I was on my 4th cup of coffee this morning for Natalia's interview. But I scarfed down the steak, eggs, papas, toast and another cup of coffee. I mean I know that another cup of coffee wasn’t necessary, but I drank it like a G.
We took our seats and talked for the first 15 minutes about her little girl Camila. Miss Camila Medina who is two years old and part of Natalia’s inspiration for “Camila’s Cookie Jar” The other part is self-discovery. But we will get into that in a bit.
Natalia is as eager as me for this interview. I will deliver a great article about her and her success so that everyone can see the hustle and how real it is.
Natalia is the middle child out of five children. I have been told that the middle child goes unnoticed. That isn’t true for Natalia.
She was born in Los Angeles to her parents who are from Mexico. At the age of two, the relocated to Mexico where she lived for a few years. When they came back to California, they moved into Kern County. Lamont and Arvin became her stomping grounds.
You need to know that Lamont and Arvin are very small towns. Migrant workers are the majority of the population. I’m telling you this because I know you will be mind blown by what I’m about to tell you next.
Natalia’s parents worked in the fields picking grapes as so many immigrant families do. They worked hard to provide for their familia. Because these communities were primarily migrant workers the school Natalia attended accommodated the families and students. The school offered Saturday school, evening classes not only that years ago schools had something called “Track” Track was created for migrant families so the children wouldn’t miss class they worked the school year around different farming seasons. I had forgotten about this until Natalia brought it up.
She lived in low-income housing until she was 7 years old when her parents purchased their home.
Now because these communities were low income some amazing programs came in.
Gear-up was one of them. This program tracked students from middle school to High School graduation. Natalia was one of those students. Gear-up took these students on trips, exposed them to colleges and other surroundings. In 7th grade, Natalia was taken to Washington DC for nine days. The trip was exciting for her and her parents as they supported her fully in all these educational endeavors. Natalia recalls shopping for the trip something she never forgets was her blue converse, overalls, and hat. Those Blue converse stayed marked in her memories ever since.
On her trip to DC, she went to Museums, monuments, landmarks, and many other places. She was completely homesick but at the same time completely intrigued by the different cultures, lifestyles, and surroundings. A seed had been planted.
In Highschool, her curiosity kept growing. She joined sports, clubs and was in AP classes.
She also met her best friend and Natalia says this was a very important thing in her life. Her best friend had family members that were in college and this sparked even more interest in Natalia's mind. Her Junior year in high school she applied for a program “Migrant Student Leadership”
This program was to give students a chance to live college life for one month. She was accepted and went to UCLA. On this month-long stay, she attended classes, experienced a new city and was shown so much that was different from what she knew. She also earned six college credits.
“It was an experience. I felt I had finally found myself.” Natalia says as she shuts her eyes remembering the emotion like if it was taking place at that very moment.
She knew she wanted college life without a doubt. Her senior year she applied to UC Riverside and was accepted. When she broke the news to her parents they were broken-hearted. They didn’t understand why she wanted to leave them. Natalia had to make them understand that it was nothing that had to do with them it was everything that had to do with her. She needed to leave, she needed to experience and was more than ready. IT was hard for them to understand but they knew she was going to leave.
She went to UC Riverside to be a genetic scientist.
As we all know sometimes the path we want to take isn’t the one we are meant to take. The school became very expensive. At one point Natalia would only eat once a day. She couldn’t even drive her car to school because she didn’t have enough money to pay for a parking pass.
Natalia then transferred to CSUB (California State University Bakersfield) The costs were covered. She was a college tutor for Cal-SOAP and then began working as a tutor for Mini Corps. Mini Corps worked with migrant students in her community. She worked in rural areas of Kern County to expose other kids to college and would assist them in other areas as well.
She switched majors to Liberal Studies and Spanish. She holds two degrees, a multiple subject credential and a masters in Education.
Talk about being a badass!
She taught for five years, it was her calling.
Two years ago Camila was born and Natalia and her husband decided she would be a stay at home mom. Natalia wanted to be a hands-on mama. She wanted to make sure Camila knew how much both her parents loved her.
Now, Natalia is used to hustling for sure. She has always strived for more. As much as she loved Camila and knew she was right where she was supposed to be something was missing.
For her baby shower, she made her first-ever batch of cookies. Her friends and family loved them. Shortly after her husband asked her to make cookies for his coworkers.
“I hated them! I hated how they looked! I thought people are gonna look at these cookies and be disgusted. I couldn’t even stand the sight of them.” Natalia says laughing and still disgusted to this very day with them. But of course, we are our own worst critics because she showed me a picture of them and they were totally cute and looked delicious!
She received amazing feedback and began looking at blogs to learn techniques.
“This is my hidden talent! It’s a blessing and an adventure,” She says with a huge smile swept across her face.
Her first presale was in February just a few short months after Camila’s birth. She sold twenty-two dozen that first round.
She’s been baking for a year now and Natalia says she knew she was on the right track when Blue Demon El Luchador himself reached out to her after he saw the cookies of him she had created. She was in disbelief. He wanted his own dozen.
As we sat across from each other gossiping over many other things in between conversation I asked her, “On average how many cookies do you sale per month?”
No this is ho you know she is serious about he baking because she picked her phone up from the table pulled up her excel spreadsheet where all her orders are nice and organized (That’s the teacher in her no doubt!) and adding numbers in her mind looks up to me, “40 dozen.”
Very matter of fact I may add. 40 dozen!! That is 480 cookies! I was mind blown. This means only one thing absolutely for certain, people love the cookies!
“It's been a crazy journey. Being recognized and being asked, “Your Camilas cookie Jar?” or being asked to be a vendor. It's amazing! This is my hobby right now, I enjoy doing it. It helps me not forget about myself. It has been such a good breather from my career. I may collaborate with a shop in the future, I really don’t know. Sera lo que Dios quiera. This hobby has allowed me to be the mom I want to be.”
Natalia also goes onto say how her customers are very understanding, they accept her prices, timing, and forms. She is professional in every way and it is recognized.
Her papa is also a huge promoter of hers. He brags about her left and right, passes out business cards and also deserves a cut of the profits I mean he is advertising!
“Ok, Natalia. What advice do you give other people trying to start a business oh jente que esta buscando algo differente?”
She takes a deep breath because she is absolutely sure of the answer she is about to give, “If you don’t know your passion try everything! I had no idea what my talent was and I was turning 29. Try everything until you find your talent. If you feel stuck find something to get unstuck. I found my spark with this.”
Muchas gracias Natalia for sharing your passion with me. I hope my readers see that our background makes us. No matter what it is. If for whatever reason you don’t want the same then reach for the stars, take a leap of faith, but always stay grounded.
If you want to get your cookie on, make sure to follow her on IG under Camila's Cookie Jar. Shopping local and helping out small business is invaluable. Let's support each other.