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Community Highlights: Meet Dominique Cancio of Moon Milk Baking Co

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dominique Cancio.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Growing up as a creative first-generation Latinx kid in South San Diego, college wasn’t an avenue that made sense for me at the time. I knew that I needed to learn skills that would help make me self-efficient after high school, but I also needed to choose a career in something I loved doing. Cooking was such a big part of my life because of my mom’s and grandma’s love for it while I was growing up.

The community, history, and the culture that surrounds food are what helped my ever-growing passion for it. What specifically got me into baking was the chemistry and the creative aspect of the medium. I was also a vegetarian when I decided to go to the California School of the Culinary Arts/Le Cordon Bleu program in Pasadena, California. After graduating from Bonita Vista Highschool, I enrolled in the Patisserie and Baking Program there and graduating in 2005.

In my thirteen years working in the industry, from the east to the west coast, my career’s focus has shifted dramatically. I became more involved in food politics when I moved back to Los Angeles from New York. I was an advocate for food gardens in brown neighborhoods, collected hundreds of signatures for mandatory labeling of non-GMO foods, supported farmers, and became invested in the local vegan community. Vegan food was so much more accessible in Los Angeles, which helped me expand my knowledge tremendously. However, because I studied and worked in French pastries, I struggled to find decent vegan bake goods that satisfied me. At the time, I was also dating a vegan, which made eating together that much more challenging. I love feeding people, getting so much joy from sharing something I’ve made with others, so being unable to do that with someone I was dating forced me to grow my skills.

The past few decades have shown us that the welfare of the planet, the animals, and the people cannot continue to get disregarded. Our food choices have more of an impact on our daily life than we realized. Therefore, I wanted something that represented more balance, positivity, and consciousness. I was unaware of what that would be at the time.

When I finally moved back to San Diego, it became yet another chapter in my plant-based baking journey. On one of my many breaks from the kitchen, I ended up working for Specialty Produce for a couple of years, and through that experience, I was able to immerse myself in San Diego’s local food culture. I got to see the full spectrum of the industry on a whole new level, including some of its beauty and its systemic ugliness.

Discussing the Food and Beverage’s dark side openly on social platforms had been taboo for years, but as we emerge out the pandemic, there has been a radical awareness for reform. Mental health has become more of a priority for us all, especially after the global pandemic giving way to the birth of Moon Milk Baking Co.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Mid-2019 was the peak of both my business projects and personal life. I was getting a lot of notaries locally and worldwide with my work with Airbnb and Getty Images. I had just brought a new home with my partner with big plans for our lives for the following year. Unfortunately, all our ambitions would come to a rather dramatic stop creating uncertainty in everything I and we had built at that point.

Moon Milk Baking Co. was a direct result of losing my original business, Taste Venture Tours, and my Las Mijas collaboration falling through. In the beginning, MMBC was a product of failed projects and survival. It’s why it was so hard to do this interview initially because I quickly realize that this wasn’t going to be a puff piece.

So many of us are still healing and processing the loss and growth of this pandemic. My brand has been a tangible example of that. The lucky ones who were able to pivot inspired me to take this little side hustle to the next level. While I met so many challenges creating a baking business out of my home, I started to realize how much I could just be myself through it. The silver lining in creating this brand was exploring other ideas and creative passions alongside my baking skills. In a search to find the brand’s identity, business was booming during the pandemic. My custom orders were doing so well that I quickly grew out of my home kitchen. Many people didn’t know I had to take a job as an essential worker to help my income gap while still running Moon Milk. There are still weeks that I have to work any were from 50-70 hours a week to make sure I’m sustaining my responsibilities and my entrepreneurial endeavors. The journey has never been easy, but it has been worth it. Creating something you are proud of and getting to share that with your community has been priceless. While searching for a commercial kitchen, ultimately ending up at the Brew Bar kitchen in Chula Vista, it all felt serendipitous.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Moon Milk Baking Co?
Moon Milk Baking Co. has been a way to promote the cosmic connection to ourselves, the earth, the universe, and each other. In its evolution, it has become a sort of lifestyle brand and an outlet for inspired expression. One of the most rewarding aspects of this venture has been the community we’ve built and continue to grow. We are close to hitting 1K this summer on our Instagram, starting with less this 300 followers back in March of this year. To expand our reach, I also added a Tik Tok account on our social platforms.

While the brand mostly started with custom cake and dessert orders, we’re growing to expand into local wholesale, direct-to-consumer online ordering, brand merch, product collaborations, paid club memberships/subscriptions, classes, and doing more pop-ups/events.

While MMBC has great external support, many unseen internal pillars make running this brand possible. That includes my fiancé, Sean Freidheim, and my good friend, Paige Johnson. They continue to show up through this process, and I am forever grateful for them. While Sean and I are working on making the brand an LLC this year and expanding #teammoonmilk for 2022, Paige has donated her time to help develop gluten-friendly options through her years of personal and professional experience. We also have an unofficial/official graphic designer that makes all the beautiful design work for the brand, local artist Janine Enriquez.

Currently, you can find some of our assorted vegan cookies at Deja Brew Lounge in North Park and some traditional savoy vegetarian options at Brew Bar Chula Vista.

For custom orders, please email us at hello@moonmilkbaking.co. For local pickup for orders is at Brew Bar, Chula Vista. To stay informed about all the latest news, updates, and exclusive perks, become a free member of the Moon Dulce Club by visiting our web page at www.moonmilkbaking.co and joining our mailing list.

What matters most to you? Why?
Creating balance, authenticity, and consciousness through the work I do. Creating a positive force in this universe and a compelling, impactful legacy for myself, my family, and my community.

Pricing:

  • Dozen Vegan Cookies starting $24
  • Assorted Individual Pastries (pop-ups/events) starting at $3
  • Custom Cakes starting at $45
  • Custom desserts(s) dozen starting at $24

Contact Info:

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