When it comes to talents, it seems like Abby Jimenez has a baker’s dozen. After being laid off from her job as a retail manager—and pregnant with her third child in three years—she took a few baking classes and launched the frosted empire that is now Nadia Cakes from her Palmdale, California, home kitchen. The plot thickened as she won Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. A cross-country road trip landed the Jimenez family in Minnesota, where they knew no one and nothing, except that we were in need of a good cupcake shop. Now, with her Maple Grove and Woodbury bakeries operating like well-greased machines, Jimenez can be found crafting snappy dialogue for her next romance novel and filming videos of her TikTok-famous dogs, Tess and Stuntman Mike. With four books already on shelves and her fifth, Yours Truly, launching in April, the international best-selling author talked with us about her incredible true story.
How do you have time for writing amid running Nadia Cakes?
I work from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to sleep. I really do. The business is open every day, and my California shop is on a different time zone, so I have to be available from 8:00 a.m. till 10:00 p.m. just for the shops. I do a lot of writing on my phone, so I’m able to write wherever I am. I’ll be at the grocery store, and I’ll think up a line and write it on my phone.
What do you love about romance novels?
I always loved romance. But there was a certain type that I was always chasing—something that was funny but also dealt with more serious issues—and it was so hard to find. That’s what inspired me to write my own, because I was like, I’m just going to write the kind of romances that I want to read. My books are rom-coms, but they’re very serious as well. I cover issues like infertility, complicated grief, domestic violence, and mental health issues. But to actually be called a romance, you have to have a happy-ever-after; that is a requirement of the genre. You know you’re reading a safe book because, no matter what these characters go through in the middle, there’s going to be a happy ending.
How do you recharge?
I like to put on an audiobook and cook. It’s what I do for fun. I’m Sicilian, so I grew up eating really fabulous food. In the summer, I’ll go to the farmers’ market and get a ton of fresh basil and onions and tomatoes, and I’ll just make this huge batch of pasta sauce that’ll carry us for the next few months.
I see signed (and paw-tographed by your dogs!) copies of your newest book are only available through a local bookstore.
Yes, I like to support local, family-owned businesses, so I always do everything through Magers and Quinn. I also occasionally mention local businesses in my books; I’m including a kitten rescue from Minnesota in my sixth book.
If you wrote a book about your life, what would its title be?
I Can’t Believe This. Everything that has happened to me, and I mean everything. If you had told me five years earlier I was going to have a cupcake shop, I would’ve been like, What? I didn’t go to culinary school. I would’ve never believed you if you had told me I’d end up in Minnesota. (And I know the winters are brutal, but they’re also very beautiful.) And then if you had told me I was going to be a New York Times best-selling author, I would’ve been like, Did I write a cookbook? And the great thing about my life journey is I’m just doing what I enjoy doing. I’m not forcing it; I’m having a good time. If at any point in time I stopped enjoying writing the books, I wouldn’t do it anymore. When things are fun, they’re easy to practice.
Tell me about your personal style.
I’ve got two very distinct styles: runway and sweatpants. I’m either super comfortable, or I’m completely dressed to the nines.
How was your Evereve styling experience?
I had never been styled before, and it was so great. The stylist put me in things that I never would have thought to try, and I was surprised how much I liked them. I’m in love with this shirt. It was one of the first things I tried on.
On Jimenez: Cleobella “Dara” blouse ($168), “Ever Straight” jeans ($128), Sam Edelman “Raffia Hazel” pumps ($160), Gorjana “Lou” earrings ($50), and Jenny Bird “Sofia Mega” bracelet, all from EVEREVE, evereve.com
This article originally appeared in the March 2023 issue of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine as part of our series, The Foreword, presented by Evereve.