She will graduate from North Iowa Area Community College with her associate’s degree in accounting in December, but in the wake of the pandemic, Vallejo became worried she’d quickly be overwhelmed by debt.

“Part of why I started this is because I don’t want to bury myself in student loans,” Vallejo said. “Also, with this whole COVID thing, my [husband’s] hours started to come down, but the bills never stop coming, so I was like, ‘I need to get a part-time job.’”

Having spent part of her time off making treats with her kids, and taking advantage of the season by decorating strawberries, Alejandra’s husband had an idea.

“My husband’s like, ‘You should sell these, babe. Nobody does this here,” she said.

“I thought, well, I always wanted to own my own business. I need to pay for my books, I need to pay for bills that we have,” Vallejo said. “I love decorating (desserts) and you know – like, why not give it a shot.”

In early August, Vallejo, who uses the shortened name “Alex” in her branding, took her hobby and tiptoed into the culinary game.

Sweet Creations by Alex custom designs gift boxes of dipped strawberries. 

Lisa Grouette

She made a Facebook page and started posting pictures there and in area marketplace groups of her intricately decorated berries – some topped with candy and cookies, some nestled beside fresh flowers and shimmery confetti.