Today we’d like to introduce you to Crystal Morales.
Crystal, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Born and Raised in South Central Los Angeles. I never in a million years thought I’d be where I am now, especially not be called a Chef. Originally I thought I’d become a police officer or detective since I was attending Cal State Dominguez Hills majoring in criminal justice. During school not only was I focused on myself but also helping take care of my grandmother who was sick with cancer and helping with my siblings. I’m the eldest of five and at the time I was a full time student with two jobs in retail.
As I came close to finishing my degree I tried to join the police academy and got discouraged when I didn’t pass a test of there’s, they suggested I return in four years. After that happened I changed my major and decided to continue school for business management. At that time school became harder, I was so distracted with things going on at home and just wanted to spend as much time as i could with my grandmother.
I learned all my cooking from her. She was the rock of the family. She kept everyone together and till this day we keep our family traditions alive in remembrance of her. Every time I cook or bake I feel close to her, so many memories come rushing back. When my grandmother passed I was lost and confused on what to do with my life. I stopped school for a while, quit my job, just had my first real heartbreak and lost the only person I knew I could go to for anything. She was, still is my world. As I tried to get out of depression my mother tried anything and everything to get us back to life.
My mothers strength to push through things is beyond me and I can only hope to be half the woman she is. During the tough time we were going through my mother tried to find a way to distract us so she thought it was a good idea to sign us up for cake decorating classes at Micheal’s. Which I thought was the dumbest idea ever but the moment I took the class I fell in love. I loved it so much that I took all the courses available. I didn’t think anything of it at first and just figured I’d pass time and do it for fun. So I started baking and decorating at home for fun until one day my aunt suggested to sell them. I sold to family and friends, nothing major until I got on social media and the entertainment industry. I didn’t think my cakes were anything major so I started modeling and doing music videos. I modeled a lot for Echosworld ent. at the time and was a backup dancer in a couple videos from working with LMFAO to being in videos with The Game, Mustard, Nipsey Hussle, Snow Tha Product, Tyga and more. Definitely was a great experience and perfect chance for me to network and I figured since I was still doing cakes it would lead me somewhere. So I started promoting my work a lot more and came to realize this was the career I wanted.
I practiced day in and day out to get better and better. I googled and YouTubed a lot to learn more about cake decorating and baking. I knew how to cook already thanks to my grandmother but was a self-taught baker. I knew I loved baking but didn’t realize how far it would take me until i got my first big deal cake thanks to my friend Branden King. I was on set for a music video and while being on set I started telling people I baked from home and did custom cakes. Him and I spoke and became friends ever since. Didn’t think one of my dreams would be coming true after that moment.
Instead of getting any job at and place I dedicated my time at becoming a home baker. The better I got the more people ordered and I was loving every moment. I figured since we didn’t have a place in my area where you can get custom work I should start something up. A lot of people doubted me because they didn’t really see anything coming from being a home baker. It was silly to them but I worked hard to perfect my craft as I’m still trying to perfect it now. I cried many times, worked 24hrs straight no sleep and nonstop work. Nothing is actually too much different now but I just try to figure out what more I can do to get to the next level.
When I was younger, I know it’s silly but I was in love with Chris Brown. I use to say one day I’ll meet him. Didn’t know how or when but one day I will. A couple of months forward from meeting Branden and being in the Hollywood scene networking and promoting my work, I get a call at about midnight. It was a call from Branden and EJ a famous stylist, that they want a massive cake for Chris Brown’s album release party, The X album. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but I couldn’t say no. They needed the cake for the next day and I had to figure it out! I cried in panic not knowing how I was gonna get it done! But with the push and help of my parents I figured it out and got it done! My first major celebrity cake was for Chris Brown and it only got better from there.
Being in the industry I met so many great and humble people who I’m happy to call friends and supported my work. I stopped modeling and started focusing more in becoming a professional baker. I make cakes for weddings, birthdays any special occasions. I’ve made cakes for Trey Songz, Amber Rose, Dirty Draws, Juicy J, Jordan Clarkson, mitu network, Jordan brand, and many more. But nothing more special than doing more personal cakes like my aunts and uncle’s wedding, cousins sweet 16 my sons 1st, 2nd and 3rd bday. I hold many, many cakes close to my heart. I put so much love and passion into every single one. I’ve been blessed and thankful to everyone who’s supported me through my journey. Thank You!!!!!!
