Lilia Rojas Latina entrepreneur and owner of La Flor de Jalisco bakery has achieved success
Lilia Rojas takes an almost literal approach to running her business: the positive meaning of having her cake and eating it to.
She attributes this success to having both a wide variety of well-crafted Mexican cakes, breads and pastries as well as above-and-beyond customer service.
As she notes, “I’ve been to so many places where the product is excellent but the customer the service isn’t.
Then you go to other places where the product isn’t great but the customer service is. I believe you need both to keep people coming back through the doors.”
Lilia Rojas, owner of the bakery La Flor de Jalisco
La Flor de Jalisco’s great products may stem from her family’s extensive background in baking, going back to the 1920s, when her Latino paternal grandparents opened a bakery in Mexico.
They then passed that knowledge to Rojas’ father, who in turn shared it with his wife and then his children. Now, not only does Rojas have her own bakery, but so too do a brother and sister.
Some of Rojas’ great customer service has also likely come down through generations, but much of it can be directly attributable to her can-do attitude. Realizing college might be out of her financial reach, she looked for other options to help her raise her two children.
The obvious answer was opening a bakery.
Not that it was easy. “It was very difficult because I was on a budget. I had to get loans for the business. I had to find a location. It’s not like a franchise where you can just open a business and the franchiser will do everything for you. I had to do everything on my own,” the American-born Rojas says. (Her parents and siblings were Mexican born.)
Latino family support
Of course, she had a little help from her family.
Her mother, for example, loaned her some seed money and shared many of the family’s recipes, as well as her wealth of business experience. And her brother helped her come up with the name of the business, the English translation of which is “the flower of Jalisco.”
“My brother gave me the idea for that name because we had to open the business fast—and I simply just decided right then, ‘Okay, I am taking that name so we could get up and running quickly,’” Rojas, who lives in New Rochelle, says. “As it turned out, it was the perfect name, because Jalisco is a state in northern Mexico and many of the Latinos who live in the area are from northern Mexico.”
Based on success and what’s next
Based on her success, she’s now ready to pass on some of her own knowledge to others contemplating their own small businesses.
For instance, she cautions them to start slow, to start small and to not get overwhelmed. Following this advice, she notes, will help them avoid amassing too much debt. She also adds that customer service is very important, as are approaching local government for advice, getting an accountant and paying taxes.
Although she grew up in and misses New York City, she finds Westchester County, where she both runs her business and lives, a “calming environment” and a great place to raise children, as she did her son and daughter.
The schools there, she remarks, “are wonderful.”
Rojas could have taken an entirely different path when it comes to her life, but her pluck, family background and support, and business smarts have made her a grand success. And she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love what I do, I love my customers and I love the community I do business in. I really can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing,” Rojas effuses.
And that’s the positive definition of having her cake and eating it too.