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December 08
12:52 2018
THE REPORTER: News Staff, - Neighborhood Biz Reports -

Her love for baking from a very young age and her persistence in making her mark as a young business entrepreneur despite all odds, has literally earned Ziollara Martinez 27, owner of Zemar’s Bakery, the title of breadwinner of her family and has led her on a journey of constant growth and success.

From age 7, Martinez started out inside the comfort of her mother’s kitchen, making the family’s Christmas cake using the usual ‘pack-cake’ mix. Over the years she started reading and researching recipes and trying them out. Then when it was time for her to go to university her parents found themselves in a bind and it was a financial strain to send her to school.

But instead of that being the obstacle which would crush her dreams and goals, it brought out the fight in Martinez as she was more determined than ever that she was not going to miss out on her education despite money shortages in the family. She placed her hair in a bun, tied on her apron, jumped behind a bowl and started making her own cakes to sell inside her mother’s snack shop.

Her simple start quickly blossomed in the neighborhood and she went from selling one cake per day to selling two, and before she knew it she was adding jam rolls and cinnamon rolls to her menu.

“I eventually started getting a good response from my customers, so I was able to finish my Sixth Form with the profit from my sales. By that time I was 18 and working at a law firm. I eventually managed to save enough money and I decided that I would quit my job and just go fully into my business,” Martinez recalled.

At age 21, the demand for Martinez’s products soared and she opened up her own bakery on Youth for the Future Drive in Belize City. From there she sold cakes and added Creole bread and bun. Again capitalizing on her profit, she managed to purchase an industrial oven and machinery, and soon there was a need to expand to a bigger location.

After two years, Martinez then moved to her current location near the Pound Yard Bridge and has been there for four years. She has enlisted the assistance of four employees and additional help from her husband.

From there the ‘one-stop bakery’ now offers milk cakes, Creole bread and bun, whole wheat bread, ham and cheese croissants, glazed cinnamon stick bread, waffles, breakfast wraps, sandwiches, pizza, garlic bread, lemon tarts, coconut tarts, powder-buns, cinnamon rolls, bread pudding, plain cake, dinner rolls, hot dogs and many more delicacies.

According to Martinez, on any given day Zemar’s Bakery is accessed by hundreds of commuters and students who take advantage of the great products fresh from the oven and the affordable prices to meet any budget.

The bakery has even moved to meeting the wholesale needs of shops for banana cakes, cinnamon rolls and plain cakes. They are eventually planning to add powder-buns, French bread, and sliced bread to those sales.

Success! But it never came overnight or easy for Martinez, and she says that she has had her fair share of challenges, from being discouraged for being too young to sabotage by other businesses, unreliable employees, problematic customers, sleepless nights, long shifts and many sacrifices.

But looking back at it all, there is one piece of advice she wanted to leave with aspiring young Belizeans – “something very important to note is that you must be focused. Focus on what you want. You just have to have that mindset that you need to pursue your goals and accomplish them. You just can’t start and stop halfway. Once you start, just continue pushing. Never think that you are too young to start your own business. It is actually better that you start when you are young!”

The mother of a newborn baby and a three-year-old son says that she could never accomplished her dream without the assistance of her mother and husband. She says that for the first six months, she did not make any profit but her mother stuck by her side with words of encouragement.

Zemar’s Bakery has once again outgrown its current location and Martinez is looking to relocate soon. The company is also working on creating a brand and logo for their products. The Reporter encourages anyone who hasn’t tried out her products to do so.

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