March 4, 2019
The Struggle is Real

The man who gave me hives doesn't get enough credit

Renee Diaz, owner of Queen's Cups in Worcester.

The Struggle is Real

In 2017, Renee Diaz moved her upstart cupcake business The Queen's Cups from Millbury into a larger space in Worcester's Canal District. With a year of lessons learned, she now writes the monthly advice column The Struggle is Real to help entrepreneurs and business owners navigate their own trials and tribulations.

I hate being called The Queen, but in all honesty, I know it will 1) never go away, 2) could be worse, and 3) is free advertising. Despite being a relatively shy person, I've never steered away from the press. The exposure my bakery, The Queen's Cup, has received from media like the Phantom Gourmet, The Chronicle, Mass Foodies, MassLive and Worcester Business Journal is a tremendous boost for business.

In my everyday life, I promise you I'm not as cool as all of these publications make me seem. I wait for the weekend, enjoy getting a coffee every morning, spend money I probably shouldn't, and surf between trashy reality TV and Pinterest when home at night.

When The Queen's Cups was just beginning almost seven years ago, I was stressed all the time. I cried a lot. My friends thought I was completely crazy. Yet, there was nothing they wouldn't do to help me. They were waking up at 5 a.m. to help me make cupcakes, do dishes, fold cake boxes and work on the weekends after being in school or having a full-time job. They listened to me go on for hours about reviews and staffing problems. Maybe they just wanted to enjoy a meal at the Boynton, or stuff their faces with queso at Moe's, without hearing me complain. But they never once said it. Now they are lawyers like Cailin Bullett, finance managers like Stephanie Morrissey, school adjustment counselors like Rachel Reidy, academic advisors like Julie Frankian and senior community managers like Christina Gomes. They are fierce, intelligent and strong. They are my best friends.

While I largely am recognized for being a woman in business and being friends with other strong female owners, I am indebted to many men who have treated me as a friend, mentor and little sister: Brian Treitman, Pete Rano, Adam Hicks, Michael Covino, Buddy Bartlett and Luke M. Vaillancourt, to name a few. Two other guys in my life, who don't get the headlines, are my brothers Bobby and Paulie. Everywhere they go, they are reminded they are The Queen's brothers and are asked how my business is doing. We joke around about how they are sick of it, but I am sure it's annoying since they have their own identities. Bobby is very successful at his job (but I really cannot tell you what he does), plays the guitar and is a national chess master. Paulie is a physical education teacher, owns property, has a blue belt in Brazilian jui-juitsu and is a varsity basketball coach. They have always been protective of me – except the one time Paulie pulled my arm out of the socket while we were playing outside – but either way, I hope they know how much they mean to me. And Bobby, if you do read this, I do listen to your advice! It just may take a couple years to put it into practice.

And then there is the guy I met at a charity bar crawl. Six months later, he saw me at a coffee shop, and two weeks after that, he came into Queen's Cups to ask me on a date. After I babbled a bunch of gibberish while talking to him, I broke out in hives. At that time in my life, I swore off men, wanting to live alone in my bachelorette pad forever. The hives, though, were probably a reaction to my immediate crush. After our first date, I knew he would be the man I would marry. Miguel Diaz is the most genuine and thoughtful person to ever enter my life. I believe my grandfather, who was my best friend and passed away when I was 15 years old (I think he just didn't want to buy me a car), sent him to me. Miguel had no idea what he was taking on when he began dating and later married a business woman, but I can tell you he has adapted to my crazy schedule better than I ever could have.

I am thankful for all of the press, the people who read this column, the articles, photos, guests and stories I hear from experiences at my shop. I am grateful for all I have been given, because that fame can be gone in an instant. But, behind The Queen, a handful of people keep me strong and my ego in check.

Renee Diaz is the owner of The Queen's Cups in Worcester, which generated more than $1 million in revenue last year.

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