Career 180: For the love of baking
Dana Loia owns Dana's Bakery, which specializes in gluten-free French macarons in American flavors. But before her career was about what's on plates, it was focused on what was in the pictures at Muscle & Fitness magazine, where she was the photo director. She worked in photography for 12 years before enrolling in culinary school.
While Loia, 31, is planning to open a shop in Manhattan, her macarons are currently sold in more than 50 locations around the U.S. in addition to the online store. She lives on the east side with her fiancée.
Why did you switch careers?
I was happy where I was, but something was missing. I always loved to bake and I thought, how come I can't do this for living? I've always loved macarons and I know that they were always big in New York ... I wanted to put an American spin on the classic French pastry.
What are some pros and cons of your new job?
Pros, I get to be creative and meet amazing people every day and I get to do these really great projects, everything I do makes people happy. ... I would say that the con ... being a business owner, you can say goodbye to eight hours of sleep.
How hard was it to learn how to bake macarons?
Macarons are actually very difficult to make. Even catering companies get their macarons from us ... because it's a 14-step process, they're very delicate ... it's one of these things where [macarons] demand to be respected and I love the challenge and now I really think that we've mastered it. And now we do one thing but we do it well.
What is your favorite flavor?
The fruity cereal birthday cake because it has edible glitter on it, and then I always love the flavor of the month.
Are you happy with your career switch?
I could not be happier. Everything just kind of fell together, it's like I'm finally doing what I was meant to do.
Looking back, do you wish you had gone into this originally?
I think that it was important to have the skill set that I now have from my previous career, everything [was] visual so it really helped when it came to designing my packaging, my logo, the website. ... Also the macarons, the colors, they're visually very appealing.
Do you have any advice for readers who are considering a career 180?
My one pearl of wisdom would really be, if you're going to do it, do it 100%. If you're going to leave a career and start a new one, it takes 100% of your time and your dedication.