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Meet Angelea Iafornaro of The Suga Mama in San Carlos

Today we’d like to introduce you to Angelea Iafornaro.

Angelea, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I began my relationship with creativity and developed my ingenuous sweet tooth as a child. I would make anything from miniature houses out of cardboard and cotton balls, to custom designed (using a fork as my pastry tool) peanut butter cookies. I grew up in a house with 4 older brothers and their love for my baked goods was definitely an inspiration, as I realized that I could create something that other people loved.

As I grew older, I found myself becoming a DIY fanatic, and I started making anything from my own jewelry to oatmeal and honey face masks, and friend’s birthday cakes. Although I do enjoy art in general, my focus has really come to 2 main specialties: Cake and Skincare. I know I know, these 2 do not typically go hand in hand, especially since sugar is the skin’s enemy, but bear with me. I love to create, I have always been interested in natural skincare and trying to stop the clock, and let’s be honest my sweet tooth has not diminished in the 20-something years since I was a child. I also like to have variety in my life and cannot do the same exact thing every day, so this has led me to “The Suga Mama”. This is a brand where I can fuse the 2 loves of my creative life (I have 2 other loves of my family life-my son and boyfriend, so I have to disclose that: D)

My long-term goal is to find ways to make “healthy” cakes and pastries taste as divine as those with butter and cane sugar, but I am not there quite yet. I want to create products that promote beauty from the inside out, while allowing clients/customers to treat themselves and indulge a bit in those little things that can make a big difference in someone’s day or milestone in life.

Not only do I like to bake, but I like to decorate my cakes and take pride in making them look as good as they taste. I love simple cupcakes topped with fruit and buttercream, tall 2-3 tier cakes with elegant designs, cartoon themed cakes, and have recently tackled the art of macaron making, both using the French and Italian methods!

For my skincare products, I focus on simple organic ingredients, that nourish the skin and make you feel renewed. I love making body butter, scrubs, lip balms, soap, and candles. I use all-natural essential oils, some of which I even use in my baking!

I currently make cakes and desserts for events primarily, including baby showers, birthday parties, and bridal showers. I focus on skin care products during the holidays and create custom gift baskets, selling at local markets and to friends and family. I focus the majority of my content and promotions through Instagram and also follow many local bakers, artists, and entrepreneurs for inspiration.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road has definitely not always been smooth, especially since I have always had a “9-5” and was a single mother for many years. I had little time to experiment and practice, but I always managed to sneak in an afternoon here and there where I could work on my craft. Sometimes that meant creating something different that my son would enjoy, such as one time when we made “oobleck”, and other times I would have him help me mix the batter or measure the sugar. I also have to admit that although most of my baked goods have been tasty throughout the years, they were not always pretty. I have also had some major fails, like one time I made a peanut butter filling and it was too runny, causing my cake layers to slide off and onto the floor.

Oh, also the first time I made my now-favorite Italian buttercream, (which involves a hot sugar syrup heated to exactly 240 degrees), I tried to do so with a hand mixer (one hand on mixer, other with hot syrup), I heated the sugar syrup too high, poured it at an awkward angle, and there went crispy sugar threads flying all over my mixing bowl, counter, and my hands. THAT was a great memory and makes me oh so thankful for the stand mixer I have now. One last flop was the second (and third) time I made macarons. That’s right, not the first time since I believe I had beginners luck and they came out beautiful, causing me to think I had a secret deal with the macaron gods. Then the second time I made them they all cracked, and the third time, they spread out way too far. It has been an uphill battle with those guys, but it is a happy day when they come out near perfect! At the end of the day, I love the entire process including the struggle, and I am nowhere near finished learning and improving. I will continue to better my process, skill level, and the time I devote to creating. Practice and trial and error are part of it, and this makes it much more worth it when you have a success.

The Suga Mama – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I specialize in custom cakes and desserts, as well as natural skincare products. I am most proud of the fact that I am creating something that makes others happy, whether it is a baby shower cake that adds that extra touch to a client’s life event, or a relaxing sugar scrub that makes a customer feel like they have brought the spa home. I love seeing others happy and knowing that I was able to contribute to that.

I enjoy making full dessert tables and being a part of the design process, as this gives me more creative freedom.

Currently, I would say that what sets me apart is my attention to detail and investment in the entire process with a customer. If someone comes to me because they are having a bridal shower, I not only ask them for an idea of what they would like, but I offer suggestions. I will spend the time learning about the entire wedding theme, which flowers they will have, what their favorite flavors are, if anyone has allergies, is there anything unique to the bride I should know about that I can incorporate? etc. I really want the cake and desserts to be a part of their entire day and leave a great impression on all in attendance. If I open a shop one day, I would like to start hosting classes there and help other new bakers and decorators. I am all about community and collaboration over competition. I want to be well known and appreciated, but I also know there is room for so much talent in this world. I would like to work on larger cakes and events with a team of individuals. I am not interested in becoming a billionaire, but more so in making a living doing what I love while also inspiring others to do what they love.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I would consider myself successful when I have the means to truly help others achieve their goals. I would also consider myself successful when I am at the point where I am waking up each day to work towards a larger goal that brings happiness to myself and my family, rather than working a job that does not contribute to our happiness.

I like my current job, but I do not love it. I am in social media for a technology company, and much of what goes right and wrong are not within my control. I would like to have a more direct connection with my company and be more of a leader. I believe my place in life is within a business where I will have both a business and creative role.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Dexter Singer and Sasha Novikov

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