San Jacinto mother turns baking into a full-time gig

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Michelle Romero preps for Valentine’s Day with one of her biggest sellers, a chocolate heel with strawberries. Valley News/Courtesy photo

San Jacinto mother Michelle Romero said she started making cakes and sweets for her husband and children before jumping into baking as a business.

“I was originally from San Diego and we moved up to the Inland Empire, and I basically had to be a stay-at-home mom,” Romero said. “We had no friends or family up here and so most of our gatherings was myself, my husband and the kids, so I started making my kids’ cakes here and there, and then it just took off from there.”

Romero is self-taught, with some help from YouTube.

“I originally started with box mix – cupcakes, cakes, and eventually I started making them a little bit better looking,” she said.

Romero said she prefers to make cakes, but she also offers cookies, cupcakes and cake pops. During the holidays, she makes chocolate heels with strawberries.

Her business, Shelly’s Confections, came about from a friend.

“Since high school I got coined ‘Shelly’ from my best friend, and it just stuck,” she said. “I didn’t want to put my actual name on it, and felt Shelly’s Confections just clicked better.”

In 2019, Romero took orders mostly through word-of-mouth.

“I’m a surrogate, so for me that’s my No. 1 thing and I really concentrated on that,” she said.

Romero works out of her home.

“I do try to work deliveries in and try to make it accessible to as many people as possible,” she said.

For the most part, she said people usually already know what they want before coming to her.

“I usually tell them if it’s doable, especially if it’s last minute,” Romero said. “A lot of things you may have to order online ahead of time or go out and search for, but I try to accommodate them as much as possible.”

The hardest cake Romero said she has done was from the video game, “Fortnite,” a cake she made for her son’s birthday.

“I ended up making him a 3D llama cake from “Fortnite.” Luckily, I was able to accomplish it, it was a two-day turnover from when I started making it to the actual party,” she said.

Tanya Callihan is a repeat customer and has ordered five cakes from Romero so far, along with several cupcakes and hot chocolate milk bombs, something that Romero came across one day on Instagram and learned how to make.

“The milk bombs where you pour hot milk over them and they explode, and it has hot cocoa with marshmallows inside is really cool,” Callihan said.

She’s ordered cakes for her children’s birthdays as well as her own.

“She’s the only person I go to,” she said.

“From the first cake, she had me hooked,” Callihan said. “It was for my daughter, and it was strawberry and chocolate with vanilla inside.”

Callihan recommended anyone who needs a cake in Inland Valley to go see Romero.

“I’ve given her two-day’s notice before, and she said no problem,” Callihan said. “She did it, and it turned out awesome.”

Romero thinks of her work as a family-owned business.

“It’s nicer to order from small businesses because that money goes back into the home as opposed to corporations and stuff like that,” Romero said.

Romero and her husband have talked about possibly opening a shop in the future.

“He’s always mentioning that everybody loves my work and that I should think about opening one up, so I’m exploring that as far as it being a possibility over the next few years,” she said.

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at valleystaff@reedermedia.com.