Sheer Gumption and Making it Work

Amanda Medina, baking up a business…

It takes unique talent and passion to create something people like to look at that also satisfies a yearning for a delicious treat to cap off special occasions. Amanda Medina of SugarBomb Bake Shoppe nails it every time. Her Facebook reviews are numerous and enthusiastic.

  • She always does an amazing job! My graduation cake was perfect and tasted so good! AE
  • Absolutely love SugarBomb. Everything that I have ever ordered has exceeded my expectations. Wouldn’t order from anywhere else. LT
  • SugarBomb is the BOMB! I’ve never been disappointed! Always been satisfied! FP


Baker Amanda Medina
Amanda Medina

This culinary entrepreneur defines what it means to create a business from nothing and make it into a stellar success.

ORP: Briefly talk about why you started SugarBomb Bake Shoppe.
SugarBomb was started out of combination of curiosity, passion for the craft and the desire to create something my way, from the ground up. Throughout my childhood, my mom owned her own flower shop, The Awesome Blossom, and it really resonated with me. I saw the struggles of owning your own small business, but it was the successes that really made the impression. I wanted to be my own boss and create something that was a representation of me. Baking has always been a hobby of mine, so it seemed a natural fit. It was a craft that I could hone and really make my own.

ORP: How did you become interested in baking?
It started in high school. I’d taken a few culinary arts classes and fell in love with it. It was also at that time that cupcakeries were trendy and cake-related TV shows were becoming popular. I would make cakes from mixes and try to decorate them with fondant to replicate what I’d see on those shows.

A cake for the bookish

ORP: You started out as a home-based operation. What are the challenges to doing that?
I think having a home based business has a bit of a negative connotation. People are a little more wary because they can’t just come in and browse. I feel like I’ve really had to prove myself and my product. I’ve definitely earned every one of my customers!

ORP: What is the biggest challenge you faced in the beginning and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge in the beginning was getting the word out there in ways that would be beneficial to the business, but also fiscally responsible for me. I came into this very naive. That may have been a blessing in disguise because the things I did then were done out of sheer gumption and hunger to make it work. From day one I had the desire to succeed at this. Everyday, every cake I make, I still strive to be better, learn more about my craft and to improve. I think having that mindset has helped me to overcome a lot of the struggles involved in having a home-based business.

ORP: What gives you the greatest joy as a professional baker?
The reactions, for sure! Nothing compares to seeing a bride and groom see their cake for the first time or a three-year-old excitedly shrieking about their cake. And as much as I love the initial visual reactions, I love the texts or calls that often come later telling me how it tasted “…even better than it looked,” even more! Those make all the sleepless nights and hours of work more than worth it!

The Wild One
The Wild One

ORP: What is the most important trait for someone who wants to be a culinary entrepreneur?
A bit of stubbornness. There are going to be so many hurdles to overcome that you have to be a little stubborn. You have to be willing to stick to your guns, believe wholeheartedly in your product and be willing to sacrifice to make it work. Also, I think there’s a balance of being confident in your product and having the humility to always want to learn more.

ORP: You are now the kitchen manager at La Cocina Commercial Kitchen at Luna Community College. Talk about that and what it means to you to have access to a commercial kitchen for your business.
A commercial kitchen is a game changer! Right now, I am only allowed to sell direct to consumers. Producing in the commercial kitchen would enable me to wholesale (my products) and potentially get my items in restaurants or even grocery stores. It completely broadens the market and allows for faster and more efficient production. La Cocina Commercial Kitchen is a great resource for up and coming, and established business owners in our community. I definitely have plans to utilize it to grow SugarBomb.

ORP: You are also teaching a baking basics class at Luna Community College this fall. What prompted you to do that and what are you most looking forward to as an instructor?
Initially, I wanted to teach the class as a challenge for myself. I haven’t always been super comfortable with public speaking so I thought it would help me break that. Talking about baking and the tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way comes natural so it’s been nice to be able to share that with a group of people who are equally interested in baking. There’s such a range of students in the class, all the way from beginners to people who already work as professional bakers. I tell my class all the time that we are all learning new things from each other. It’s the only the third week but it’s been such an enriching experience already.

ORP: Any advice for beginning culinary entrepreneurs?
Go for it! Even if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, if you have a passion, go for it. Put your heart and soul into it and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are some amazing people in the food industry here in Las Vegas that are willing to share their expertise. SugarBomb is a custom cake Shoppe. I strive to make everything from flavor to decor completely custom and one of a kind.