I also did personal chef work for a great stylist for about a year and learned so much more about my abilities. Learned to take so much criticism and not take it personal which I appreciate so much. Thanks Vick Michel. Even tho I felt I was doing great from being a self-taught baker I still decided I wanted to go to culinary school. I enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu and went to school. It was so much harder than I thought, taking courses at 6 am and working graveyard to make credits to graduate and still doing cakes from home. I finally graduated in 2016 and at the same time found out I was pregnant.
Not once did I think pregnancy would stop me from chasing my dreams! I continued to work hard and finally decided it was time for me to get the feel of working in a real kitchen environment and got a job at the whisper lounge at the grove. Fast-paced fine dining. I learned so much from there and worked throughout my entire pregnancy in a kitchen from starting off as pastry chef to moving up to a sous chef. Loved every bit of it and yet I still continued my business from home. My main priority and focus was and still is my business and now my son.
Things have only gotten more busy now. Balancing motherhood, my own business and full time work at a local bakery, it’s tough but thanks to my family’s support and help I’ve been able to manage. Plus my son loves to help and even if it’s just to make a mess he enjoys being next to me in the kitchen. I am currently working at Rose Bakery at Dover street market in the arts district of Los Angeles. I’m focused more than ever to move my work to the next level. I want to mentally and financially be in a place where I’m comfortable to move on my own and not work for anyone else but myself. I have my son to think about now so I have to be smart about my choices. I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to that move. In the mean time ima continue to work hard to hit my goal of opening and owning my own cafe or bakery. That’s my GOAL!
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not been a easy road at all!!! When I first started making cakes it was all for fun. Didn’t think I’d make any money and being a self-taught baker I learned many, MANY THINGS the hard way. I’ve had cakes break on me as I was delivering, they’ve melted or weren’t stable enough. It was a disaster. I’ve had to give cakes away for free because it didn’t meet my expectations or it just didn’t make it through delivery and fell apart.
Many nights and days I’ve cried because I messed up and had to start all over or something just didn’t come out right. It hurt more when I was being doubted. I started doubting myself many times. But I never gave up. I had finally found something I was passionate about and loved to do. Sleepless nights practicing and working to get it right. I’ve been working so hard to keeping improving in my career. It hasn’t gotten any easier but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I LOVE WHAT I DO! I’ve put in so much work, time and energy to give up on my goals now.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I’m a Pastry Chef from South Cental LA and I’m mainly known for my custom sculpted cakes. I’ve been doing it for about 7yrs now and I rarely get any regular orders. I’ve done realistic cakes from hats and body parts, to cars and shoes. What I’m most proud of is to see how much I continue to improve in my art! From simply having sharp edges on a cake to intricate detail. I still surprise and amaze myself from the outcome. I know that sounds corny but I just start off by imagining the cake and drawing it out on paper. It’s tricky sometimes to start off because one wrong carve or cut, I can ruin the whole thing and I’d have to start all over.
And starting over with as many orders as I have is not ideal. Every cake I make is special to me because I put so much effort, work and passion. I love to be proud of my work and not just ok with it. I’ve always dreamed of a family business and now that I know what I want my business to be, it’s just a matter of time it becoming a reality. I want to show my son that his momma is the definition of hard work and goal chaser. With the work ethic my family has I know it’ll be GREAT!!! I want my son to be proud of me and what I’ve created not only for myself but for him and our future.
What were you like growing up?
Growing up I was always the skinny quiet, shy girl who got picked on. I didn’t have many friends and was bullied for a long time. I was a tomboy for many years and never put myself out there. I was always into sports and academics. I finally got out of my shell in high school when I met my best friends. I was still into sports and always made sure to stay on top of my academics but became a lot more social and started going out even tho parents were so strict. But thanks to my parents I have a great head on my shoulders and because of them, I work as hard as I do now. I grew up seeing how hard they worked being young parents with five kids. I’ve always stuck with their ethic of being humble to everyone I meet and to always go above and beyond with everything I do. Thank you mom & dad for everything you’ve done and continue doing, Love you!!
- Phone: 2132498343
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: Cupcakincrystal
- Twitter: Cupcakincrystal