We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Castro-Martha and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michelle, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The most important factor for my bakery’s success would be being truthful about everything I do. This applies in every aspect of my business, from the cookie and cake designs I use, to how I manage my interactions with customers, colleagues and members in the entrepreneur community, When I have creative freedom (not custom orders) I always try to put something unique out there. I want my product to reflect me and my culture, my roots and where I come from. Staying true to my culture and my ideas has brought me success but also a great satisfaction because I know a lot of people out there can relate to my creations. Often times I find my self debating, “should I write this on the cookie? maybe people will think its too much? maybe they will judge me because of my designs?” but at the end, if I don’t stay true to my ideas what’s the point of creating? My product represents me and my customers appreciate my transparency. When you are a sincere, people expectations will always be met. I put special attention to what my customer wants and match that to what I can truly create for them. I am very open and conscious about my capabilities and limitations when it comes to availability. I have learned that often times bakers find themselves getting a cake that looks nothing like what they wanted or they overbook themselves and end up cancelling orders. Both of these situations will damage your customer’s perception about you and your business and potentially make you loose customers. Creating strong bonds with other entrepreneurs and colleagues is key to success. We don’t exist alone. We are part of a community, we have ideas to share, we can help others grow. When my community grows I grow. If I have an opportunity to help and collaborate with other small businesses I will do it. Collaborations bring more customers but most importantly will bring long lasting supporters. Staying true to what you can offer to others and being honest with your colleagues will build and important part of your business reputation. Community is key!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I went to collage and have a bachelors degree in communication. When i got married and pregnant I quit my corporate job and started my home based bakery along with my husband: M squared baked goods (M squared after Michelle and Mario). Its been 7 years aprox and it hasn’t been easy. Lots of challenges along the way specially because I’m running a family and a business at the same time. I am a mother of two little girls that need my attention and I have a business that keeps growing. I’ve learned to set my priorities straight, to have a plan and be organized, and to ask for help when I can’t deal with things by myself. Our sweets are made from scratch, we love for our customers to enjoy that home baked flavor. We use great quality ingredients and we put special attention to our customer service! We love people! We appreciate our community’s support and encourage people to support small business. When you do this you are helping a family, your building a dream, you know exactly where your money goes… Investing in our community will make all of us stronger.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take her to eat at Citrinas, a small restaurant that offers healthy food. I would then visit Barrio Logan to show them Chicano Park, shop at Casa Xovi, drink a coffee at Chikita Cafe and then take them for a beer to Hoppy Daze down south on Picador Blvd where you can also eat tacos at Sayulitas, they have the best salsas ever! Next day we would go to my neighborhood, San Ysidro and eat tacos at Tuetano taqueria. Downtown Chula Vista has amazing places to eat like Grind house, Bella’s… i would also have a michelada and listen to mariachi on Sundays at Chula Vista Brewing. Maybe next day i would go eat sushi at Mitos a little place on Hollister Ave… so many choices!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First, I would like to give a shout out to my husband Mario Martha for his patience and support and all my customers for their support and their trust. I want to say thanks to other entrepreneurs that have helped me along the way: Chikita Cafe, Casa Xovi, Hoppy Daze tap house, La Bodega Gallery, Casa Familiar, La Pulga Flea Market. Their support has meant so much for my business success. And a special thanks to San Diego Voyager for supporting small business, we appreciate you!
Facebook: M squared Baked goods