It took a while for Karla Armour to make her passion a profession, but now that she has, there’s no turning back.

The 48-year-old from the Rosemoor neighborhood took a winding road to get to her current role as owner of La Matriz Bakery, an online pastry shop that specializes in treats that combine African American and Latino cultures. Karla has plans to expand her business by adding a brick and mortar storefront in the Hegewisch community in 2019.

When Karla finished Hyde Park Academy High School, she enrolled at UIC. After graduating  in 1994 with a degree in English, she embarked on a 13 year career in public relations. In 2001, however, she was laid off, and when she saw an ad for culinary school on TV, she knew that was what she was meant to do. She completed both a Basic Certificate and Advanced Certificate in Culinary Arts at Kennedy-King College’s Washburne Culinary Institute in 2014.

While at Washburne, Karla utilized advising, career services and various networking opportunities. Her Kennedy-King College experience wasn’t without challenges—she lost her sister midway through the program, but persevered thanks to unending support and encouragement from her family.

With a top-notch industry education under her belt, Karla started her second career. She went on to work for Mariano’s as a baker, Washburne Catering, and Sodexo, a hospitality company. An arthritic condition forced Karla to stop working as a commercial baker, but it prompted her to open La Matriz Bakery.

In December of 2017, Windy City Live selected her as one of six semi-finalists in “’The Chew’s Best Chef on the Block Cook-Off Contest.” Plus, Karla’s profession has allowed her the opportunity to give to those in need, and even to appear live on WGN TV.

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