Adri Pioquinto - maskipops by adri, Black Smoke

Adri Pioquinto is a multifaceted, determined woman. A single, working mom with a 9-5, Adri fits in her home based baking business, maskipops by adri, and her custom crystal jewelry line, Black Smoke (that works with her Pranic Healing practice), while volunteering as head room mom and coaching her daughters’ school volleyball, basketball and softball teams. Her drive helped her baking hobby become a business, the desserts are art that she creates with her hands and flavors which include Filipino favorite ube. Adri has worked with clients such as Patron Spirits Co, Marvel, The Oscars, and Honest Co. And she does it all for her daughters— as an example of drive and perseverance and to provide them with something for the future.

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Instagram: @adri_p
FB: (re-launching soon!)

How did you get into baking? Have you always been interested in baking and working with food?
I feel like my Lolas had a huge influence on me. Lola Leonie owned LM's Bakery back in the Philippines so I would hear stories of her business savvy (where my Mom gets it too) and she would love to make bread pudding and pan de sal for us when she would come visit us in the States. Lola Cors had a love for FOOD. She was the ultimate foodie. I spent my childhood weekends in Baldwin Park eating fried fish and other ulam. She also made my birthday cake every year. My Dad can also throw down in the kitchen. He has a meticulous way to preparing all his Filipino dishes and they're all For dessert, he is known for his leche flan. As a young adult, I was not in the least bit interested in baking. LOL. I didn't have the patience to sit and wait. It wasn't until I owned my own home that I had the freedom to create in my kitchen. That's when I started experimenting more and found my rhythm with cooking. Having my own kitchen was short-lived when I had to short sale my house. That was devastating for me because I felt like I failed my family. I took it hard. My therapy was baking. Life handed me lemons and I made cake out of it! It was my creative outlet which I was able to transform into a business and provide another source of income to support my family. (To plug in Black Smoke, that also spawned off another heartbreaking life event - my divorce. It was the start of my spiritual journey and I am able to use Black Smoke to help other people heal from their heartaches and traumas. Again, life handed me lemons and I turned it into jewelry. LOL.)

What are your favorite ingredients and flavors to work with?
Cake-wise, ube is always fun. When I can impress Filipinos with my ube, I'm know I'm on the right track. It's also fun to get other cultures to try "the purple stuff". The highlight of my maskipops career was when Patron Spirits Inc. hired me to create desserts for their events infused with their tequila. I was able to replicate mixology flavors into cake pops. When I get an opportunity to create things off menu, I enjoy experimenting with different flavors.

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What are some of the favorite desserts you've created? And clients that you've worked with?

Some of my favorite desserts I created would be:

- My Questlove cake pop that went viral and the image ended up being used for his birthday bash at the Brooklyn Bowl

- Patron-infused Oscar cake pops served by Patron at an Oscar Party

- A fig floral cake I created in collaboration with The Crown Collective

- A birthday cake with chocolate Moroccan tiles I created for one of my best friends

Clients I've worked with include:

Patron Spirits Co., Nickelodeon, Marvel, Warner Brothers, Honest Co., Nordstrom, Anthem Inc., Blue Shield, Kylie Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, Olivia Culpo, Sire Jackson (50 Cent & Daphne Joy's Son), Penny Lane Centers, Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara, Minilicious, Geary's, Melody Ehsani, Jeff Suppan, Wife of the Party, Ben Baller, Masika Kalysha, PrettyLittleThing, Karrueche, Tammin Sursok, American Red Cross, Revolve, Alexandria House, Salina Yoon, OhNo the Disrupt, Opio of the Hieroglyphics, Calabasas Malibu Food + Wine Festival, Country Music Awards, The Oscars, The Dream Foundation, Who Cares: Teen Cancer America (The Who), James Anderson & Carissa Rosario, GuerillaOne, Pacific Polo Tour, After Church LA, UnplugdLA, The Supper Club, Celebrity Fight Night, BreakBread LA, Sugar Lagoon, The Crown Collective, Sundance Film Festival

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How do you get into the creative flow?
In the fall, college football gets me pumped! Listening to Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso on College Game Day and flipping channels to watch the different games. That is my fall baking routine. It really gets me in the zone. Otherwise, it's coffee & gangsta rap! ALL DAY!

What goes into designing cakes, cupcakes, cake pops, etc? What do you enjoy about the artistry of it?
First and foremost, I get to know the client or intended recipient so I know exactly how to wow them with both design and flavor. From that point, the creativity flows from thought, to paper, to cake, and to chocolate. It literally is created from nothing and it is such a rewarding feeling to know I created that with my own hands. That was my heart and soul put into those desserts. When the client gives me the freedom to "do my thing", that's like turbo boost for me. I go HAM. Hehe.

How did you grow your business?
The business started as a hobby that my friends told me to create into business. They were supportive then and are supportive now. So it's been through their support and sharing about me to friends, family and colleagues that really put me out there. I'm very grateful all the support I've had through these 8 years. Social media was also a huge factor. Before Instagram started skewing algorithms and charging for sponsors, I was able to have a pretty big reach. Not just for paying customers, but also to build a network to inspire other fellow bakers. That's why I share so much of my personal with my business - this is me. maskipops isn't just dessert. It's the working mom behind the desserts who just like anyone else, falls and get back up again and rediscovers herself.

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How do you find balance between motherhood and your career?
There was a time I didn't have balance. The corporate gig consumed my life at one point in time. Then the baking took over my life and I never slept. Seriously. Where I am now, the reason I am able to have so much on my plate, is that life has adjusted for me to allow enough time to allocate to my job, to my businesses and most importantly, to my children. The baking orders are manageable and not overwhelming. I know when it's time to log off COMPLETELY from work. I even manage to squeeze in me time and venture out to enjoy food and soak up art. I have a good thing going right now and I'm grateful.

Who/what is your biggest motivation?
Ava, Olivia & Hannah. I'm creating this for myself with the intention of handing this off to my girls. I want to leave them with something they can continue to run or to sell off and parlay that capital into fulfilling their own dreams. Not only is it a tangible offering but also to serve as a role model to show how a bad ass, single mom can make it happen and give them the life lessons they need to hold it down for themselves.

Do you have any upcoming events or projects that you're excited about?
Those that have been following me have seen me reinvent myself over and over again. They have seen me fall and bounce back, stop and come back...I'm all over the place but I'm evolving. Now that I'm in a place of peace and happiness, I'm bridging my businesses into one...collective. More to come but I'm looking for the other pieces to fit my collective. That's a huge project I am working on for 2020 but in the near future, I'm looking forward to vending at two pop ups at the end of June with Mostly Angels LA and Community Healing.

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Photos courtesy of Adri Pioquinto

Jeannine Roson