Students discuss pandemic baking businesses

Sheryl‌ ‌Lawrence‌ ‌, Life and Arts Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the July 12 flipbook.

Since Alejandra Gutierrez was little, she has wanted to own a bakery. During the pandemic, she started Pan Con Ganas to not only share part of her culture with customers, but to feel more connected to it.

“I’ve gotten closer to my Hispanic side a lot more during the pandemic, and getting to share that with other people makes me really happy,” exercise science and nutrition senior Gutierrez said.

Some students started baking businesses during the pandemic to help with their mental wellbeing. Now, as the University returns to pre-pandemic operations for the fall semester, they fear they won’t have the time to continue.

“It’s calming, it’s not a high-paced environment,” government sophomore Kassidy Munoz said. “That’s why, I’d rather do this than a job, but it’s hard to get my business out when it’s still small.”

Munoz, owner of Kassidy’s Berries, said she started making chocolate-covered strawberries during her senior year of high school. When the pandemic started, she started selling them to replace the income from her job at Walmart.

“I didn’t feel safe because I live with my dad, and he’s high risk, so I stopped working,” Munoz said. “I started to do strawberries because it was in my space and I didn’t have to worry.”

Gutierrez’s dad would tell her “echale ganas,” which means “do your best and give it your all.”

“Somehow it just seemed to make things better, so I ended up naming (my business) after that, so as I’m making this sweet bread with everything I got, and I’m gonna be there for my customers,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez is a first-generation college student who watched her parents work hard to build the life their family has in America and she wants to be able to do the same.

“With our household, my parents came here and they were working very hard and they got the life that we have now,” Gutierrez said. “Now it’s my turn. I’m in school and I want to have the things for myself and start my things just like they did.”

Gutierrez said she sometimes gets homesick, and baking makes her feel closer to her family since she utilizes family recipes.

“Each kind of bread I sell, it’s somebody’s favorite,” Gutierrez said. “Everyone used to bake whenever we’d have get-togethers or when everyone was having a hard time, so it’s very much connected to family.”

Nutrition senior Carolina Yguerabide said she started her business during the pandemic due to the added free time, and she has plans to work around her schedule for the fall to continue it.

Yguerabide said her business, Procrastibaking, is completely gluten-free because she has celiac disease. She said the majority of her customers do not require gluten-free food, which she feels is good for spreading awareness.

Yguerabide said she does want to continue growing her business as the fall semester starts.

“I had to dial it down for a little bit only because I got a lot of support, but also a lot of orders for different people,” Yguerabide said. “As of now, I’m planning to open the order form at the beginning of the week, and then have all pickups occur during the weekends on Sunday.”

Gutierrez said Austin is a unique area to start a business in, and she hopes to continue sharing her culture with the UT and Austin communities in the fall.

“I (hope) that it’s something that could keep growing,” Gutierrez said. “I want to reach out to people, especially on campus, but I’m also hoping older people are (find joy in) what I have to offer.”