Overcoming entrepreneurial obstacles during the pandemic

May 12, 2021

Nadia Montoya learned about Canal Alliance’s Construyendo Mi Negocio (“Building My Business”) class from friends. “It was the perfect place to receive support to start my own business,” Nadia remarked. She is now one year into the development of Nadia’s Dessert, a bakery offering organic, wheat-free, and vegan products with minimal sugar. 

Now, she plans to open her own bakery with the knowledge she acquired through Canal Alliance. While she had taken some culinary classes in El Salvador, her country of origin, Nadia didn’t use these skills until after immigrating to the United States.  

Nadia Montoya

But just one year ago, it was hard for Nadia to imagine where her entrepreneurial endeavors would lead. With only two classes to go before completing the Construyendo Mi Negocio series, shelter-in-place was declared. Nadia and her classmates attended their last two business classes online. While the students completed the program with the skills and business plans needed to launch their companies, shelter-in-place and the related health and economic crises added unexpected challenges, which threatened to jeopardize these carefully detailed plans. 

Nadia remains optimistic and grounded. “Because of the virus,” she shares, “things have been slower this last year, but I am taking advantage of the time I have. Our teacher in Construyendo Mi Negocio taught us to plan by first looking at our short-term goals and the steps to get there. It’s motivating to feel my achievements along the way: taking care of legalities and meeting regulations, experimenting with new recipes, and also creating my website, logo, and business card. This has helped me feel like my dreams are coming true.” 

Until the day comes when Nadia has a bakery and café, she is committed to taking advantage of all the opportunities that come her way. “Recently, I’ve been exploring what I can do with edible printing paper for cakes and cupcakes. Customers are reserving cakes for birthday parties, graduations, and Mother’s Day, and they are requesting baked goods with images of cartoon and movie characters on them, and I’m perfecting my abilities to be able fill their requests.” 

Nadia keeps busy running her business. In addition to customers who make orders by phone or social media, she sells a dozen products at the Mill Valley Market, including banana bread, cookies, lemon poppyseed cake, and eclairs. 

Nadia is overjoyed knowing that her products are well-received. She remembered, “The other day I received a phone call. ‘Are you Nadia who bakes the desserts?’ the woman asked. I was worried she was going to make a complaint, but instead she said, ‘I was wondering when your tiramisu will be back in stock at the supermarket, because it’s the best I’ve ever had!’ This was truly so comforting to hear!” 

“Through Construyendo Mi Negocio, I really learned to prioritize things and use time efficiently to work towards my dreams and goals,” Nadia comments. Given all that Nadia has been able to accomplish in this very difficult year, it’s evident she has been putting these lessons into daily practice.

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