Tanika Echols’ Chi Bakery, located in Chicago’s growing, fashionable South Loop, is making quite a name for itself. In the six months since opening, the news of her tasty treats have spread by word of mouth like wildfire. The information systems graduate has found her niche, doing something she really loves. She is the first to tell you, “I don’t just like my job. I love my job.” –tony binns
Location is everything. How did you scout this location?
I’ve always wanted to own a business downtown. We drove around, and my daughter goes to school in Chinatown, and we would ride pass [this spot] all the time and, finally, saw the space and I said, “I want that space right there.” However, it took us almost a year to complete everything — the architectural drawings and the total build out.
Tell me about your products and what makes them unique.
They are unique because I do an assorted cupcake. I do about 14 different kinds of cupcake. I do the traditional — red velvet, carmel, yellow cake, chocolate — but I also have exotic favors like neapolitan, pineapple coconut and dreamsicle. I have something for the older people and something for the new generation.
Were you professionally trained?
No. I didn’t go to culinary school. I used to bake with my grandmother in the kitchen when I was young, and I learned all of her recipes. I got almost all her recipes, and I implemented some new ones, mixing and matching. All the recipes are from my grandmother and great-grandmother.
What is your favorite item?
My favorite item is my strawberry cupcake with strawberry cream cheese icing.
As an entrepreneur what is the best part and the most challenging part of owning your own business?
The most challenging part is that it takes 80 percent of your time. Your business is your life. The best part is you are working for yourself. You are working hard for your own money. You are working to establish something for your family.
Chi Bakery offers cupcakes, traditional cakes, metropolitan gourmet teas and powder puff cookies and are located at 2132 S. Michigan Ave., 312-808-0482. For more information, visit www.chibakery.com.