CLIFTON, N.J. – After 18 years improving people's vision, Regina Heredia is fulfilling a dream and helping people get creative with cakes, at her new cake shop in Clifton.
She opened Pink Petal Cakes on Main Avenue in early January, and it's already getting rave reviews. Its Facebook page has 26 reviews so far – and a perfect five-out-of-five-stars score.
"It is what I thought it would be: very demanding," the Paterson resident told Daily Voice. With five kids and now four grandkids, that's nothing particularly new.
Heredia makes cupcakes, cake pops and detailed custom cakes for weddings, birthdays and other events, but her shop also features a case of ready-to-go items, including a variety of pastries, slices of cake and whole cakes.
She had long thought she wanted to own a shop of some sort, but with kids to raise, the first phase of her career instead involved working for others, making glasses. She began as a lab tech, cutting and fitting lenses for glasses, then was a manager of the optics lab and store.
Almost on a whim, she took a three-week cake-making course – and she got hooked.
Heredia spent the next 14 years honing her skills, to the benefit of friends and family. Recently, she got a professional certification in "sugar arts," working with renowned Chef Nicholas Lodge at his school near Atlanta.
She had contemplated opening a store in Georgia, but things fell into line here. George Chipoco was looking for a business to invest in and heard about her plans. He helped with building and financing, and she's the active owner.
"I'm always here," she said.
Heredia collaborates with customers to design cakes and other treats to specifically fit their needs. But wedding cakes are her favorite.
And they're detailed. The process to make a single sugar flower can extend over the course of a day. Some are even on wires and have to dry overnight.
One of her popular wedding cakes is brandy-flavored with ganache: "People love it," she added.
She was born in Puerto Rico – coming to the U.S. mainland when she was 5 and attending school in south Jersey – and some of those traditions shine through, like simple syrups on the cakes, helping to ensure their moistness.
Two items you're likely to find are quesitos, cheese-filled puff pastries that resemble a Danish, and tres leches, a very light and airy cake that's her most popular. Heredia explained that her version is more Caribbean, with cinnamon and almonds, compared to South American ones.
It's not too sweet and made with high-end ingredients like imported Italian flour.
"High-quality ingredients make the cake," Heredia said. "And everything is made in small batches." There are no mixes, no shortcuts.
Some of her departures from more traditional Puerto Rican items are based on her own personal tastes, like using buttercream frosting. The shop's offerings are also flexible, and she plans to integrate customers' tastes, as well.
Heredia hopes to spread the word, so more people come out and try her lovingly-made treats.
Pink Petal Cakes is located at 1197 Main Ave. It's open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. For more information about the shop, visit its website or Facebook page.