We are excited to have students share their stories of innovative projects and entrepreneurial endeavors! If you'd like to contribute a story for our Spotlight, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gabriella Montesino '21
Gabriella Montesino '21 is a business management major with a minor in Spanish, and the founder of Good Eats with Gab. From her platform on Instagram (@goodeatswithgab), she accepts custom orders for cakes, cookies, and other baked goods for local businesses, events, parties, and holidays. In this interview, Gabby discusses her Loyola experience and her passion for innovation.
How did you get your idea or concept for Good Eats with Gab?
I have always enjoyed both food and photography, so I started my Instagram account in October of 2016 as a place to showcase the food and baked goods I was making. I also post food from restaurants I visit, and because of this my followers have shared that they get ideas for places they want to dine in the future.
As a business owner, what are your future aspirations for Good Eats with Gab?
This business has made me realize my love and passion for experimenting with food and different cuisines, and I therefore decided to go to culinary school after completing my Bachelor of Business Administration here at Loyola. My ultimate goal is to own my own restaurant.
What have you learned about entrepreneurship and innovation through Good Eats with Gab?
I have to be entrepreneurial to get the word out about custom cake orders. I utilize my Instagram account as a form of advertisement, but I also post on various town Facebook pages in order to reach as many people as possible. I would say I'm innovative in a creative sense because I like to stay up to date with current trends and am always looking for new ways to improve my baking and decorating.
How has Loyola been able to provide opportunities in your business venture?
Loyola has provided me with the courses I need in order to understand the power of networking and social media. These two things are the reason I am where I am with the business, which is being able to do something I love while also having a part-time, paying job on my own schedule. The business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi, that I rushed at Loyola has helped me throughout this journey as well. The fraternity has helped me to step out of my comfort zone and explore business in a new way. Alpha Kappa Psi puts a lot of emphasis on networking, and I used those skills this summer, which led me to a job at a bakery. I was their main cake and cupcake decorator, and I was able to practice and master an abundance of new, advanced skills because of that opportunity. Back at Loyola this semester, I am continuing to explore business through my studies, and how it can help me as a baker.
McKenna Moors '21
McKenna Moors '22 is a marketing major and an innovation and entrepreneurship minor. McKenna's business, McKenna's Kupcakes, is one of eight chosen as part of Loyola's inaugural Baltipreneurs Accelerator Program. She is excited to expand her business into the Baltimore market and is well on her way to becoming a successful entrepreneur.
McKenna's Kupcakes specializes in making mini cupcakes of all types of varieties and flavors with her signature frosting. Everything is baked from scratch while using only the freshest and highest quality ingredients available. The mini cupcake choice is her favorite because it allows her customers to enjoy all different flavors as opposed to just one flavor of a large cupcake (although she does bake those too). Some of McKenna's Kupcakes most popular flavors are Oreo Cookie, Salted Caramel Chocolate, Maple Bacon, Coconut Cream, Peanut Butter Cup, and Lemon Blueberry Parfait.
How did you get your idea or concept for McKenna's Kupcakes?
I grew up in a household of cooks; my parents love to cook. My mom has a passion for baking, as well as my grandmother who owned her own restaurant and bakery for many years. On the weekends while growing up, I would spend time helping my parents cook and bake. In sixth grade, I had to do a project titled: "what you want to do when you grow up." I knew instantly that I wanted to do my project on baking, but it was an oral report and I am shy. I dreaded doing the report in front of all of my classmates, so I decided to bring in cupcakes as part of my report thinking that if I failed during my presentation, at least they would have my yummy cupcakes to eat! I brought in a variety of flavors for the students to try. One of my teachers loved my cupcakes and ordered them for a party she was having at her house later that month. From that very moment, McKenna's Kupcakes was born. My first customers were from my school community: teachers, the principal, and parents who knew I baked and had tried my cupcakes. From there, it really began to grow within my community. A local restaurant asked to feature my cupcakes on their dessert menu, and they began referring me for weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, and other types of private events. There would be weekends where I had to bake over 500 cupcakes at a time, and I loved every minute of it.
