December Feature Story: Monica Atanasova
Monica Atanasova, Baker, Europe Cakes
When we first moved to Upstate NY it was a major transition for us. We knew we would be getting married here and so we had to start finding local vendors to help make our big day a success. Being in a small town, it’s difficult to find vendors. We found networking was our best bet and going out to visit local vendors.
Our original baker wasn’t going to be available to provide goodies for our wedding. So we started looking around for another baker and that is when we met Monica.
When you walk into her small town bakery, it’s like walking into Europe. She bakes the finest European baked goods around and we couldn’t think of anyone better to supply baked goods for our wedding.
We went for our tasting and fell in love. Her desserts were so sweet and moist. We couldn’t resist. That is when we booked her services.
Monica was born in Bulgaria, Burgas and has since lived in the United States for 18 years. She received her Masters in Psychology and Social Work but unfortunately could not transfer the degree for a full time job in theUnited States. This is when she found her love for baking.
Before opening her own business, she worked for another local bakery for 4 years, learning the trade and taking cake decorative classes on the side. She trained with Colette Peters, owner of Colette Cakes, a speciality cake company in New York City.
This month we’re featuring Monica with Europe Cakes and I couldn’t be more excited to share her beautiful story with you.
Enjoy her story below.
Tell us about yourself – Where are you from and what did you wish to be when you grew up?
I was born in Europe, Burgas Bulgaria. A beautiful town off the coast of the Black Sea. I grew up interested in psychology and social work. Unfortunately, when I moved to the United States, my degrees didn’t transfer. That is when I found my passion in pastry and cake decorating.
What brought you to where you are today?
My husband moved to the United States 20 years ago. 16 years later, we (me and my children) moved to Watertown, NY to live with him. I worked for a local bakery and later decided to open up my own small shop in Downtown Watertown.
What do you do professionally?
I am a baker and cake decorator. I’ve taken many baking classes at JCC and than a dozen cake decorating classes in the area.
What year did you start your business and how long did it take to acquire a consistent client base?
On December 5, 2013 I opened up my own business. I first started baking and decorating cakes in my home kitchen and later decided to expand and open up my own bakery in town.
What does a day in the bakery look like?
Each week consists of about 50-60 hours in the bakery. Every day is a set schedule we follow for baking. We receive a variety of orders. Some days can be busier than others. We also bake enough goods to sell in our storefront in addition to the orders we receive for delivery and pick up. Occasionally my husband will delivery cakes with me on the weekends.
What do you do to stay involved in the community?
I was raised in a large city. Moving to a small town, I realize the need to stay involved in the community. We try to help as much as we can. Each week, we donate goods to a variety of locations. I work with JRC helping kids with special needs. I also work with interns from JCC and BOCES to give them experience in the field.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
Each year brings new challenges and adventures. I’ve been in business for more than 7 years. Through each year I’ve experienced different changes. It’s hard to predict where I see the business in 5 years.
What advice would you give to people your age looking to start their own business?
Follow your dreams. It’s a difficult road, but a road worth taking.
If a child walked up to you and asked for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?
Never give up. Always keep trying.
What do you enjoy most about being a baker?
I’ve been a baker for 14 years now. The biggest joy is the smiles I see on customers faces when they pick up their cakes or when I receive thank you cards in the mail. It makes the long hours, late nights, and worries all worth it.