was a necessary part of their menu.
“First of all, because it’s delicious, I remember trying it when I was younger and falling in love,” Karla says. But they added their own twist with flavors including almond, pistachio, nutella and coquito.
A mix of old and new, the menu also includes Karla’s guava bars for a tropical flavor reminiscent of home, while rooted in a familiar dessert by incorporating it into a cheesecake.
Both the tres leches and guava bars have been the most popular items according to Karla, “proof that it is so important to stay true to yourself.”
“We love to introduce them to new people here in California. People that have tried our Puerto Rican desserts for the first time have loved them! Of course, for all our boricuas in LA, we bring a little piece of home to them and that’s priceless,” Miredys says.
According to Pew Research, an estimated 5.1 million Puerto Ricans have lived in the US since 2013, which is more than the population of the island itself with 3.6 million in 2013.
Both sisters recall the stress of navigating new territory as business owners wanting to build a solid foundation for the shop, an endeavor that’s never been an easy feat for immigrants without connections or funding.
Latina-majority owned businesses totaled nearly 1.5 million, according to a Nielsen report released in 2017. This shows a growth of 87 percent in the past five years, far more than the 27 percent growth of female majority-owned firms.
They each have their respective roles with Miredys handling the business end and Karla taking on the creation and execution of all their products. But they both emphasize that they’re also willing to take on whatever needs to get done regardless of job roles.
“We have much respect for each others knowledge and experience, so that sets a great tone for our business,” Miredys said. “Our common goal is to have a successful brand and we know it’ll take hard work from both of us to get it done.”
Karla conducts decorating classes through Cake Bash, available for kids, teens, and adults and also hosts a Youtube channel featuring instructional videos ranging from how to make Chewbacca cake pops to unicorn cakes. Since its launch three years ago, it’s grown to 100k subscribers and garnered more than 20 million views.
The videos are all in Spanish where she showcases her humor, sass, and sometimes even wears costumes as colorful as her decorations.
“I get to share my knowledge with the world and show my personality,” Karla said,
Miredys actually grew up with a passion for music and acting before diving into the world of sweets. She was previously signed to Mathew Knowles’ label and opened for Beyonce’s “The Experience Tour” in Monterrey, Mexico. She also recorded songs with LL Cool J, Foxy Brown, Lionel Richie and sang background for Toni Braxton but now she’s dedicated to managing Cake Bash and raising her son.
“I think the main thing that I love with both businesses is the beauty of an idea coming to life, that right there gets me every time, ”Miredys says. “Now while building a brand I get to do it every day. To top it off I get to work with my sister on building something that is ours.”
In a city that’s famously home to some of the best Mexican cuisine, Puerto Ricans aren’t as strong a presence as they are in the Northeast but these sisters are making their presence and their cultura known.
“We never leave ourselves out of the equation. We bring ourselves into everything we do and we think that’s gonna be the key to our success,” the sisters say.