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the fresno bee BUSINESS sunday, november 17, 2013



& A

Crme de la Cake
Crme de la Cake
Owners: Liz Roberto Founded: 2006 Location: 2025 W. Bullard Ave., Fresno Phone: (559) 431-1343 Employees: 2 Annual sales: $70,000 Online: cremecake. com must meet the following criteria: Be locally owned. Been in business for at least a year. Have fewer than 50 employees. Provide an annual sales figure for publication and be willing to answer other questions. Email suggestions to business@fresnobee.com (put Small business profile in the subject line). For more Valley business news, dont miss Word on the Street in Monday Business.
on that table because its tradition; it becomes the focal point of the event. What are your biggest rewards? Liz: When they either pick up the cake and to be able to see the look on their face that I turned their vision into a reality or when I deliver. A lot of the times Ill get emails or phone calls saying how great everything was, then I sit back and Im like: Thats why I do it. A lot of times they (brides) come back to me when theyre pregnant and ready to have their baby

By Diana Aguilera
The Fresno Bee

iz Roberto went away to learn how to bake right and then came home to open her own wedding cake shop, Crme de la Cake, promising customers that her cakes will always be made from scratch. Whats the nature of your business? Liz: We specialize in custom wedding cakes and special occasions cakes. We also do cupcakes, cake pops, dessert tables, and were going to start doing scones and zucchini bread and persimmon bread for the holidays. Whats the history of your business? Liz: I got my bachelors degree in graphic design from Fresno State and worked in that field for about 15 years. Then I was just kind of ready for a change. I picked up and moved up to Napa Valley and went to the Culinary Institute of America for the baking and pastry class. When I finished the program, the chef instructor that taught the wedding cake portion hired me at her shop. After a couple years


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there I moved back home and opened my own shop. What is your philosophy on customer service? Liz: The customer is always right. Its their big day so they should have what they want. I really want my couples to feel part of the process. Its a very collaborative effort anytime we design a cake: I need to know the party details, what the decor is, because everything should complement everything else especially the cake. Cakes ref lect the couples personality and style, and so its not just a cake to put


Liz Roberto, owner of Crme de la Cake in northwest Fresno, displays some sweet treats.
shower. Then when their baby turns 1 I get to do their cakes. I have a lot of couples like that, Ive known over the years, that every year they come back. Whats your favorite type of cake to make? Liz: Its fun to do sculpted cakes; theyre dif ferent every time. But honestly when Im working on a little girls princess cake and its just pretty and it has f lowers, thats my favorite. I just like working on pretty cakes, but I enjoy working on all dif ferent types of cake. The most popular of the sculpted cakes is the Jack and Coke; its a Jack Daniels bottle and a Coke bottle. What are your biggest challenges? Liz: Trying to grow the business but maintain the quality at the same time because I have really high standards. Im really picky about everything, from my ingredients to the final product.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6659, daguilera@fresnobee.com or @DianaT_Aguilera on Twitter.

Continued from C1 dollar stores new customers, especially those wanting groceries. The product line of these stores has changed dramatically and one of the biggest changes is the addition of food, Davidowitz said. Right now, people are going to these stores for their needs more than their wants. The wants are over and the necessity is food. Dollar General, the largest dollar store chain with 11,000 stores, rolled out a new concept several years ago with its Dollar General Market. The new store is part supermarket, part retail store, and of fers a wide assortment of grocery items, including fresh produce, meat and canned goods. The Tennessee-based chain opened a market store in Fresno and another in Clovis. Both stores went into former Save Mart buildings and have been embraced by consumers, store officials say.

Dollar stores, such as this one at Fruit and McKinley, have boomed as the economy has hurt many customers.


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By Stan Choe
Associated Press

Jennifer Boyd of Fresno is a frequent dollar store shopper. She says that dollar stores provide convenience and value, especially for families like hers that are on a fixed income. Boyd has become a frequent customer of the Dollar General Market at McKinley and Fruit avenues in central Fresno. It really helps families stretch their dollars, Boyd said. And they have almost everything I need, so I

dont even have to go to a large grocery store anymore. Boyd said she isnt surprised to see more dollar stores coming to Fresno. They are convenient, they are affordable, and they have what people are looking for, Boyd said. If you ask me, I would like to see more stores.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6327, brodriguez@fresnobee.com or @FresnoBeeBob on Twitter.

structural improvement, which is what we need. Sinaloa has been Mexicos principal provider of vegetables for more than a century, of fering such crops as bell peppers, squash and eggplant in addition to tomatoes. That has given the growers enormous political clout in Mexico City. When the federal government recently announced plans to raise taxes on farmers (who benefit from multiple exemptions) as part of a wider fiscal overhaul, the governor of the state, Manuel Lopez Valdez, traveled to the nations capital to personally lobby top lawmakers. The result: Agriculture was one of the few industries spared a full tax hike. Growers thanked the governor with full-page ads in local newspapers. Output! Output! is what Ines Gomez says the foremen in the fields continually shout at the pickers and planters. They have production quotas to meet, a certain number of crates or bags per section of crop, depending on the vegetable. Gomez, 32, spent the other day weeding tomato patches, as she has done since she was 10. Every six months or so she returns home to the troubled state of Guerrero, devastated recently by f looding. With what we earn, we cannot make ends meet, she said, listing such hardships as having to provide her own water to drink and eating meals of tortilla with tomatoes that have fallen to the ground and are rotting. Yet she returns every year and has done so for 22 years. It is necessity, she said.

