Jaylene Ponce began her love of baking and the culinary arts at an early age at the side of her grandmother. A passion she shares has been with her for most of her life.
A passion which now has transpired into Jaylenes Baking, a home based business which has kept the Oakdale High School alum busy since its launch in the spring of last year.
“Lots of chocolate chip cookies and cupcakes in the beginning,” Ponce said of her informal start close to seven years ago baking solely for family and friends. “Now lots of sugar cookies and wedding cakes.”
Her first official year as a business owner found her baking between 300 to 500 sugar cookies a week (more at holidays) and baking wedding cakes, as well as sweets for wedding dessert bars.
“To bake that many it takes about four to six hours,” she said of the sugar cookies, noting a selection of about 2,000 cutters. “It’s the decorating that takes about two days to do the whole process.”
The 2011 OHS grad, however, is not afraid of a little hard work. Ponce, a BYU graduate, completed her studies at the Idaho campus in two and a half years. majoring in Home and Family/Culinary Arts.
“I did it in two and a half years. Busted my way through it,” Ponce shared of her Bachelors degree. “I was graduated before I was 21.”
While her dream had always been to pursue culinary arts, she had been advised to pursue a “real” job and move toward a job in education.
“I think I like just being creative. I like seeing people’s faces light up when they see their order,” she said of following her dream and carving out a career in baking. “I actually went to school to be a teacher because I was told this wasn’t going to be stable and I needed to have a career.”
Ponce shared openly, while she enjoyed the hobby of it and providing the baked confections for family and friends, it was the sudden life change of becoming a single mom which prompted her to reevaluate the path her career was taking. At the time she was in a stable, yet unfulfilling job which kept her from her son.
“I kind of just took a jump for it,” she said of rebranding and launching Jaylenes last April. “And said, he deserves this, so I’m going to give my all to this.”
She also acknowledges a feeling of being blessed by a lot of local support from the get go, requiring very little by way of business promotion aside from social media. Her customer base includes residents of Oakdale, Riverbank, Modesto and some parts of the foothills.
Of the many baked goods she offers, the sugar cookie is hands down the most popular item. So much so that she approximates there hasn’t been a week in the past year that she hasn’t made sugar cookies.
“We made them when I was super little,” she said of her grandmother’s sugar cookie recipe, which she now uses. “Every Christmas we would make them and decorate them with her. She was my best friend.”
Perhaps it was the influence of the early days baking with her grandmother or her post-college adventures working at the Ritz Carlton Marina Del Rey or Cayman Islands which served as confirmation for Ponce to maintain her dream.
While the love for her son became her launching point, the early years post-graduation exposed the baking enthusiast to a life inspired by the pros.
While working in the Cayman Islands she was able to assist pastry chef Florian Bellanger of Cupcake Wars fame, with his macaron station during the Cayman Cookout.
“We all just got to cook together and were out on the beach, living our best lives,” she said of the Cayman experience.
Loving the island life, yet missing her roots and the states, Ponce returned to Oakdale with no regrets and a wealth of knowledge. Her dreams were not just maintained by the experience but heightened.
“Don’t let anyone put a halt on your dreams,” she offered as advice to young people. “You’re the one that’s capable of making your dream possible. Just go out and pursue it.”
As the business continues to thrive, Ponce shared her next step will be to pursue a commercial kitchen to run her business from. Eventually she would like to open a bakery. A goal she has given herself time to achieve while her son grows through the early years.
“My goal is to have it before I’m 30, so I think I’m good,” the 26-year-old said.
“Hard work pays off,” Ponce noted of her life experience thus far. “You just gotta keep going. Don’t let people tell you no. You gotta do what makes you happy.”
And happiness, as well as increased success is precisely what keeps this mom going.
“I love communicating with the customers, I love the interactions,” she said. “I really do like sugar cookies and to see them from start to finish.”
To contact Ponce and learn more about her services and pricing visit her Facebook page at: Jaylenes Baking or on Instagram at Jaylenes Baking Co.
“Shoot for the stars,” she concluded. “You’re the only one who can limit yourself.”