We had the good fortune of connecting with Karen DeGuzman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Karen, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
My thought process in starting my own business was that I wanted to satisfy this need to create something entirely mine. My husband was actually the person to convince me to quit my job and jump into this business. I thought to myself, if I could use everything I’ve learned from being a pastry chef to a general manager of a bakery, and apply it to my own business, I could definitely make this work. I thought about what customer base I wanted, the outline of my menu, developing my menu and what brand I wanted everyone to know me by. I simply put my head down and worked, all while trusting that if I put in the work everything would work itself out.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Graduating from the Art Institute of Austin in Baking & Pastry, I worked at many bakeries trying to figure out where I truly wanted to be, I went from bread, to decorating cookies, and then finally found my home in cake. I worked for Quack’s Bakery in Austin at first doing cookies, and as a mixer. I made all of their fillings, buttercream, and sheeting cookie dough. They later, gave me a chance with cake, it took me a bit to grow into a better decorator and find my style, but after continuously practicing, I got better. Then an opportunity was available to work for Whole Foods and that is where I saw Jeff again. He gave me another opportunity because I was looking for a place to be creative, and yet learn fast production. When I got the position as a cake decorator, I met some amazing people that taught me different techniques, and I learned how to efficiently produce cakes all while still providing the same quality. I was actually very happy staying in Austin at Whole Foods, but then Jeff approached me after he moved to Houston, about helping to start a cake program at Common Bond. My husband convinced me to just view the café & bakery in person, and when I did, it felt right. It felt scary, but exciting. I took the job, and with the help of Jeff, created an entire menu of cakes, that you even see now. Those flavors are what we created in 2016, and it felt amazing to have had a part in something that grew to be what it is now. As I grew from the position I was in, I lost myself and found myself to be unhappy yearning for something else. It wasn’t until I took another job, after working for 3 years with Common Bond, that my husband convinced me to do something entirely for myself, and that is what is Butter Baby Bakery is now. Was it easy? Absolutely not, in every situation leading until where I am now, I’ve had struggles of trying to figure out whether or not this was meant for me because I wasn’t the best decorator. I was slow, I was messy and the fact that Quack’s Bakery gave me a chance to improve, helped me find my style, and Whole Foods helped mold my speed, and my creativity, There were many times, where I wasn’t sure if I should continue because the labor and the long hours wore on me, but at the end of day when people would come to Common Bond for the signature style I created there, it made me feel unique and special in what I do. Which made it all the more worth continuously creating. Those places molded me into who I am now, the people I came across, helped me grow, and Butter Baby Bakery is every bit of everything I’ve learned over the years. It represents the better part of me, and screams me from the menu to the designs and I couldn’t have done it without going through this journey.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favorite spots to take my friends and family all tend to deal with food. I’d take them to Baby Baranaby’s for breakfast or to Tornado Taco for some breakfast tacos. Then we would maybe head to Ocean Palace for some afternoon dim sum.
For a nice cold treat, I’d either hit up any of the following: Texas Shaved Ice Express for the best Mangonadas, Strawberries & Cream shaved ice or king mangoes. If my family or friends aren’t in the mood for that, we could get some Korean bingsu at Snowy Village. But if my family or friends are just wanting a drink, we could go and get some boba at Long Coffee.
Then we could stop by discovery green to walk around, and go around town finding Houston murals to get some pictures in. After those cold treats, we’d head towards Galveston, stop by Shrimp ‘N Stuff to grab some fried oysters, gumbo and fish tacos, and take the ferry to Bolivar Peninsula to head to Crystal Beach to have a picnic on the beach.
Then we could enjoy some dinner and drinks at La Lucha to enjoy their chowder fries, and fried chicken, after some drinks, if we’re still hungry we could go to Burger Joint for a late night pick me up.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Jonathan Lopez: My husband, I truly would not have started this business without him. He pushed me into this when I was entirely filled with doubt. He told me to take this chance, and if all else fails, I could go back to working for someone else again. He really pushed me to just go for it and trust that it’ll work out. Even to this day, it being a year, he even helps me in whatever way he can.
Jeff Ontiveros: Jeff has really helped guide me in a lot of my career, I wouldn’t have never moved to Houston if he didn’t give me the opportunity to help create the cake program from the ground up for Common Bond. He’s guided and mentored me through my business journey.
My parents, brothers and in laws, and sisters in laws have helped by continuously cheering me on throughout the growth of this business.
All photos were taken by myself.