We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Santana and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jessica, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
My work life balance has changed tremendously throughout the years. When I first started my cake decorating business I had all the energy in the world and could pull all-nighters with ease. I dove into running my business full-force and left very little time for my personal life. Back then I considered sleepless nights a necessity for balance instead of realizing that choosing my business over my self was slowly tipping the scales of work and life balance into “all work, no play”. As my business has grown and my career developed I’ve realized that my health and well-being are far more important than the toxic mentality of being “#teamnosleep” or praising burnout as a qualification for being a true, successful entrepreneur. I like to think back to a quote my best friend once told me, “Your business would be nothing without you, but you will still be you without your business.” That quote has helped me realize that balance does not mean 50/50 work and play but rather finding out what areas of your life you are not willing to sacrifice on and actively working to ensure that all other goals align with this. Though I don’t believe a true balance can ever be achieved I now prioritize my own mental and physical well-being over the hustle and grind of the business world.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a cake designer with a focus on fondant work and wedding cakes. I found my love for baking at a young age but never thought to pursue it formally until I was finishing high school and really had to think about where I wanted my future to go. I had been making birthday cakes for my sister and cousins for years when my best friend reached out to me about making her wedding cake. Having never made a wedding cake but wanting to make the best one I possibly could I began searching online for tutorials and tips. From there I was hooked and started offering cakes for family members and close friends. I began posting my work online and soon it wasn’t just friends who ordered but people online who admired my work that wanted cakes. The internet provided so much knowledge and I soaked up as much as I could and decided to pursue cake decorating professionally. Turning my passion into a business and getting licensed was a big step for me and as a home-based baker one of my proudest achievements. Being able to announce that I had all my proper licensing and insurances meant that I wasn’t just making cakes for fun anymore, I was actively turning my passion into a business. This was a huge thing for me because for many people ordering a cake from someone who bakes from home means this is just a hobby for them and what you’re getting isn’t going to compare to an established bakery. I wanted to break this stigma with my business. I learned that if you want to be taken seriously as a business owner then you have to present yourself professionally regardless of your circumstances. For me this meant establishing boundaries with customers and setting standards. The part of running my business that keeps me the busiest is requiring inquires to be formally submitted online, full payment ahead of time, and all communication be kept strictly through email and within business hours. This leads to endless hours of answering emails, creating invoices, and drawing up contracts and quotes. There are many people who feel pushed away by all the formalities but I persevere and repeat to myself that if they don’t want to respect the boundaries I have set up and view me as a business owner and not just the cake lady next door then they aren’t the customer for me. The second most time consuming task as a business owner is social media upkeep. Trying to keep up with posting online content, editing images, and creating captions can be overwhelming. There are many days where I simply just put the phone down and walk away but it doesn’t take long for me to be back to sharing cake pictures.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Although I’ve lived in Vegas most of my life, between my full-time corporate job and running my cake business I don’t have a lot of free time to explore the city. I’m a homebody and my best friend is as well so we would be more likely to just chill at home but given the opportunity here are a few places I would definitely recommend checking out! If you’re a thrill seeker like me you can’t miss out on The Strat’s Skyjump. It’s a controlled free-fall that is guaranteed to get your heart racing and also bring out a slur of profanities if you’re scared of heights. For those who aren’t as keen to heights but like adventure Mt. Charleston has beautiful scenery and gorgeous trails such as the Mary Janes fall trail. They also have a lodge where you can sit down and grab bite to eat. On the theme of hikes we also have Red Rock which homes some challenging hikes such as the Turtlehead Peak trail. I’ve only done this trail once and nearly passed out but loved the view from the top. Definitely not for the faint of heart! For dining options I recommend checking out Mon Ami Gabi inside the Paris Casino which sits directly across the beautiful Bellagio water fountains. My favorite ramen place to eat at is in the heart of Chinatown and it is called Shokku Ramen. It’s a cute little anime-themed shop with amazing build your own ramen bowls and bomb gyoza. There is also Sushi Neko which is just up the street and happens to be another favorite spot of mine. If you have a love for sweets like me, you should check out La Luna Tea and dessert bar which has a variety of yummy desserts and drinks.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
As an artist and entrepreneur I know there are two very specific things many of us love to praise: being completely self-taught in our trade and having amassed our success single handedly. To say I’ve gotten as far as I have in my business without the help of others would be a lie. Although none of my friends and family are getting theirs hands covered in sugar for me they’re happily standing by my side sharing my work, recommending me to others, handing out business cards, and giving me pep talks when I feel I’ve failed. Behind the scenes I’ve always had the support of my family and friends. On occasion my father even jumps in with his own custom jacket to help with cake deliveries! So I would like to give a shoutout to my best friend who pushed me to pursue cakes as more than a hobby, shoutout to the friend who pushed me to complete my licensing, and major shoutout to my parents who selflessly shared their kitchen with me for years. Without their support I wouldn’t have had the confidence to push through all the hiccups of starting a business. The internet also played a large role in getting me to where I am. Through trial-and-error we can all claim to be self-taught but I also like to be honest with myself and admit that if it wasn’t for the internet and online communities I would not know all the tips, tricks, and secrets that I do now. I’ve taught myself the hardest lessons through error but have been “community-taught” in advancing my skills. The amount of tutorials and blogs that have developed over the years is incredible and every day I learn something new just by scrolling through the internet. My love for baking came naturally but the knowledge of properly icing a cake came from Youtube tutorials and cake decorating blogs. Shoutout to the all-knowing Internet for its endless vast of information.

Website: www.santanabakes.com

Instagram: @santana_bakes

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SantanaBakes

Image Credits
Keem Ibarra

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