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Inspiring Conversations with Viviana Castellanos of Mancha’s Pawnaderia

Today we’d like to introduce you to Viviana Castellanos.

Hi Viviana, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Mancha’s Pawnaderia started during quarantine of 2020. This business had been an abstract idea living in my head for a couple of years. It sparked as my passion for animals grew while working at pet stores. Growing up and into adulthood, I have always had a love for animals, especially dogs. There has always been a family dog in my life but when I hit my 20’s, I was gifted my shih tzu Mancha. She quickly turned into my best friend and providing her with the best life possible became my top priority. While living in Los Angeles, I got a job at a pet store that also sold baked goods for dogs. Working there introduced me to a world that combined two of my favorite things, dogs and baking. I had grown up baking for friends and family on special events; always challenging my abilities to create personalized desserts. Working at the pet store brought me to the realization that I had an intense desire to create safe dog treats that look and taste amazing.

After graduating and moving back home to Chula Vista, I noticed how few pet bakeries were available, especially in South Bay. I also realized diversity amongst the types of treats available was lacking despite our greatly diverse community. Throughout my childhood, my Mexican culture and traditions were deeply ingrained into my life. One of these traditions was going to panaderias (bakeries) to get pan dulce (sweet bread). As I began brainstorming this idea of starting my own pet bakery, I knew I wanted to include those traditional breads that I grew up with in order to highlight the beauty of my culture. The conchitas, puercitos, and polvorones that I grew up eating could now be safely shared with my furry friends.

I was working at another local pet store and learning more about dog health but I was not moving forward with my business idea. Life’s mundane routine took hold of me for about a year, and then 2020 happened. Quarantine hit and I had all this free time with no more excuses to hold me back. With the full support of my family, I decided to launch Mancha’s Pawnaderia for the holiday season in October of 2020. I was elated to see the incredible amount of support I received from friends, family, and my outside community. As the business began to grow, I was able to ship out treats to LA, Northern California, Virginia, and even New Jersey.

My hope is that Mancha’s Pawnaderia continues to grow and reach dogs from all tails of life with delicious treats.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
One of my biggest obstacles was creating recipes with dog safe ingredients. Unfortunately, many products in the pet industry are marketed as safe but contain ingredients that upset many pups stomachs which is why I am dedicated to using human-grade tummy-friendly ingredients. However, traditional pan dulce includes many unsafe ingredients and finding suitable replacements required lots of trial and error. My biggest challenge has been developing treats that resemble those traditional goods while still being yummy and dog-safe.

Finding ingredients also proved to be an obstacle in itself since most places don’t sell, we’re out of stock, or back-ordered on things I needed. I am still constantly searching to find reliable sources that sell the products I need.

Burnout has also been an extreme challenge and lesson since I started this business. Finding balance between work, self-care, family, hobbies, and now friends has been difficult. At the beginning, I was working so many hours, ignoring my body, not resting, and overloading myself until I was physically and mentally unable to work. After a couple of experiences with burnout, I learned to listen to my body and the importance of rest. Although still a constant struggle, I am learning how to balance life better.

Not having an entire space dedicated to my business is a consistent challenge. I am fortunate enough to be living with my parents as I build my career but that does mean sharing communal space. Even though I do have sections of the kitchen, pantry, and my room for everything from ingredients to packaging, it does get overwhelming to not have a separate space between work and home life.

The pandemic inevitably created a whole set of challenges. The health of my customers, as well as my parents’ health, was and continues to be a top priority. Making sure everything was sanitized and socially distanced was very stressful at times. With quarantine came many struggles including the loss of a stable job which created intense pressure to be my own source of income.

As with anything new, there have been many bumps in the road but those obstacles have taught me valuable lessons that will only allow me to improve and grow from here on out. I am grateful for the struggles, triumphs, and the incredible support system I have around me.

We’ve been impressed with Mancha’s Pawnaderia, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Mancha’s Pawnaderia is focused on creating delicious dog safe baked goods. Some of the treats include seasonal cookies, pupcakes (cupcakes), birthday treats, as well as goodies inspired by traditional pan dulce (sweet bread). Dog conchitas are one of the many aspects that distinguish the pawnaderia from other pet-based bakeries. I am most proud of the different treats I have been able to develop inspired by my culture’s traditional goods. I would like my fellow San Diegans to know that Mancha’s Pawnaderia is dedicated to providing the pups of our community with yummy treats. My vision for the future is to get into local farmer’s markets, give back to my community’s pets and people, move toward a sustainable primarily plant-based business, and continue to highlight my culture. Everything is baked fresh and made to order. Our social media has all available products and is the best way to order. I am looking forward to serving all the adorable dogs of San Diego!

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you think our readers should check out?
Books that have helped in my personal growth include “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, “You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero and “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle.

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