Business Name: La Llorona Bakes
Owner: Adriana De Casas
Years in Business: 2
Job before having her own business: Insurance
How she used LegalZoom: LLC Formation
Known for: Homemade conchas with a modern twist
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I sat down with Adriana De Casas, owner of the Los Angeles bakery, La Llorona Bakes, to talk pan dulce and the influence of her Mexican background on her business. From her choice of a business name complete with Dia de Los Muertos-inspired logo to the traditional sweet bread called conchas she bakes, Adriana's business is heritage rich. But though she's found inspiration in those who came before, this young businesswoman is baking up a bright future all her own.
How did you get started with baking?
I started baking when I was in middle school. I started off by doing all of my family's cakes. And then I ended up doing my cousin's Quinceanera cake and uncle's wedding cake. Then their friends started hiring me. For college, I thought about going to culinary school, but my aunt told me, "you are going to spend too much money. You already have a thing you do. Just go to business school and learn more about having a business." So that's what I did. I went to college. And when I got back, like, the first month, I had an old client reach out and [ask], "can you make me a cake?"
In Spanish, La Llorona means the weeping woman. She is the central character in a Latin American folktale about a ghost who walks the beach weeping for her drowned children. It's a cool image but not an obvious name for a baking business. How did you come up with it?
I struggled a lot trying to think of a name. In high school, I did Treats by Adriana, but I didn't want my name on it. [I thought] If this becomes something big, I wanted it to stick. My sister said, "Why don't you do Llorona Bakes?" I told her it sounded scary. Then a couple of weeks later, my mom and my other sister said the same thing. And I go, did she tell you? They were like, "No. It sounds really nice. You like, Day of the Dead. You can do a logo like that." So I chose it. My stepfather made my logo. And then my mom goes, "and it fits you because you used to cry a lot when you were little."
You started with cakes and cookies, and now you also do decorated conchas, which is a very cool twist on a more traditional treat. What made you start baking them? And what gave you the idea to decorate them?
I think I was at my cousin's house, and she had a recipe for conchas. And I was like, oh, I should try that when I get home. But I didn't like how they came out. Then I started doing research, and I got super focused on it. My mom was my taste tester. That was when I found out that her grandpa was actually a baker in Mexico, and he did pan dulce. He passed away when we were really young. I never met him. The recipe that I came up with was just me trying things. And [my mom] told me mine taste exactly like his. It's weird.
You've also started doing some interesting things with flavors and decorations.
Yeah, I started experimenting with flavors to bring in my American heritage too. So, I did Oreo conchas. I have Funfetti one. That one surprised us because my sister said, "Who's gonna want to eat that?" Like, no one. Now that one is everyone's favorite. But I always liked decorating part of baking more than the baking. So I tried to find a way to incorporate that into the conchas. Then little by little, I found it and it's stuck and it's been amazing.
What's happened for your business in the first two years? And where do you see yourself going in the next five?
The first two years have gone amazing. I've built up a clientele that has been really supporting me a lot. I was able to buy a huge mixer to have here in my home bakery. Before [the pandemic], I did Sunday sales where people could come every 15 minutes. They would pick a time and then they could take them hot out of the oven. That was really nice because it gave people the opportunity to get them that week instead of waiting the two weeks that I normally require to put in orders. Because that worked so well, now I want to have a food truck. It's going to be a concha food truck. We've been researching and waiting until I can save up enough money. That's where I want to be.
How can people order conchas from you? And do you ship?
I do mainly Instagram. And then it goes straight to Facebook every time I post. So people on Facebook can find me there. I created a Google form on Instagram. All my orders are custom, and I need to make sure I have time and give each order a specific price depending on what it is. I haven't been able to do a website because of that. But people can also communicate with me through email.
I don't ship yet, but they just changed the cottage law because I am under the California cottage law to work from home. And the governor just signed the bill where we're going to be able to ship in California. So I'm excited about that, too.
To order Adriana's custom conchas in Los Angeles, complete the form on the La Llorona Bakes Instagram page or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Custom orders must be a minimum of 1 dozen. Because each concha is made lovingly by hand, expect a two to three-week lead time. Orders can be picked up at Adriana's home bakery in Compton. You can also reserve a special Halloween or Day of the Dead concha pack now on Instagram or Facebook.