By Kimberly D. Nettles-Barcelón
Kika’s Treats is a wholesale and online store specializing in Brazilian-influenced chocolate covered cookies, caramels, and cheese bread (known as pão de queijo). The owner/creator is Cristina Arantes, a Brazilian-born woman who moved to the Bay Area in 1999.
I spoke with Cristina about her business Kika’s Treats because of my interest in gathering narratives of women food entrepreneurs who enter into food work as second careers, or what I’m phrasing “cooking up a second act.” I sat with Cristina in her bright and airy workspace in the American Industrial Center building in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco to talk about her transition from working as an economist in the finance industry in São Paulo to becoming a food entrepreneur in the U.S.
What work did you do before becoming a baker and entrepreneur?
I grew up in São Paulo, Brazil. I studied economics and then did a shortened version of an MBA with a focus on marketing. I worked for 10 years in the private sector, mostly multinationals and a couple of Brazilian companies. But, I was very unhappy. I didn’t like the whole multi-national corporate way of thinking. In 1998, I started volunteering in the non-profit sector. And then a friend who lived in San Francisco invited me to come over and stay. I decided to quit my job and come to the U.S. on a sabbatical.