Nestled in the Historic East End District of Houston, Texas you will find two bustling businesses run by two equally talented and impressive Latina’s leading the pack and changing the face of what an entrepreneur is. This mother/daughter duo each run their own successful companies that are winning the hearts of not only this predominately Latino community but the attention of customers as far away as China!
Nancy Mendoza is the matriarch of this talented duo that not only broke through barriers, and obstacles to open up her cake shop, Nancy’s Cake Designs, she also opened up the door allowing her daughters to dream big with a can-do attitude of “Si Se Puede.” All three of Nancy’s daughters reflect the entrepreneur spirit as they each bring their own talents to assist with their mother’s cake shop and sister, Yvonne’s business. Yvonne is the proprietor of Tierra de los Artesanos: The Fair Market. Tierra is a marketplace with a local and international mission of encouraging artisans to share their creative talents at a platform that “reflects fair trade and sustainable practices,” shared Yvonne. By creating this opportunity Latina/o immigrants can expand their talents and share their products on “an international scale,” and “continue using their artisanal skills as a mode for economic empowerment.”
Together, these women are showing the entrepreneurial spirit of Latinas. The last census found that the number of Latina-owned businesses jumped a whopping 87.5 percent.
Of course, the road to these successful ventures doesn’t come without obstacles. Nancy and Yvonne both carved out a roadmap to lead them down the journey we find them on today. Nancy was raised by her father, mother, and abuelita in Nuevo León, Mexico. In Mexico, the family was very poor so her father made the move to the United States for work allowing him to support his family with extra income to send back home. During this time her mother had the idea to open up a bakery in their town of General Terán. “I would stand on top of a chair watching her make the cakes and icing daily,” Nancy recalled. She opened up a whole new world that inspired Nancy to have dreams of owning her own cake shop someday.
At 15, Nancy made her way to the U.S. on her quest to make her dreams a reality, and never forgetting her father’s words: “You are going to have your own business.” This encouragement provided the inspiration that led to the groundwork in which Nancy carved out a name for herself among the community today.
Garnering 17 years of experience in a local grocery store called Fiesta, she trained and mastered the skills from her start as a baker to accepting a design position that became available. “Once there, I started presenting my own ideas to create, and it’s where I began cake designs to display at the store,” shared Nancy. Seven years as a cake decorator led to becoming the bakery manager. “I was only the second woman during that time to accomplish that,” shared Nancy. Although the road wasn’t a fast track to where she is today, it was a journey that gave her the opportunity to showcase her talents and gain the experience she would need to take the leap of faith of opening her own cake shop.
In 2002 Nancy’s Cake Designs became a reality but not without its trials and tribulations. “It was hard to sell my business as a cake shop without a bakery,” shared Nancy – a concept that wasn’t as popular as today. “For three years, [my] books were in the red, and there were times we thought the business would fold.”
Today, Nancy’s Cake Design is not short on clients as they have come to love, admire, and seek out her artistic advice and style for creating their own masterpieces. With long-standing clientele recommending the cake shop to others, Nancy has carved a name for herself among the bustling East End community. Creating custom cakes, and cookies, with wedding cakes being her “forte,” Nancy’s Cake Designs is gaining popularity beyond Texas, and receiving orders from as far away as New York, Chicago, California, and other countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, and even China seek out her knack for delivering not only flavorful, but tailor-made cakes beaming with the charisma of each client’s imagination for that significant moment in time they celebrate.
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Coming from Mexico to the United States at such a young age, new language barriers, and raising three daughters while working full time.. opening up a bakery didn't seem to be in picture. Fifteen years later, Nancy has established an incredible reputation within the Latino community and beyond because of her work ethic and beautifully executed masterpieces. Known for her “está en su casa” style, Nancy has guided and consulted hundreds of clients to create their dreamy, one-of-a-kind custom cakes. May your Monday be as inspirational as Nancy's story. www.nancyscakedesigns.com
If she could name one word to describe her journey, Nancy said it would be “perseverance.” Perseverance that is being passed onto the next generation that Nancy is happy to be a part of. “Everyone has the opportunity in every facet of life to advance,” shares this Houston cake artist. “To be able to show more Latinos to grow in this businesses, and be owners of their own business,” is a dream of Nancy’s. A future where her shop continues to flourish and grow. A concept that has resonated with her daughter Yvonne in her career path as she is making great strides and creating opportunities to showcase her culture in a unique storefront that welcomes you into a little piece of Mexico as you step through its doors.
Tierra de los Artesanos is the brainchild of this talented young Latina with a vision for opening doors to the talented artisans of Mexico, and Mexican immigrants from Houston. 27-year-old Yvonne Mendoza could be considered a somewhat triple threat in the business world with not only owning her own shop, but working a full-time job as a social worker, and being a traveling guru seeking out the talents of artisans among various towns in Mexico. “I wanted to find a place that would impact the Mexican community directly, and find a place that had the same values and ethics we have as social workers,” Yvonne explained.
“Tierra is a component of three core values” – her culture, the mixture of her profession, and her faith is what binds her formula for success. “I love the colors, the embroidery work, and people of Mexico, and it takes a lot of guts to open a business,” shared Yvonne. Launching on a small scale with an online store, Yvonne began with money she had saved and reinvested from working. Carving out a niche for her business is where the humble beginnings of this visionary began along with pop-up shops throughout Houston that led to the opening of her storefront in East End in 2017.
The kinds of handcrafted, authentic items you will find range from clothes, purses, wallets, jewelry, decorative items for the home, a small collection of housewares, and more. “Some artisans are intrigued by an international partnership,” Yvonne noted. Those working relationships established during her trips share their creations unique to their towns in Mexico such as Merida, Chamula, and Guanajuato. “All items are fair-trade and directly impact each artisan,” shares their website where you will also find their journey with Tierra highlighted. “My trip to Merida in 2014 inspired me to open up a place where people could come and enjoy these different regions of Mexico in one place, and learn about the artist behind the work.” With Yvonne’s guidance and her blueprint for walking each artisan through the process of setting up the relationships through the proper channels, they are given the confidence to share their talents with a brand new audience in the United States.
Authenticity and originality are what these two Latina powerhouses bring to the entrepreneur world as they are part of the movement changing the landscape of what a business owner is and can be. Like Yvonne learned from her parents, “if we can’t find what we’re looking for then start that company.”