Cameca Bacchus doesn’t shy away from reinvention, having toggled between corporate roles, baking and motherhood. She takes inspiration from women like Sylvia Weinstock who achieved success much later in life.
“I can crunch numbers well, but my passion really is baking,” she says.
“When the subprime crisis happened, I remember walking to my office one day and seeing people leaving with all their stuff at the time, losing their jobs left and right,” she recalls. “I said, ‘it might be a matter of time before I’m one of those people, so maybe I should figure out what I really enjoy instead of what I just do well.’”
One week later, she filled out an application for culinary school, and then nine months later left her corporate finance job, and began classes while working for a catering company. Things changed again when she started her family.
“The thing with working at bakeries, is that you start really early, like, I was working a shift from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. but not being around in the mornings is what’s tricky,” she says. “You also would work on the weekends, so that was another point of losing Saturdays and Sundays–when can we ever have a day when we’re all home together–because you just don’t get to replace that time.”
Now Cameca approaches baking as a part-time passion, one cake at a time. Her goal is to grow Creations by Cameca at a gradual pace as her kids get older and more independent. Meanwhile, she is back in a corporate role and also has time to support causes like Behind the Book as a board member, which is hosting its Book Bash fundraiser on June 19 in Washington Heights to give 3,000 books to young people in the neighborhood.
“The biggest goal I have now is to continue to just refine my craft,” she says. “I have a two year old, and I still want to be able to enjoy that season of her life, so I don’t necessarily want to sacrifice the key parts of the day for baking at this point.”
As any mother who juggles a corporate job and young kids can attest, there isn’t a lot of energy left at the end of the day. That’s precisely when Cameca heads into the kitchen.
“Baking has always been something that I find reduces my stress,” she says. “The key is just that I can take my time and really give it the deliberate, intentional devotion it needs. It’s because I enjoy it, it gives me a sense of calm, so even though I’m doing it at the end of the day, I know I’m the only one in my kitchen and I can take my time.”
Cameca encourages fellow moms to focus on the long game and not put pressure on ourselves to achieve milestones at the pace we were once accustomed to, and to be “okay with things not happening in the exact time frame that you wanted.”
“You can take your time and you can really let yourself grow in stages,” she says. “So that when you do land on the top, you can stay there.”
And for those moments when you’re feeling overwhelmed or questioning yourself and your choices?
“Remember your reason why you’re even pushing for this in the first place,” she says. “Where you might be right in that moment is not where your story’s going to end. That’s just one point where you are and your story is still being written.”
Cameca sees burnout as a sign that it’s time to reevaluate and make changes, pointing to the critical need of a support system when you’re “taking any leap.”
“Who’s going to help catch you?” she says. “You can’t have it all without support. It’s just impossible to do by yourself.”
Cameca seeks support from her husband, her mom and friends when she needs an extra set of hands or hours outside of her late night baking sessions. And her kids will pitch in, especially for a taste test.
“They definitely have an appreciation for it and so I do hope, at some point, they can see that ‘hey, mommy’s a business owner,’ like this is something that people can do,” she says. “You can own a business and run a business, so that’s important for them to know.”
“Someday, I do want to have a bakery where they can run in and be like, ‘mom, let me help you.’ That’s my goal.”