We had the good fortune of connecting with Ivonne Pantoja and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ivonne, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Honestly, I was overwhelmed; I constantly put it off because I had no idea where to start. I’ve watched YouTube videos and read online forums to figure out packaging, pricing, and how to recipe test. I have always been a very indecisive person growing up and having that characteristic makes decisions tough. The constant trial and error helps me add another piece to my puzzle; each trial and error also brings something to my attention and causes me to think “oh okay, this looks like something I would need next time, now I know.” Every day is a journey. There are probably things I still don’t know that I need, but I know that something is brought to my attention each day and I go from there to building my business.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My business has two components that I think is a great niche. I make vegan pan dulce and plan on veganizing a lot of the desserts in Mexican culture. There are not a lot of vegan mexican food spots here in the Dallas and I want to help fill in the gap. I can’t wait to start launching more products other than pan dulce. It’s going to be a new challenge and I am terrified, but I know it will be another journey of it’s own.
I feel a moment of glory every time I step back and look at the orders I accomplished that day. It’s a reminder that I am talented and I am capable of doing this. You have to be able to affirm yourself because you can’t rely on others to tell you how good you are or to pursue that idea. Compliments and encouragement are great but the next day will come when you will be by yourself again to do the work with no one around to affirm you. This is what helped me get to where I am currently. My boyfriend helped me believe in myself and now that I do, it is important that I keep up with those beliefs daily. I went from a household where my parents didn’t encourage me to follow my dreams or talk about self esteem and emotions in general. I had to figure it out once I moved out. This year, my 24th year of life, has been dark. It’s hard starting a business when you don’t have strong foundations in the first place. What I mean by that is self esteem and self love. I did not feel worthy for a long time, and I still do not sometimes. I am a work in progress. I have learned that if I don’t believe in me, no one else will. That has been my biggest struggle in all of this. I don’t want to let my personal issues prevent me from working for this. In fact, running this business is helping me feel worthy and talented. It is a win-win situation.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Some fo my favorite spots :
Bishop Arts: Tribal All Day Cafe. There food is healthy and delicious. It’s a tiny small cafe, but I love going there to catch up with a friend!
Xaman Cafe: I had an amazing oaxacan mocha there. The food is delicious and reminds me of the motherland.
Exall Park: Great place in East Dallas to go for a walk or run. There’s lots of space; I go there when I need to get out of my apartment and get fresh air.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My boyfriend. Before I actually dived into starting my business, I spent most days coming home from the job I was miserable at; I complained and felt I was experiencing a crisis because I did not know where my life was heading. I always told my boyfriend that I wanted to be a baker growing up but I didn’t have the encouragement I wish I had from my parents to follow my dreams.
He asked me, “Why can’t you do it?”
And I would always say, “It’s not actually going to happen. I can’t start a bakery business. I don’t know how to do that.”
He would always question me why. Then slowly he helped me understand that I CAN do it. I just had to figure it out, no matter how frustrating it would be at times.
I don’t think I would have started if it wasn’t for him. He’s been my biggest supporter throughout this whole process. I am so happy to have met him.
client credit for photos: Zaahida Salazar, Mariel Nevarez