Business is a family affair for two Hispanic businesswomen the owners of Bronxville’s Chantilly Patisserie.
When they were in high school, Maria and Mariana Delgado Gambini did some community service as part of their high school curriculum.
Now the business owners try to also give back. After Hurricane Sandy hit New York, the Gambini’s business, Chantilly Patisserie, started collecting food. One week after the hurricane, they had amassed $30,000 worth of food.
“We rented two trucks and we drove the trucks down to Staten Island to deliver the food,”
Maria recalls. “It was great. It feels great to have the ability and the clientele that will allow you to do those kinds of things.”
With their parents’ life savings to back them, Hispanic businesswomen Maria and Mariana Delgado Gambini embarked on a business venture that married their love of all things Paris with their individual interests in art, architecture and culinary arts, respectively.
In January 2010, Chantilly Patisserie opened its doors, giving the women an opportunity to sell decadent desserts to a welcoming public in the Westchester County village of Bronxville. Their mother, Mirta, is also a partner in the business.
Originally from Tucuman, Argentina, the family immigrated to Westchester County in 1993. After college, where Maria majored in art and architecture, she moved back to Bronxville, taking a job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mariana attended culinary school after high school.
It was during a post-college trip to Paris that the duo fell in love with the City of Lights. “It was almost like we looked at each other and realized this is what we want to do,” Maria explains. “We had always been surrounded by food. Our background is also Italian. There are a lot of Italians in Argentina and there’s always food.” Chantilly features European style pastries with hints of Argentinian culture. “Whenever we get a chance we always try to include our culture.”
Two Hispanic businesswomen Share Tips for Business Success
But it takes more than a good idea to make a business succeed. Maria admits it’s a scary proposition, especially for someone with no business background. Despite that, she encourages other Latinas to take the plunge. “A lot of people are hesitant and scared to open a business – scared to fail and scared because they don’t have a business background. So when it comes time to do anything, you just do it,” she recommends.
Photo: Chantilly Pastisseries chef-owner Chef Marianna Delgado Gambini with the bakery’s Buche de Noel- photo courtesy Tania Savayan/The Journal News
Owning a business also requires some perseverance. She advises, “Don’t get discouraged.” Business owners have to continue learning and growing with their business, she adds.
Tips for Working with Family
Dividing up the workload can be challenging when you’re working with family, but Maria says working with family is really a good thing overall because you can always trust your family.
“It is difficult because it is your mother and your sister and in one way you think, “It’s my mother and my sister and I have to have that respect for them.” But in other ways, you’re like, “Wait a minute; they’re my business partners so we have to respect each other like that as well.”
“Sometimes lines can get crossed and it gets crazy but on the other hand, on tough days, it is your family and you’re there for each other. I wouldn’t want to be in business with anyone other than these two women because they are fantastic.”
Each member of the family has distinct responsibilities, which helps minimize conflicts. Maria recalls when Chantilly first opened, her job was to be the cake artist, which wasn’t something she really knew how to do. But she was given the materials and expected to figure out how to decorate cakes.
“So I had to do it. There was no, ‘I can’t.’ Can’t is just something we don’t say. It’s not part of our vocabulary.”
Mariana is the chef. Maria is now the baker and the cake artist. She also handles the marketing. Mirta manages the retail shop.
She was also the designer and decorator for the shop. The space was the location of a TV repair shop, so everything had to be redone before the bakery could open.
That’s when Luis got involved helping his daughters and wife with some of the construction-related tasks. “The only thing we kept from the shop that was here was the ceiling,” Maria explains.
All three partners have a say in decision making. That includes everything from the color of the paint on the walls to the recipes. “We all put in our two cents,” she adds.
Finding a good work-life balance is difficult as an entrepreneur, admits 33-year-old Maria, who wakes up at 4 a.m. to go to work. While she loves baking, it’s hard to have a social life. In the future, she hopes it will become more balanced, giving her time to take a trip or spend more time with friends.
Right now, the three Latinas are doing everything. In the future, Maria hopes their jobs will be more defined. That would help them find more balance. Doing so would also enable Maria to find the time to take a business class, which is something she really wants to do.
These two Hispanic businesswomen also hope to open a second shop and possibly offer classes.
Wholesale and catering are also in the future for Chantilly. “We take so much pride in what we do. We make everything from scratch, every single day. We want people to notice the products that we make. When people come in, it’s like they”re 40 and they come into my shop and they’re suddenly 7 years old,” she says.
“The adults go up and down looking and saying, ‘I want this one, but I want this one. But I want that one as well.’ It’s pretty comical. We don’t make it easy for people to decide what they want to take home.”