Owner Norma Zuniga opened Dulce (pronounced dool-seh) Dreams as a pop-up bakery last December. Less than a year later, she quit her job as a lab technician to pursue her pastry-making passion full-time.
Between the lines: Zuniga, a Mexican-born Charlottean, taught herself how to bake her signature dishes by watching YouTube videos. Now, her side hustle is her full-time career. “I’m really nervous and scared,” she told me, “but I’m really excited.”
The big picture: Nearly one in four new businesses in the U.S. are Hispanic-owned, according to the Small Business Alliance. Charlotte has seen this boom firsthand, especially in the restaurant industry, with new restaurants like Cuban-owned El Puro and Venezuelan-owned Los Chamos opening up in the last year, to name a few.
Flashback: Zuniga immigrated to Charlotte from Mexico when she was five years old. She graduated from Johnson C. Smith University with a degree in biology and never expected to become a baker.
- “I didn’t have any [pastry-making] role models growing up or anything like that,” Zuniga told me, adding that the only other Latina baker she knows is Cris from the Batchmaker.
- Zuniga hopes to inspire other Latinas looking to start their own businesses. “If they really want something, they can do it.”
What to expect: Conchas (a Mexican sweet bread in the shape of a sea shell) of various flavors and colors, baked individually and as sweet sandwiches.
- Ube pastries, made from a purple yam from the Philippines.
- Tres leches cheesecake made with conchas and ube.
- Mexican coffee with different flavors like marzipan.
- Cafe de olla, a different type of Mexican coffee made with cinnamon and clove.
- And atole, which is traditional hot corn and masa-based beverage.
Details: Zuniga operates Dulce Dreams out of Sweet Spot Studio in Oakhurst.
- Pre-orders are available for pick-up and Zuniga posts her availability (which she’s about to increase) on the Dulce Dreams Cafe Instagram.
- Zuniga also participates at local pop-ups and posts where she’ll be ahead of time on her Instagram as well.
What’s next: Zuniga says her goal is to open a brick-and-mortar eventually.