CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – During Hispanic Heritage Month, Queen City News is highlighting the people and businesses that make up Charlotte’s diverse and vibrant cultures.
One of those businesses is inside a Charlotte kitchen, where a small business owner whips up treats for some very picky customers.
They say baking is a science full of exact ratios to make the perfect cookie or cake.
However, in Jocelyn Pineda’s case, it’s all about a feeling to make sure these treats are just right.
“Just as time went on, I feel like I just got better,” Pineda said.
After all, her confections are going to the most discerning of customers.
Pineda is the owner of Treats by Marisol, a human-grade, all-natural, gourmet dog bakery in Charlotte. Her Golden Doodle, Rocky, is the Chief Treat Tester.
Pineda has always loved baking and was trying to run an in-home operation making treats for humans when the idea for something different came along.
“Actually, it was my boyfriend’s idea to start a dog bakery,” she explained. “The day that he suggested it, I threw the biggest fit. I said, ‘Are you crazy? I don’t think I can do this; I don’t even know what dogs eat.’“
Pineda probably felt that way because her background is in social work, a career she held for more than eight years.
“I found my true passion late, but I found it,” she smiled.
Since that day in 2021, she’s certainly figured things out, now making elaborate custom cakes, cupcakes, and cookies and cranking out themed releases and subscription boxes.
“I’m smiling right now because I can just think of all the situations when people have picked up the cakes, and I mean, I’ve had several clients who almost shed a tear. Honestly, it’s crazy,” she said.
As it turns out, being an entrepreneur is in Pineda’s blood.
She said, “My parents were also small business owners, but unfortunately, they had to leave their small businesses to come to the U.S. and give us a better life and be able to get us to college, so that wasn’t something they could have pursued.”
It’s one reason why Pineda is proud to represent her Guatemalan heritage through her baking and by supporting other Latino-owned businesses.
“I want to be seen; I want to be heard. I want to show people that Latinos are really hard-working and we are so capable of a lot of things,” she said. “That’s not only representing just myself, but my family, my friends, just showcasing the beautiful culture that we have.”
Pineda said she’s really been able to leverage the power of social media to her advantage.
“I feel like Instagram has really played a big part as to growing my following. Usually, when I have events, I have people follow me and check me out there. People see all the pictures of the cakes that I do, and it just kind of gets people excited,” she said. “It also has helped me extend my products like all over the U.S. I’ve shipped to Puerto Rico, Kansas, Iowa, and a lot of other states.”
As people scroll through Pineda’s social media feed of carefully curated treats and happy dogs, she wants you to know it hasn’t been a cakewalk.
“I’ve had people trying to put me down, but it’s just hard to not let that get to you on a personal level, you know?” she said.
There have been other barriers for her, too.
“For me, it has been the color of my skin; it has been English being my second language. I think it’s always been a barrier for me. Just showcasing people that, you know, I can do what somebody else can do,” she said.
It’s a learning curve she’s happy to be on, so she can pave the road for other Latinas to take their own leap of faith.
“I will encourage them until – like from day one. I have a lot of small businesses who are Latin-owned, and they just have been such an inspiration to me, being a Latina and working a full-time business,” Pineda said. “I mean, it’s a dream.”
You can find Pineda’s treats on her website.
She also has a booth at Front Porch Sundays in South End, Charlotte, where you can pick up treats in person.