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Women's History Month: Hailey Kwon - Owner Of Dots Cafe

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DeMarco Morgan talks to the owner of SoCal's own, Dots Cafe. For 15 years, Kwon has been baking everything from red velvet, to raspberry lemon and servicing clients like the LA Dodgers, Disney and Katie Perry. Kwon talks about how she started, her upbringing in an immigrant family and how she pivoted her business after the COVID pandemic and came out on top!

Video Transcript

- It's Women's History Month, and today, we are introducing you to a woman who is making history. And she's sharing all the ingredients to her secret recipe when it comes to making sweet dreams come true. Here's KCAL9's DeMarco Morgan.

DEMARCO MORGAN: Inside Dots Cafe here in Pasadena, you'll find just about every flavored cupcake imaginable. Everything from red velvet to raspberry lemon--

HAILEY KWON: Quality ingredients. Fresh fruit.

DEMARCO MORGAN: --and, of course, there's something for chocolate lovers, too.

HAILEY KWON: We bake from scratch every day. We bake our frosting. We make our sugar pieces. It's really a labor of love, because there's so many components in a cupcake.

DEMARCO MORGAN: Hailey Kwon, the owner, boasts major clients like the LA Dodgers, Angels, Disney, and even Katy Perry.

HAILEY KWON: Been in business for 15 years, and the cafe's been open for three years now.

DEMARCO MORGAN: I had to make the trip to see what the fuss was all about. The cupcakes are amazing! But what's even more amazing is how Kwon got her start in the cupcake business and the blessing to move ahead with what is now one of three restaurants here in SoCal.

HAILEY KWON: So we're immigrants to this country. And my parents had this, you know, dream for us like a lot of immigrant families-- to go to college and, you know, start your own business.

DEMARCO MORGAN: Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Kwon, migrated to the US from Seoul, South Korea back in 1983.

HAILEY KWON: In 2005, I was working for the Los Angeles Dodgers. And I was kind of starting a corporate career. And my father had passed away suddenly, so-- it gets me every time. Sorry.

DEMARCO MORGAN: No, it's OK. Your father meant everything to you.

HAILEY KWON: Even though it's been 16 years, it's still hard to talk about. Before my father had passed, even though he was so excited, he had said that if you ever want to quit or do your own thing, he said, it's OK. You can leave, and you could start something. And he was just as happy-- me starting my own company.

DEMARCO MORGAN: Her mom works with her now, along with a team of more than a dozen employees. Like nearly all small businesses across the state, Kwon's cafe experienced challenging times as a result of the pandemic over the past year.

HAILEY KWON: We didn't really know what to anticipate. And immediately, all our customers were not coming in our doors. All our orders got canceled. I mean, we're talking thousands and thousands of dollars instantly that were canceled and we had to refund.

DEMARCO MORGAN: She learned, however, to quickly adapt to the inevitable.

HAILEY KWON: One of the first things that we did was we changed our business model.

DEMARCO MORGAN: Hailey and her team shifted their focus from baking cupcakes to cooking supper for families forced to work from home.

HAILEY KWON: So we thought, hey, all the families are at home. The kids are at home. The moms and dads are working. Nobody's still going to have time for food.

DEMARCO MORGAN: And it worked.

HAILEY KWON: So we were able to prepare dinners for four.

DEMARCO MORGAN: What started out as selling dinners for eight families quickly grew to 150 families a night. You're not alone. Customers and other businesses have helped you survive.

HAILEY KWON: Oh, absolutely.

DEMARCO MORGAN: And as a result, Kwon never had to lay off any of her workers. She also managed to give back to charities like the Dodgers Dream Foundation, Children's Hospital LA, and local food drives. The biggest lesson she's learned through it all-- it really doesn't matter how you start. Just make sure you're always working toward a sweet ending.

HAILEY KWON: It's almost like it's kind of your path, and you have to, you know, do everything you can to make your dream come true.

- All-you-can-watch DeMarco with Suzanne Marques-- weekdays on "CBS2 News This Morning" starting at 4:30 AM.