Yeni Monroy pursues her dream and opens Dream Day Cakes
Published: Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 28, 2012 at 4:56 p.m.
Yeni Monroy pursued one dream by leaving her native Colombia to be a microbiology researcher at the University of Michigan.
Occupation: Cake artist, Dream Day Cakes
Personal: Married, no children, no pets
Dream Partner for Lunch: "My husband."
Last Book Read: "Rework" by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Favorite TV Show: "Once Upon a Time"
Playing in her car: Jim Brickman's Disney Collection
Hobby: "Riding the motorcycle until we see blue (water)."
Education: Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogota, Colombia, microbiology
Yeni (pronounced "Jenny") went in a completely different direction after following her husband to Gainesville when he encouraged her to pursue her other dream — making custom cakes sculpted into dogs, horses, cartoon characters and all manner of objects to reflect the tastes of those celebrated at birthdays, weddings and other special events.
Monroy and husband, Fred Posner, opened Dream Day Cakes and a bakery they call Bearkery three years ago.
From a kitchen in the Northwest Industrial Park, Monroy and baker Lindsay McGill bake cakes, cupcakes, cake pops, cookies, muffins and several types of breads for special events or for breakfast and dessert catering. Monroy also teaches classes in a tasting room.
Monroy's specialty is the elaborate shapes and colorful designs of her custom cakes. Posner said she won't tell him her tricks for making features that seemingly defy gravity, including an edible string for a kite and the dangling jester's hat on Batman character Harley Quinn.
Posner said she goes into her researcher mode to come up with design ideas down to intricate details such as including Puerto Rico on the badge for an enlisted Marine's hat that wouldn't be on an officer's hat.
Her cakes have included detailed roses and fur made of frosting for Sulley from "Monster's Inc."
A cake for The Rock School's awards program included a large depiction of movie film with edible photos of students in the cells.
Monroy said her parents, both teachers, insisted she go to school, earn degrees and get a career. She said she loves science and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in microbiology in Colombia.
"I'm a very nerdy person," she said.
All the while, baking, and arts and crafts, were her hobbies.
After working in the pharmaceutical industry for five years, she moved to the U.S. in 2007 to work in the pulmonary division at the VA hospital through the University of Michigan, and later produced viruses used in research.
Even before moving to the U.S., Monroy had met Posner at her cousin's wedding in Michigan in 2004, and they connected when she moved there when Posner was traveling for his information technology work.
Monroy said she destressed from work by baking and got into making custom cakes from watching TV shows. She said the only wedding gift she wanted was a KitchenAid mixer.
"I started baking like crazy and I started making my own fondant."
Posner encouraged her hobby, buying her books and videos. After a year of practicing, she took classes with chefs.
Posner had a house in Gainesville that he couldn't sell, so they decided to move here in 2009.
"He said the magic words, ‘We're going to be near Disney,'" Monroy said.
She applied for research positions at the University of Florida, but Posner was encouraging her to go into the cake business. She practiced for a year while preparing to open the business.
"My friends were very happy because they got a lot of cool, nice cakes for free," she said.
Posner wouldn't discuss sales figures but said the business is growing all the time. He did say they go through 90 dozen eggs and 70 to 80 pounds of butter in a normal week.
Costs are something he said they can't predict. In their first year, floods drove up the cost of flour, then drought drove up the costs. A dozen eggs can go up by a dollar from one week to the next.
Monroy said that as much as she loves science, baking has less stress.
"We decided to go on this adventure that we still enjoy," she said. "Every day is more exciting, and it's still growing."