While shopping in the refrigerated section of a local grocery store, your attention may have been caught by the desserts that are normally seen on the menu of many Hispanic families – desserts that are sometimes seen at parties but which are also nice for a delicious treat at home.
The creator of some of these desserts is an Argentinian who arrived in the United States more than 30 years ago. Aida Awad is the owner of the Momma’s Baked Goods dessert line, which has been delighting the taste buds of Sunshine State residents for more than a decade.
Labels on flans and tres leches made by Momma’s Baked Goods bear the name of the dessert in English, but also in Spanish, signaling that Hispanic hands are involved in creating what Awad considers America’s favorite desserts for Latino family celebrations.
When Awad came to the United States, her first stop was in Brooklyn, New York. She eventually moved to Florida where she says she had no intention of becoming a businesswoman. Life had other plans for her.
“I worked at Albertsons as a decorator for eight years. Then I quit my job and worked at Publix too and I thought it would be nice if I could do the tres leches and the desserts, the Latin sweets,” she said. She decided to set up her business and started selling her sweets in Bravo Supermarkets.
The first dessert available at Momma’s Baked Goods was tres leches, which she says “wasn’t very well known yet.” Soon after, she added the blanks.
Although Awad has reduced the intensity of her work by handing over the responsibility of running the business to her children, she still works on special orders.
Before her desserts found their way into popular chain refrigerators, she had to build a clientele to whom she delivered the desserts with her husband.
“I started in my house, then I rented a kitchen and started working in the kitchen, then I went to stewardship,” she said. She eventually saw Mexicans and Puerto Ricans becoming a large part of her clientele. “I had a lot of Mexican customers, they loved [tres leches] and Puerto Ricans too.
Now, in addition to having the desserts at Bravo, the public can also find them at Whole Foods Market.
“I like people to know what we’ve done, which also requires a lot of sacrifice for me, because getting clients isn’t easy and I like people to know how we started, so that if someone wants to do it, they can also do the same,” advised Awad. “Don’t back down but keep on working.”
Her children have followed her legacy and promote Momma’s Baked Goods, ensuring the business remains a family business. Currently, it generates around half a million dollars in revenue, according to Tony Awad, who has chaired the company since 2012.
“In a way, I’m happy that they’re running this business well, and I think the way they’re running it, they’re going to achieve a lot more,” Awad said. “They’re going to achieve a lot more expansion not only here in Florida, but also to be able to sell across the United States, and even South America.”
When Awad started making the desserts, Florida’s Hispanic population hadn’t yet reached the levels it is today, the businesswoman recalls. However, she said she was determined to find a niche within the industry and start her own business.
“I always thought I would carry on even if a year was a bit low, it didn’t matter because I always thought I was going to achieve more. I never thought it wouldn’t. wasn’t going to go well for me… no no, I always thought I was going to continue,” Awad said.
Drawing on decades of accumulated experience in the business industry, Awad advises new entrepreneurs and anyone who has ventured into the world of entrepreneurship to be consistent.
“If you have an idea to do something, do it,” she concluded. “You have to take risks.”