How Christina Guidera built a forward-thinking business that marries baking and entrepreneurship . . . .
As the founder and CEO of King Street Baking Co., Pastry Chef Christina Guidera is proud to have structured a baking company around women.
Growing up in New Jersey, Guidera spent countless hours baking with her grandma, a “traditional Italian baker.” Translating her upbringing into a career, Guidera got her start working in cafés in Sydney, Australia, and went on to cut her teeth on pastry stations at Tavern on the Green and Eleven Madison Park, before starting her own project: King Street Baking Co. She began her new venture by offering her colorful baked goods to Black Fox Coffee. From her small SoHo kitchen, she’d bake cookies, gluten-free olive oil bundt cakes, salted caramel slices, and more every day before sunrise. She’d then descend three very steep flights of stairs and load herself into an UberPool with boxes full of confections.
With an increase in demand, Guidera transitioned to a professional kitchen, expanding cautiously until she found herself with a team of 20 cooks, porters, and drivers, the majority of whom are women. Building a supportive company culture, unlike the glaringly toxic kitchens often associated with fine dining, was her primary mission as a business owner. “It was important for me to have a safe space for other chefs,” Guidera says. “It’s hard, especially for women, to plan for longevity in this industry. You should feel good about where you work.”
Guidera brought on her sister, Olivia Guidera, as COO and hired culinary director Sumaiya Bangee to round out her team. They emphasize investing in their staff: “We teach them everything, from prioritizing mental health to self-advocacy. Self-advocacy is super important; you have to fill your plate to feed others,” says Bangee, who leads biweekly team meetings and trains the newest team members one-on-one. “Having an all-women executive team affects our leadership,” Guidera says. “We understand the challenges of managing work with life responsibilities like pregnancy and child care.” Enter: The four-day work week.
“All of our employees were completely on board and excited about the four-day work week,” Guidera says. Longer shifts mean fewer hours spent commuting each week. Every employee gets at least two consecutive days off per week, plus a third day intermittently to enjoy life. “This has really contributed to less call-outs, better retention, and better quality of life for everyone who works for us,” says Guidera. “Through implementing several incentive programs, and an automatic pay up if you’re on time each day, no one comes in earlier than 7:30 am and leaves later than 7:30 pm,” adds Bangee.
King Street sells loose pastries (freshly baked as well as frozen) to cafés, coffee shops, hotels, and restaurants across the tri-state area. Packaged cakes and cookie doughs are sold to grocery and specialty stores, and in 2023, Guidera and her team will be focusing on bringing their line of premium baking mixes to larger retailers.
“We aim to make King Street an inclusive place where everyone can grow in their careers, while also feeling supported in their day-to-day lives,” says Guidera. “As a woman-owned business, it’s really important that all the women at King Street feel as though they can achieve anything, and that they are truly supported in doing so.” – Source: StarChefs.