Continued from C1 dont, we have nothing. The two women live in tinroofed adobe shacks set behind chain-link fences. Conditions, the women said, have changed little over the years. They have electricity but no running water; some f loors are tiled, others are dirt. The 50 or so families living in this compound under billboards for DuPont Chemicals Agriseeds and Gruindag triple-action insecticides share open-air toilets and showers. Known as jornaleros literally day laborers they are mostly from indigenous, rural communities. Most speak little Spanish. Recruited in their hometowns and loaded onto buses for 30-hour drives to Sinaloa, many recent arrivals say they feel deceived about the conditions, opportunities and pay that awaited them. Once in Sinaloa, they say, they feel trapped housed in fenced compounds far from actual towns with movement restricted for what owners say are security reasons. Many say the farmers refuse to pay them until the end of the season, obliging them to stick it out; in the meantime, they buy tortillas, cooking oil and other supplies on credit from small stores owned by their employers. They know their rights but cant talk about it: Theyd be out of a job the next day, said Cresencio Ramirez, 32, a Triqui Indian from Oaxaca who managed to alternate picking tomatoes and jalapeno peppers with schooling, eventually earning a law degree. As a member of the Democratic Network of Indigenous Pueblos, he is allowed to visit farmworkers but, he

says, is restricted in what he may talk about. Labor law is not on the approved list. They have no freedom of choice to come and go from the farm, change jobs or speak out about it, he added. Farm owners counter that they have made steady improvements. In the last couple of decades, they say, workers increasingly bring their entire families; even mayors join the exodus to the fields. Although most laborers return to their hometowns at the end of the season, which tends to extend from the Day of the Dead in November to Holy Week before Easter, more have begun to settle permanently in Sinaloa in places such as Villa Juarez, now in essence a roadside slum with slightly steadier housing and about 20,000 residents. By law, the growers are now required to provide schools, nurseries and health care for the estimated 150,000 jornaleros (down from 250,000 25 years ago) and allow inspections by social workers. The social workers, however, are usually on the farm owners payroll. By most accounts, child labor has lessened, with fewer minors younger than 14 found working in the fields. A decade or so ago, roughly 30% of fieldhands were children. Today the portion is about 15%, with more kids having at least finished elementary school, said Teresa Guerra, a Culiacan-based labor law specialist. Some growers now provide school rooms with computers and Skype; others still of fer ragged homes without f loors or windows. The farmer wants his employees to return. He treats them well so that they will retur n, and

theres a high percentage of that, said Mario Robles, head of the vegetable commission of Sinaloas largest and oldest agricultural association, representing hundreds of owners. Some farming companies are in better economic shape than others and so their installations are better than others, Robles added. But all have at least basic facilities. More up-to-date operations tend to be run by older, traditional local families, many descendants of Greek immigrants who arrived in the early 1900s, and have huge landholdings. They may also be better able, locals say, to resist pressure from Sinaloas powerful drug traf fickers, who have been known to use agricultural enterprises to launder money. Farmers have to compete in the world market, and the better ones have benefited from advancing technology. Guerra said many improvements have been brought about by international pressure and threats of boycotts from abroad if Mexican producers did not create a cleaner, more humane workplace. At the same time, wages remain low. What hasnt changed is the basic precariousness of the work, she said. The circle of poverty and lack of education has not been broken. The child of a jornalero will be a jornalero. Beatriz Cota, who heads the social work faculty at the Autonomous University of Sinaloa, said most improvements have been aimed at protecting the product, not the person. These have been palliative programs, she said of such initiatives as improved protective clothing and more mesh tenting to shield against the sun and insects. There is not a

It may seem primitive to some, but not so long ago, most investors figured out for themselves how much of their 401(k) retirement plan to put into stocks or bonds. Now, more are letting a target-date mutual fund take care of that, particularly younger workers. One of every three savers with a 401(k) plan administered by Fidelity Investments has their entire account invested in just one target-date mutual fund, according to survey results released last week. The reliance on targetdate funds is even more pronounced among the youngest workers. Some 72% of those aged 20 to 24 have their complete 401(k) account balance invested in a single target-date fund. For workers aged 30 to 34, its 45%. For young people, many havent really invested in the stock market before, and its a great solution for them to dip their toe in, says Jeanne Thompson, vice president of thought leadership at Fidelity Investments. Target-date funds are intended to be all that a saver will need for their nest egg through retirement, by taking care of the strategic investment decisions. Investors pick a fund set for the year that they hope to retire. When that date is far of f, the fund own mostly stocks, hoping to reap the strong long-term returns that stocks can provide. As the hoped-for retirement year gets closer, targetdate funds rely more on bonds, which carry less risk of a sharp drop in price.

For young people, many havent really invested in the stock market before, and (mutual funds are) a great solution for them to dip their toe in.
Jeanne Thompson,
vice president of thought leadership at Fidelity Investments
Fidelity is the nations largest 401(k) administrator with 12.6 million accounts, and its survey results include data through Sept. 30. Others have seen similar trends. Vanguard found that 31% of all contributions made to the 401(k) and other defined-contribution plans that it administers went to target-date funds in 2012, up from 8% five years earlier. It also saw young er workers more reliant on targetdate funds than older ones. The sharp disparity may not be the result of a conscious choice. Nearly one of every four 401(k) plans that Fidelity administers enrolls workers automatically, up from one in eight five years ago. When that happens, the default investment choice for contributions is usually a target-date fund. Although they dont rely as heavily on target-date funds as their younger See MONEY, Page C5

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The reporter can be reached at wilkinson@latimes.com.

Eric McCormick