We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalia Bagai and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natalia, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I believe that the most important factor behind my success has been consistency. I created the business model to my company long ago, an exclusive cake studio rather a bakery, and it’s amazing how 10 years later not only is that the new normal, but it has allowed me to keep business the same even during a world pandemic. I truly believe that exclusivity is an idea that people crave to be a part of. In turn it has allowed to me to take on the amount of orders I can personally handle a week with the time to give my artistic all into each one. It’s one thing for a bakery to be pushing out 100 cakes a weekend but I’ve always wanted my clients to feel like they are getting a 1 of kind original art piece that only Lulus can offer and most importantly at a fair price. This also brings me to my next factor and that is the customer service that provide to my clients. I will go above and beyond to make sure that each client feels appreciated & catered to.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve always loved to draw and paint for as long as I can remember, and since I can also remember I’ve always baked with my mom. When it came to decide a career path I chose the trade route and combined both loves into one. I didn’t want to feel like I was working for the rest of my life and I knew that this professional would accomplish that. Along with that I knew that I wanted to be a business owner from a young age. I love work – and I work hard. I don’t make excuses and I never give up, I believe that it was role I was born for. However it has not been an easy road, but I’ve always said “f it were easy then everyone would do it” I got to where I am today professionally by passion & sacrifice. I chose an industry where we celebrate clients milestones & more often than not while working for other bakeries I missed a lot of my own family events & holidays. The end goal of having my company was always what I’ve worked for and the fact that I am now 28, and a successful entrepreneur is sometimes unimaginable to me. The first few years of building my company was the hardest, stressful, and most rewarding years of my life. Each day was a struggle & each day I learned something new about running a company. I started off by teaching myself how to build a website, I created a menu, & I would make cold calls to different corporations to drop off samples. In the first few years I invested a lot of my own time and money to make as many desserts as I could for different companies, co-workers, people I saw on a weekly basis like bank attendants. I also served and bar tended simultaneously 5 days a week to support myself financially so needless to say, there were days I went without sleep. Before I knew it orders were coming through and slowly by slowly I started to pull off 1 day of serving at a time. A large challenge was it seemed like every 6 months I grew more and more, and continue to do so, having to adapt & change my weekly production to be able to finish all the orders that were coming through. I’ve worn all caps all 4 years of my company – admin, production, social media, marketing, website production, delivery driver, you name it. I’ve worked the most I’ve ever in my life but it so much more satisfying that I am doing it for my own name. However, I still feel there are some moments of weakness and feeling completely overwhelmed, sometimes even defeated. In these moments I typically go on a long run and it helps me refocus that this is what I’ve worked towards my entire adult life, and how blessed and lucky I am to have such an amazing loyal clientele. I learned that if you really want it, there are limits you can push yourself I didn’t even know were imaginable. Mind over matter is the realist and the pep talks I’ve given myself over the years have been endless. You are your biggest fan & worst enemy, and before anyone else you need to believe in yourself first. I would want the world to know that dreams can come true. I don’t come from wealth and have been working from the age of f. Over the last 4 years, I’ve worked non stop, investing any dime I had into my company & today I am an independent 16. While working in bakeries I worked 40+ hours a week barely being able to support myself and now to day I am a successful entrepreneur, Hard work, dedication, & consistency pays off. Learn with every chance you get & always push yourself to moved forward, better yourself, and strive for nothing less than happiness.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I absolutely love San Diego! I am so proud to call this my home, and I love every inch of it! I guess my itinerary would forsure have to start at the beach, any beach along Carlsbad – Solana Beach is so beautiful. Fish 101 in Encinitas would the spot for the best happy hour oysters and Le Papagayo is my absolute favorite place to sit and have an amazing brunch in their outside patio with endless mimosas. La Jolla is just a beautiful little city to walk around the downtown & do a little shopping. Lastly they would have to visit downtown! The drive in itself is such an experience & Little Italy would be the first stop. After some amazing pasta, margaritas at Kings & Queens to end the night. Clearly I love food, so it would be a coastal drive of hitting all the best food places.
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?
I would 100% not be where I am today without the amazing mentors in my life. When I think back on my journey I feel like so many people have taught me 1 skill that I use today, mentally or physically. A chef from culinary had once told me, “when you are in the kitchen you have to learn how to respond than react. When you react you are bringing your emotions into the kitchen and when you respond you are critically thinking of how to solve the problem” Little did I know that this advice would follow me into my entire career as a kitchen manager and lead cake artist constantly resolving situation that when array when you’re already in crunch time. My family is obviously my number 1 supporter and when I have had my pit falls, or just overwhelmed with stress within the company they are always the ones to remind me why I do this and how much time and effort I have dedicated to get where I’m at. As a business owner I believe that the hardest thing is making mistakes and being okay that you’re not perfect. It’s a constant trial and error, but as long as you learn from each situation that is what allows you to move forward. A second chef that I admired so much was my first pastry chef, Chef James from SOHO House. He taught me everything I know about pastry, which is a huge portion of my company, and I can’t thank him enough for not only teaching me the process of things but the “why”. That knowledge is something someday I will pass along to my future employees I owe a huge thank you to Pete & Kelley Cohen. While starting my company I also had a bar-tending job in Solana Beach where I met this amazing family. Not only did they support my company in orders for their company but they become a silent investor and helped me obtain the equipment I needed to grow weekly orders. Their generous loans were solely out of love & wanting to see me be successful and I just can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for Little Lulus . Lastly my amazing life team-mate. He always keeps me grounded and motivated to keep going. He knows my work is so important to me and always willing to lend a helping hand without question. He is Little Lulus first employee & #1 supporter! I l am so lucky to have him in my life!!