is the owner of BabyCakesbyErika, a custom diaper cake business she started three years ago after being inspired by a family friend who designed diaper cakes. As a wife and mother with a large extended family, Ms. Levine-Irigoyen has studied cake decorating (the edible kind), much to the delight of her family and friends. Her artistic talents also included ballet – she performed a duet with the author of Mom’s New Stage in middle school. Ms. Levine-Irigoyen’s left brain accomplishments include a Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science from Wayne State University and a Masters Degree from SUNY Downstate-Brooklyn in Occupational Therapy. Currently, she lives in Forest Hills, NY with her husband and son. A pediatric OT for the New York City Department of Education, she works with children from kindergarten through eighth grade to improve their student functioning.
You have a son, I believe. How old is he?
I have one almost 6 year old son named Aidan.
Where were you in your career when your son was born?
I was almost 35 when Aidan was born, so, thankfully, my career was all set by that time. I was in my second year as an Occupational Therapist working at the Veterans Administration Hospital in New York City.
Tell us a little of the why and how of starting BabyCakes By Erika.
Believe it or not, I was inspired by my husband’s ex-wife, who is my friend. I went to my step-daughter’s baby shower and she had made one for her. I had never seen one before and was in total awe, so I asked her to help me make my first one. Graciously, she agreed, and I made my first one for a friend’s baby shower in 2009. It’s given me such a wonderful creative outlet and it makes me feel good to create something special for a mom in the most beautiful time in her life.
Where do you see your custom diaper cake business in five years?
In five years, I hope to see my business a bit busier. 2-3 cakes a month would be perfect.
Naturally, someone coming to you wants a super unique diaper cake! What inspires you in your designs?
Many times, the client will want a certain theme such as a ballerina diaper cake or a cake for a mom who listens to country music. Once I know the theme, I just let the artistic juices flow! Other times, I will help them come up with ideas by asking them what the sex of the baby is or what the interests of the mother are.
What are your strategies for finding balance between work time, family time and personal time?
Granted, I don’t have two or three kids, but my strategies are pretty straightforward. I made it a goal to simplify my life. I transferred from a job in Manhattan to one closer to home in order to be nearer to my son’s school. Deciding to work for the Department of Ed has given me the same schedule as my son, so I’m not scrambling for daycare during school vacations.
Oh, and did I mention his grandmother lives a block from his school? Instant family time! I also don’t over schedule him with activities during the week. This way he can also have some downtime to just play in the park. Real family time is on the weekend, of course, and my husband and I are good about giving each other personal time when we want it. No guilt in that department. Life is good.
Describe your mothering style in five words or less.
Everything in moderation!
Advice for entrepreneur moms?
Motherhood has provided me with the most rewarding moments of my life and I wouldn’t trade my role for anything in the world, but it didn’t take long to get completely immersed in it. I started feeling worried about losing the sense of who I was or what my interests were. The advice I would give mom entrepreneurs is to not feel guilty about giving some time to yourself once in a while. Reignite that woman you were before you became a mother! Take advantage of the invite to go out to dinner with your girlfriends, sign up for that pottery class, or just hit the gym. Make it happen -- you deserve it and you’ll appreciate your kids and hubby when you get home.
To view cakes or place an order, visit BabyCakesbyErika.
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