We had the good fortune of connecting with Daniela Varela and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Daniela, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
I think the most important lesson my business/career has taught me is that even if you’re not an expert you need to start. I believe that most of us think we can’t start a business until we have money, until we perfect our craft or product but truth is you need to start now, there is no better time and time can’t be wasted. Starting your career and business before you think you’re ready will teach you so much about what you’re doing, Trial and errors are the best way to perfect what you do. Also the ability to keep going forward even in the most difficult time as a business owner, because at the end of the day it is about how well you can walk through fire, and I promise it will be worth all the sweat and tears.
What should our readers know about your business?
I own Ruby’s Bagels located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We are a latina/women own Bagel Pop Up. I started Ruby’s Bagels back in 2019, since then I’ve been doing pop-ups inside Zocalo Food Truck Park. Our specialty are fresh boiled and baked bagels. I taught myself back in 2017 how to make bagels, I spent a whole year perfecting the recipe until I told myself I was ready to start selling my bagels. It was challenging to find commercial kitchens here in Milwaukee that would let me rent their space for a few hours a month. It wasn’t until January 2019 I finally found a commercial kitchen, I started to do pop ups at local makers markets and coffee shops. A few months after I was approached by a food park truck and I decided to join them and become their permanent Pop Up. The first year was very difficult, I did not come from a entrepreneur background so I wasn’t sure how to manage the business financials, I didn’t have much money saved up, I had no idea what insurances and permits I needed. The first few months of being in the food truck park were the most difficult, I thought about quitting every single day because for a few months, I only made enough money to pay my employees, pay my business bills/inventory and that was it. I was over staffed and I had no idea how to manage the financial of a business.I had no money for food, clothes or to pay my own house rent. I left my great ICU job to dedicate my life to Ruby’s Bagels and I thought I had made a mistake, but thanks to my support system, all the encouraging messages from my parents, friends and Michael I kept going. I asked for help and asked so many questions to whoever I could about how to run a food business. 2020 finally came around, I and I was finally able to say that I was so glad I did not give up that year. I kept pushing and learning so much and it made it all worth it. I want every little girl our there know that you can be whoever you want to be, it won’t be a walk in the park but it will be worth it when you look back at what seemed to be like chaos it will be something magical. I would love to learn as much as I can about running a food business to one day be able to help others who are in the position I was once in. I am barely two years in, and my dream of owning a bagel shop is still there, that is what we are working for at the moment. Dedication and determination is what is on my radar until we get there. If there is one thing to take from this is; DO NOT GIVE UP
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First thing first, Ruby’s Bagels for a fresh bagels and coffee. Then we would head over to the lake for a nice walk. After that visit Milwaukee Museum to see the Old Milwaukee Exhibit and to the butterfly room. For lunch we would go to Twisted Plants for a great vegan burger with waffle fries. We would also go for a nice bike ride by the lake, then after go get ice cream in Walkers Point called Purple Door. After we are all refreshed and out of our biking gear, we would go get some drinks at Tin Widow and then check out a few breweries like Good City Brewery and Hacienda. We would be all over Milwaukee, focusing more in Walkers Point and Bay View. Lots of great coffee shops and restaurants, we could got to Sorella or Santinos for pizza and drinks. I would call a little group get together Michael (Grammy award winning producer), Mikel (owner of 414Loral ) her fiancé, and I to get fun drinks at At Random, their key lime shakes are delicious.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shout out a few people, first off Michael Cerda – without him I don’t think I would of had drive to start this business when this bagel business idea was just a thought, he believed in me when I didn’t think I could pull this off. He was always there to remind that I couldn’t give up on my dream when things got hard because at the end everything would be alright, and he was right about that. Secondly my family – there is nothing greater than being able to hire your mom and aunts. Thirdly Mikel from 414Loral, an amazing friendship to have – she is another small business owner who I connect with and share thoughts and information with and that I can relate to even though we are in two different industries. And lastly, Athena – I met Athena las year during the pandemic and she has been such a great resource and mentor. I am so grateful for all the wonderful people in my life that believe in me. As a business owner, first generation to immigrant parents I am so proud of myself for where I have been able to take my business, but I don’t think I would be here without my support system that fuel me up when I start doubting myself. Ruby’s Bagels is owned by me but is lifted up high by such wonderful people in my life.
Karen O photography