A Highland Park local is one of many who lost her job due the pandemic. But she said it encouraged her to start her own business.
- The pandemic has taken a big toll on the livelihoods of food and restaurant workers. As community journalist Sophie Flay shows us, one woman who lost her job found a way to put the icing back on the cake using her skills to start her own business.
SOPHIE FLAY: According to the California Employment Development Department, nearly half of people working in the leisure and hospitality industry lost their jobs in April 2020 compared to April 2019. Highland Park local Genesis Aviles is no stranger to that.
GENESIS AVILES: I work at a cafe in Highland Park-- [INAUDIBLE] Kitchen. I was a prep cook, and I was also the baker there.
SOPHIE FLAY: But it wasn't long into the pandemic that she got laid off and then brought back with limited hours.
GENESIS AVILES: It was probably the beginning of April, where it just wasn't enough hours. And I also wasn't too comfortable going out. Like, I was paranoid myself.
SOPHIE FLAY: So Aviles decided to leave, unsure of how she would help her husband pay rent.
GENESIS AVILES: I realized I need a job. I need money. I can't just-- but I'm afraid to go work somewhere. So I had-- I had baked cake before, and I would make them maybe for like Mother's Day, Father's Day. And I would occasionally, like, post them, and people would buy them for those occasions.
SOPHIE FLAY: So she started posting about her cake baking and decorating skills on social media. And almost immediately, she started getting orders.
GENESIS AVILES: I was surprised at how many messages came through. And I even told my husband-- I was, like, it won't stop, like, beeping. Like, people were just messaging me and ordering cakes.
SOPHIE FLAY: Aviles fulfills about five orders a day from home and is now making more money than she was at her old job.
GENESIS AVILES: It just kind of pushed me to do my own thing. So I'm glad I did. It's kind of like a blessing in disguise, I would say.
SOPHIE FLAY: You can see more of her cakes by searching Wildflower Kitchen Company on Instagram. In Highland Park, Sophie Flay, ABC7 Eyewitness News.