Southeast Missouri State University student publication

A student, a bakery, and a dream

Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Jessica Mercado examines a cake she has made, putting the finishing touches of coconut on top. This cake will be shared amongst her friends and family as a way to introduce more people to her bakery.
Photo by Emma Kratky.

From a childhood dream to a necessity, the creation of a bakery is in the works for a certain SEMO student.

Jessica Mercado, student and mother, is promoting her home bakery and is looking for both customers and supporters. After years of challenges blocking her path, she now has both the clarity and the time needed to get her business started.

Mercado has had an interest in starting a bakery since she was 10 years old, but it has not always been an accessible idea.

“I always thought when I was little it would be so easy to build a bakery somewhere and have a big business, but then you run into so many different obstacles like having a child, and then it's pushed onto the backburner,” Mercado said.

Mercado said she also had the struggle of having to return to school after dropping out from culinary school, due to increasing tuition rates.

“What I learned from school online and what I’ve experienced in general is what I’ve built off of now,” Mercado said.

Mercado is studying business management at SEMO, where she learns the ins and outs of how to create and maintain a business beyond being able to bake.

Her experience with baking stemmed from her family. Her mom's side of the family created traditional items like cakes and cookies, and her dad’s side baked items related to Mexican culture, like churros and Mexican bread.

Currently, within her home bakery, she is selling cookies, cupcakes, special-order cakes, breads and churros, as well as vegan dog treats and hot cocoa ornaments.

This cake is a vanilla pecan cake with cream cheese frosting and cream filling, toasted shredded coconut and vanilla cookie decor on top.
Photo by Emma Kratky.

Mercado said she didn’t have the motivation to start her bakery on her own. She attributes much of the organization to her two closest friends, Heather Volkerding and Hannah Martin.

Volkerding was a main catalyst to getting Mercado on her feet and noticed the amount of work she was putting into her business.

“I encouraged her to go to business school and helped her through the process of going to SEMO,” Volkerding said. “She’s very into finding original and not done-before flavors, and she's always researching.”

Martin, helps Mercado with the emotional and personal sides of her business.

“I know that she grew up baking; we talk about how both of our families bake a lot, and how it was an integral part of growing up,” Martin said. “Baking is important to her because she wants to keep family traditions and recipes going and pass them on to her son.”

Although Mercado is in her first year of business school, she is getting a head start on creating her own business.

Within the business department, entrepreneurship assistant professor Ed Crowley understands the pros and cons of starting a business from both years of teaching and personal experience.

“I absolutely think everyone should start a part-time business and experience entrepreneurship in order to understand the risks you have to take, the challenges and managing the cash flow,” Crowley said. “It’s never too late to start a business.”

As she is approaching 30, Mercado said she is elated to begin her business and make an outreach to the local community. She is also interested in helping people on a global level and will donate one dollar of every sale to a combination of two charities, One Tree Planted and the Dolphin Project.

If you’d like to help Mercado personally, visit her GoFundMe page. To find out more about her business, visit her on Facebook or Instagram.

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