In the year In 2021, I received a call from Amazon Web Services (AWS) to bake my 100 custom-designed cookies for the first launch. Consider AWS a big place Local school. That cookie order may not seem like much, but it was a big deal to me, and it changed my life.
That first AWS order helped make my business one of the most popular sources of cakes and cookies in Eastern Oregon, and I continue to supply AWS cookies to local community events.
I moved from Mexico to the United States as a teenager. I am now a mother of two, and have been running my business, Xcolatl Bakery, from my home here in Borman since 2003. Mexico.
Before AWS helped me take my business to the next level, I did all my baking from the oven of my tiny house. I can still visualize the mixer standing in the corner of the busy kitchen helping me fulfill orders for birthday parties and special events.
Today, I moved into a larger facility, a small, separate house in our backyard where I keep all my supplies, ovens, racks, and 3D printers. I do everything here, from bookkeeping to baking.
One tip I would give to other small business owners is to completely separate personal and business expenses. This ensures a clear line between the two finances and never threatens my family if my business falls on hard times.
Having said that, I would not have achieved any of my success without my family. They swarm everywhere. My son Alberto is one of my main assistants when I have a big order, and my daughter Paola helps me with her good skills.
My husband always helps with the heavy lifting, even after a full day at work on his own. My mom still teaches me old baking techniques, and my sister always puts the finishing touches on the packaging of my cookies and cakes. I also have a large family, and each one helps in their own way.
One of the most strategic moves I made was investing in a 3D printer to print cookie cutters. I make cookies of all shapes and sizes, and I’ve been buying a lot of cutters. Quality cookie cutters cost about $6 each, and a 3D printer is around $200. I did the math, and even though it took a while to recoup the investment, having the ability to print cookie cutters in the exact size and design I wanted was invaluable in establishing my brand and streamlining my business.
The 3D printer helps me make cookies for each customer. For the last AWS Women in Tech Day event, AWS sent me the logos and designs they wanted in advance. I uploaded them to my computer, and the 3D printer designed and manufactured the cookie cutter.
“AWS has had a huge impact in creating many more jobs in the area. The company’s investments have also improved our education system. We now have programs for our children in the summer. Next year, our first local high. The school will offer a robotics class.”
Alma Nunez for Zama
Owner of Xcolatl Bakery
Another thing I have invested in is a food press. A food printer prints edible ink onto the cookies to provide background, color and character to my designs.
Then I make ice cubes and other goodies by hand to bring the creation fully to life. Buying the printer helped me make cookies with more intricate designs.
For the most recent AWS event I made cookies for, the opening of the AWS Think Big Space at Umatilla High School, I designed all the logos and designs myself. The ability to create such special orders was almost impossible to imagine a few years ago.
I am so happy to see people enjoying my cookies. I can’t believe that my work is part of these amazing efforts to help more young people learn about technology. These kinds of events are very important because the children in my area, including my son Alberto – who loves everything related to technology – have the opportunity to learn new skills. It helps them to dream big.
AWS has had a huge impact in creating many more jobs in the area. The company’s investments have also improved our education system. We now have programs for our children during the summer. Next year, for the first time, our local high school will offer robotics classes. This is a big step for our children. Our society has always been focused on agriculture. But these classes will prepare our children to be more involved in the technological challenges of the future.
Learn more about Amazon Investments in Eastern Oregon and our influence in Communities where we have information centers.
Alma baking tips
Know the temperature of your oven
I often get asked for tips on baking the “perfect cookie.” My response? Know your oven temperature. This may sound silly because ovens tell you the temperature, but oven thermometers are often inaccurate or misplaced so the reading does not represent the entire oven compartment. I recommend buying your own thermometer. Knowing the right temperature will help you have a clear handle on the baking process.
Pay for the main ingredients
Paying for key ingredients is also important. It took me a long time to understand this. Even baking powder has different quality levels. Flour, salt, sugar, filling – if you want the best cookies, you need the best ingredients. The difference will be worth it.
There is no wrong way to bake
My final advice to people when it comes to baking: There is no wrong way. Ask your elders. Talk to your friends. Take care of the internet. If you want the perfect chocolate cookies, find 10 ways to make them, try the most delicious ones and then make your own recipe.
Don’t just search for “chocolate cookies” and accept the first result. Baking takes practice. It’s an art form, and I love it!
This video and story are part of the new AWS documentation, Data Center: Eastern OregonIt celebrates the members of the local community in an unexpected way as their lives in the cloud change for the better. Check out the latest episodes in the series.