We had the good fortune of connecting with Nancy Castillo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nancy, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Work-life balance is a tug of war in business, more so with the pandemic going on. We value it, very much cherish it, but can be hard to preserve a long lasting balance. Things can be very unpredictable, but there is a key point that I have learned throughout our journey: keep it simple. There are so many beautiful shops and menus that inspire, but our budget is small so we have to keep things very simple interior and menu wise. Our products are the star of the show after all, so I like to work with what we have and what we’re good at. Trendy items and themes can be fun, but they can also drain time, energy, money, and are often short-lived. I’ve learned that our main products are very flexible too and can be adjusted seasonally. In turn, a simpler menu and shop gives us consistency in products and work schedules. I am better able to control what work goes into the shop and what time off we all get outside of the bakery, which we all very much deserve!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
When I first became vegan, I heard the saying, “Compassion towards all living things.” I think this really affected how I view competitiveness and business today. Some years back, I worked with a brilliant pastry chef and many advanced- level cake decorators, but it was ultra-competitive and the environment was tense. I was an outsider coming into a territorial space. In many ways, the business world is exactly that. It took me a lot of courage to carefully talk to people and get to know everyone better. Everybody has a story and reason for the way they are. Once I understood those hardships and responses, it was easier for me to weave my way around. I learned to be the support people needed, to be a hard worker in the background, and let those who needed to shine have the spotlight. Some people like to be on top and others like to help those get to the top (which I think is an underappreciated way of thinking). That was my way of giving back in the workspace I think, and it worked great for me. In my own business, I am pretty similar. I give credit where it is due and I support my team as much as I can. There are still many challenges and you will not see eye to eye with everyone, but I think when you show compassion to people and yourself, you’ll find your way easier.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The EarthX Festival is one of my favorite local festivals to attend! It’s a 3-day weekend event that is eco-friendly and promotes companies, films, and products that are also environmentally friendly. In the previous years that I have attended, they have displayed the coolest tiny house models, electric and hydrogen cars, and products like geothermal systems, solar panels, gardening structures, compostable goods, and more! Back at home in South Texas, we don’t have places like Blue Sushi, Sheba’s Ethiopian, Bistro B, D’Vegan, India Garden, Best Thai, or Fadi’s Mediterranean, so I would probably take my family and friends there. For coffee, I like White Rock Coffee and the lake nearby for a picnic or bike rides. For venturing out of the area, I love going to Canton, TX for the First Monday Trade Days, which is a monthly flea market where you’ll find antiques and other neat collectables. And if there are any sport events going on, we’ll plan to go to a Cowboys, Mavs, FC Dallas, or Stars game of course.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My business partner, Racene Mendoza, is the reason our bakery exists today. Without her, the bakery would not have opened. She put all her cards on the table and jumped into this crazy journey with me. While I managed the kitchen end of things, she ran the business part of it. She is super friendly, outgoing, and hardworking! To this day, I do not personally know anyone who has patiently waited 3+ hours to speak to customer service and then become friends with the representative. This is Racene. Our friendship has changed so much because we go through ups and downs that normal friendships do not experience. It takes a lot of patience and trust to have a personal friendship and professional relationship with someone, to be able to talk about taxes and then about her pet birds. Every business has a certain personality that shines, and I think ours is Racene.