Our Story

written by Carlo Carlos

After graduating high school, I underwent the usual dilemma of teenagers; uncertain of which path to take in college. Mine was worse as I practically had no idea what career to pursue! Coming from a family of doctors, every- one was expecting me to follow my dad’s footsteps as an established Neuro-radiologist. Little did they know that Medicine was the least of my options because I had a very weak stomach and a huge fear of blood.

Clueless as I was, I eventually heeded a tito’s insistent advice and took up Business Administration in UST. After 2 and a half years there, I got kicked out. There I was, back in the state of cluelessness. I guess, it just wasn’t meant for me then. Luckily, one of my cousins, who happened to be my all-time car-buddy, noticed my inclination in buying and selling car parts and accessories.

He encouraged me to take a crack at Entrepreneurial Management in the University of Asia and the Pacific, his alma mater. And so, I gave it a shot.

I put up Lia’s Cakes in Season during my junior year in EM as my New Business Venture thesis. During NBV 2, my mentor Mr. Larry Guevarra, scheduled to meet for the first time. I presented a pizza/empanada business before NBV2 of which, sir Larry was one of the mentors in the panel; he didn’t like it. Great.

We met at PICC where we sat in a dark corner face to face. He then bluntly told me “Carlo, your business is no good. Change it.” I wasn’t shocked on how he didn’t like my concept but more on the way he was frank about it. I was speechless!

We then brainstormed on possible business concepts and when he asked me what my family has that was unique? I thought about it for several seconds, reminiscing family get-togethers, birthday parties, and blurted out “My lola’s avocado cake!” Like a proud father to his son, sir Larry said, “THAT will be your concept.” It was my late lola Pi who invented the Avocado Cake, but was perfected by my mom, Lia.

It started from there and the whole “fruits-to-cakes-in-season” concept came to mind. Since I had no knowledge in baking, I had my mom, who had been baking as early as the age of 10, help me conceptualize and create unique cakes. I came from a family of food-lovers and they made product development a breeze. They would always look forward to my samples every Saturday night during family dinners at my lola’s house. I remember myself listening intently to their reactions as we gather for dessert and coffee.

I named the business after my mom, Lia, as the author of the distinctive line of cakes and pastries that I have now. Lia’s Cakes in Season opened its doors to the public on November of 2004.

It was the perfect time since Christmas was about a month away. I had 2 junior bakers and added another one come December. The volume of orders was overwhelming! There even were a couple of days when we had to close the store early as we didn’t have any products on display!

Introduction of the Avocado Cake, as our signature product, brought both pride and struggle. Being an unusual dessert, one would never imagine avocado as a cake! We encountered a lot of resistance. Some may have second thoughts at first but would eventually try it for themselves.

It started with a few and has now grown to a market who shares the same pride that originated from my family. It is very heartwarming to see people proud to bring a box of Avocado Cake during special occasions with the intent to present something different apart from the things we normally are familiar with.

The business is not perfect, I must admit. I still have a lot of areas of improvement. The biggest challenge would probably be inventory control since I use fresh fruits as my raw material and have short shelf lives. As much as I want to push sales, I also need to take into consideration the schedule of production to ensure the freshness of my products. It has always been our utmost concern to serve each and every patron who comes to our stores expecting something extraordinary. We always strive to attain the optimum balance of our sales and production to ensure customer satisfaction.

Going on 14 years into the business, running it is still an ongoing endeavor. This rollercoaster ride has led to a lot of ups and downs. And I know it won’t be over soon. There will be more to come that may put the heart of the business to the test. Nevertheless, I draw strength from believing that I have the right concept and I will stick to it whilst keeping an open mind. It will be physically, mentally and emotionally draining but, hey, like what a wise man from school once said, “Pressure is the law of progress.”