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Life & Work with Zakiya Newton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Zakiya Newton.

Hi Zakiya, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
As early as the age of five, I remember joining my parents in the kitchen to help cook large family dinners and on other special occasions. When I was 12, my mom enrolled me in a cooking summer camp in Winter Park. We learned simple things like how to make croutons, pasta, pasta sauce, and desserts. I fell in love with that cooking camp and wanted to go back every summer.

Although I was still very young, I realized cooking was something I would want to do for the rest of my life. As I got older, I began to focus more on desserts and different pastries. My mom then began to search for culinary schools that offered a Baking and Pastry program.

By the time I was a junior in high school, I had made up my mind that I wanted to pursue my dream to be a Pastry Chef. I applied to several culinary schools and was elated when I was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America, the world’s premier culinary college. At the Culinary Institute of America, I studied Baking and Pastry Arts and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Baking and Pastry Arts Management. With my degree in hand, I honed my baking and pastry skills at several upscale and boutique restaurants in Miami which is where I met my husband. Eventually, my husband and I became pregnant and made the decision to relocate to Orlando, which is where I am originally from. Once moving to Orlando, I focused on building my home-based business all while pregnant. After giving birth to my son, just ten months later we found out we were expecting another bundle of joy right in the middle of the pandemic. Although the pandemic has been a difficult time for all, it has really helped small businesses like mine do well. I look forward to building my clientele and growing my business.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My biggest challenge throughout my entire pastry career would be balancing my home-based business and also caring for two babies under the age of two. It is definitely a new challenge every day when having two young children on top of completing my orders. My sons are very active, so on top of keeping them busy and my baking; it can be a handful. Although it is a challenge, I always complete my orders and always have satisfied customers. I constantly get asked, “How do I do it.” Sometimes I wonder that myself.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Celestial Sweets by Kia creates custom desserts and pastries for any occasion.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
While working in Miami for a catering company, I had the opportunity to cater a wedding for guests that included A-list celebrities such as the Kardashians and Gabrielle Union.

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