Huntsman Hall this time of year teems with students and recruiters. It’s on–campus recruiting season. Hopping from information sessions to on–campus interviews, hundreds of students suit up to impress the employers from JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, and their ilk.
Yael Krigman (C '02) was once one of those students. Her focus was in the field of law. She graduated from Penn with a double major in communication and Spanish, earned her law degree from Georgetown University, and worked in White & Case LLP as a law associate. But then, about eight years ago, she gave up her six–figure income at a top law firm and opened her own business in Washington DC, Baked by Yael.
In an interview with The Inquirer, Yael said, “When I was a law firm associate, I pulled all–nighters for the firm’s clients… Now, when I pull an all–nighter, it’s for my own clients.” Yael didn’t intentionally plan to become a baker or an entrepreneur, but she finds that, unlike law firms, baking can make people happy, not just selling cake pops and bagels, but rather "experiences."
Nut–free and kosher, the magic of Baked by Yael’s cake pops and bagels is demonstrated through photos on its website featuring alluring cake pops glazed with beautiful colors and authentic bagels made from scratch. Whether it is fancy deserts or basic breakfast foods, Baked by Yael knows how to treat you (and your Instagram) well. To celebrate Passover, Baked by Yael is currently offering a special series that include Matzah bliss and gluten–free cake pops.
Baked by Yael also has initiatives to support local nonprofits. Yael explained that they donate unsold bagels to Bread for the City, a social service organization in DC. This initiative is a fruit of Yael’s studies at Penn, where she says she learned the importance of giving back to the community. She loves seeing the smiles on her customers’ faces.
Unlike the stiff timetable she kept as a lawyer, Yael’s schedule now is different every day. She can be running from meeting to meeting or staying in the kitchen to prepare for a big order. While she is working more hours now than before, entrepreneurship gives Yael more control over her destiny as she is working for herself, not others.
Penn has helped to shape Yael into the person she is today. Through her majors in communication and Spanish, she was able to develop critical thinking, build a network of mentors and friends, and even study abroad. Despite her pursuit in law, Yael enjoyed the marketing courses that she took at Penn. “At the time, I had no idea I would own a business that would become a case study for the next generation of college students.” Through realizing her hopes and dreams, Yael has left a legacy for many other students who aspire to be an entrepreneur.
When envisioning the blueprint of her business, she is filled with excitement. “Being a small business owner is an adventure,” she said. Her current goal is to consolidate their store across the National Zoo, their four weekend farmers’ markets, and their online shipping business.
“Beyond that, who knows!”