SugarBomb ontact information:
Phone: 505.429.4581

Cake photos (Books and Wild One) courtesy of Amanda Medina, SugarBomb Bake Shoppe


Give Yourself a Gold Star

7 Affirmations to Improve Your Business

If I was 12 inches taller I’d be skinny

How many times have you looked in the mirror and found a flaw? If you say never, good grief, what planet do you live on? Most of us are self-critical, sometimes to the point of being oblivious to what makes us unique. We seem to have a beast inside bent on bellyaching about our multiple deficiencies. Do you obsess about being too tall or not tall enough? Too thin or too heavy? Not pretty/handsome enough? Too pushy? Not pushy enough?

I'm a winner!You have your list and so do I. Do you apply that self-critical flaw-finding attitude to your business?

  • I can’t succeed.
  • The economy is against me!
  • I can’t afford to carry enough inventory.
  • Everybody shops out of town!
  • I’m afraid of the competition.
  • Advertising costs too much and it’s a waste of my limited resources.
  • Marketing eludes me. I can’t figure it out.

When you add your own night terrors to this list do you start to sweat? Are you on the brink of throwing in the towel, going to bed and covering up your head? STOP! Before you lie down with a cold compress – or knock back a numbing libation – get a grip! Perhaps you’re thinking is getting in the way of your business success.

But I’m only 60 inches tall, that’s not going to change

Challenges are real. There is something to be said for critical evaluation. SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis exists for a reason. The list above clearly represents the outcome of looking at weaknesses.

So how do you bring your future, the future of your business and the future of your community’s economy into perspective? Let the bellyaching beast of negativity off its leash and listen up. Evaluation does not mean you must find every flaw. Yes, you need to know what your weaknesses are, but also be certain you know and embrace your strengths. I may only be five foot tall and nowhere near thin, but anyone who knows me will tell you it has rarely held me back, even when standing still might have been wiser.

You are a star, and don’t you forget it

After hearing the bellyaching beast whining and begging for the scraps of uncertainty and fear left behind in the wake of your mental self-abuse, give him his freedom, open the door and let him go. When you see his tail wagging as he crests the horizon, take pen in hand and write down why your skills, services or business benefits others. It is freeing. It reminds you of your successes and puts the bad times in perspective.

As an entrepreneur you should take stock from time to time. Go somewhere quiet, where you will be able to think uninterrupted. Take a notebook and pen. There is something to be said for the tactile feel of the implements in your hand as you see your entrepreneurial spirit come to life through the words flowing onto the page.

Affirm your commitment to success:

I started this business/service (aside from money) because____________.

There is never any one reason entrepreneurs go into business. While earning a profit is likely at the top of the list there are other compelling reasons that fired and inspired you to put out your shingle. Name those reasons. Embrace them.

My business/service is unique in these ways_____________.

If you don’t have a response to this perhaps it’s time to think carefully about what you offer that no one else does, or think of an add-in that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Investing in my business through promotion has value because_________.

There is a rule of thumb that you should commit a percentage of your annual income to advertising and promotion. I would add, use that money wisely and well. No matter how much you want to support every publication and cause that “represents youth,” consider what you do in context of your business success. There are other ways to donate that don’t involve spending your much-needed promotional dollars.

My business has loyal customers. I’m going to reward them by______________.

When was the last time you e-mailed, called or in some way communicated with your customers? It’s less expensive to retain a satisfied customer and get them to buy again than it is to draw new customers to your door. And remember this – activity begets activity. If you have your old customers coming in the door, new customers will follow.

I will make sure my employees like their jobs and convey that to our customers.

If your employees aren’t on your side and don’t enjoy their jobs it will show in your bottom line. Take care of your employees (even if the only employee you have is you). If employees are not confident in their ability to take care of customers, if they feel inadequate, if they feel you don’t care about them, they will not do their best. They will do the minimum and not very well.

I will participate actively in associations that advocate for independent entrepreneurs.

Belonging to a business association is an opportunity for networking, yes, absolutely. Aside from that, you have something to offer. What can you contribute that will improve/promote all businesses? Rising water lifts all boats. Be part of the rising tide.

I will post a list of my business successes where I can see it every day, beginning with the day I opened, my first success.

Remember your successes. That first big sale. Meeting your first payroll (including paying yourself!). The “thank you” from a customer who benefited from your service. Keep track of the positive influence and impact your business has had and continues to have.

Moving forward

When business is stagnant or beginning to slide, remember this is a bump in the road, not a wall. Small business continues to be the backbone of the economy. Your success determines the health of the local economy and the national economy. Take time to celebrate your entrepreneurial strengths. It will be good for you, and it will be good for your business.


Sharon Vander Meer is an entrepreneur, author, blogger and freelance writer. To tap into her skills to your benefit e-mail Type Write Stuff in the subject line.

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