How has innovation and entrepreneurship helped you?
This endeavor has allowed me to transcend my creative boundaries and to enhance my thinking, planning, and organizational skills. I have learned valuable lessons in marketing—my desired field of study—as well as honed the necessary communication skills required to grow and develop my business platform. Just the thought of being able to bring my cupcakes to this community is so exciting to me.
How has Loyola been able to provide opportunities in McKenna's Kupcakes?
Loyola presents itself to my business as an entirely untapped target market. Since I was primarily based out of Uxbridge, Mass., Loyola appeared to be the perfect place for me to expand my business. Parents looking to send their children something for their birthday? Office workers looking to celebrate a milestone? McKenna's Kupcakes can deliver fresh, homemade cupcakes right to your door! Being accepted into the accelerator is giving me the structure and guidance I need to successfully expand in the Baltimore area. I will also gain valuable advice from my peers in the cohort as well—broadening my thinking by hearing about the experiences of the other members.
What are your future aspirations and missions for McKenna's Kupcakes?
My short-term goals consist of establishing a social media presence in the Loyola community, specifically on Instagram, in order to build brand awareness and recognition. I look to be receiving and fulfilling orders into the second semester after break. My ultimate long-term goal is to expand my catering business by opening up a storefront for my bakery.
Here are links to my Instagram and Facebook pages:
Rachel Jarman '21
Rachel Jarman '21 is an engineering major with concentrations in mechanical and materials engineering, and co-founder of Robot Roadtrip. Rachel, along with co-founder Angela Cottini, creates volunteer-based programs centered around encouraging young Baltimore students to explore STEM careers, as well as teaching important life skills. In this interview, Rachel describes how she chose to use her passions for STEM to make an impact in Baltimore and embrace Loyola's Jesuit values.
How did you get your concept for Robot Roadtrip?
At the end of freshman year, I was giving a robotics club demonstration/presentation to the department chairs and deans when Dean Smith from the School of Education asked, "What do you do when you are not using the space [in the library] or materials?" I was not prepared for that question, but I started thinking over that summer what could the robotics club do to make an impact, to embrace our Jesuit values? I brainstormed all summer and by mid-July I had written a proposal for an after school program that teaches young students from Baltimore. From that point on, I started working on Robot Roadtrip. The goal of Robot Roadtrip is to encourage kids to explore STEM careers, teach them basic life skills that can be implemented in any field they choose, and generally show support for the kids.
How has Loyola been able to provide opportunities in your social venture?
Over the past year or so a lot of changes have occurred in Robot Roadtrip. The first main change actually became due to Loyola's Career Accelerator program. It was at the program where I met Angela Cottini! We hit it off and I convinced her to join the robotics club and eventually help co-found Robot Roadtrip. Together we were able to get the program implemented in local schools such as Tunbridge Elementary. We renewed our partnership with Tunbridge this year and we are looking forward to going back again! Together we also competed in the Loyola Building a Better World Through Business pitch competition last spring. We placed 2nd and are planning on competing again this spring. Loyola has given Angela and me a huge platform to promote Robot Roadtrip and has truly given every tool possible for us to succeed. Without the pre-fall programs where we can meet like-minded people, or hone our skills; without the opportunities like the pitch competition or connections we have made through Loyola, our program would not have grown to what it is, or what we plan on doing with it.
What role does partnership play in your venture?
Angela and I have very different majors but we both have the same drive and passion to make a difference in our community. Due to that burning desire to make an impact we decided that helping just one school is not enough, unfortunately we both have highly demanding majors which cuts into our time. In order to combat that problem, we came up with the idea of starting a camp. We are in the process of finalizing the proposal and schedule for the day camp and we are working towards expanding our teaching material to include basic business concepts along with the team building, time management, and of course, engineering skills we already cover.
We look forward to this upcoming year with Robot Roadtrip and we are always looking for volunteers to help attend the weekly trips, and for camp counselors. If interested in helping or joining our causes, please contact me or Angela:
Thank you so much.