“I take inspiration to come up with new recipes wherever I go. One of my popular creations, as a proud LGBT member, is my ‘Rainbow Alfajor,’ which was inspired by San Francisco itself,” says Patricia Narciso, who emigrated from Peru 18 years ago in search of opportunity.
Patricia’s love of alfajores began as a child. Her beloved mother used to sell the dessert as a vendor on the streets of their hometown, using a traditional, mouthwatering recipe that combines dulce de leche sprinkled with powdered sugar. Additionally, Patricia would while away the hours enthralled by pastry chefs on television.
The journey to MEDA for Patricia began around the need to find affordable and stable housing. Living in less-than-ideal conditions, she started working with MEDA’s Community Initiatives Manager Dairo Romero. He explained the City’s DAHLIA process, overseen by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD). A determined Patricia then used her cell phone to apply to numerous below-market-rate (BMR) housing lotteries. Patricia was thrilled when she learned she had drawn number six for a new development in SoMa, where she now resides in a studio she can call home.
But Patricia’s client journey with MEDA didn’t stop there.
During the affordable-housing process, one day Patricia brought Romero a thank-you treat: one of her homemade alfajores. After tasting the melt-in-your-mouth treat, Romero queried Patricia about her budding business model for Alfajores Narciso, explaining how MEDA could help with a two-pronged strategy of personal Financial Capability and Business Development. The former translated to Patricia heading on the right path of building personal credit; while the latter meant technical assistance via one-on-one coaching and the creation of a comprehensive marketing plan. Aware that her alfajores — both the classic version, emulating her mother’s recipe, and the ones with a twist, based on Patricia’s unique creativity — could compete in the much-wider market of Bay Area food lovers, Patricia applied for a mini-grant of $5,000 from the San Francisco Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund (SFWEF). This initiative is run by a partnership of MEDA and the City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD). Since launched in March 2018, SFWEF has disbursed 29 grants totaling $145,000 — all to female-owned small businesses in San Francisco.
In her application, Patricia told of how she wanted to scale her business, which is currently focused on San Francisco only, and fairly close to her home: Her bigger plans have been delayed because she does not own a vehicle, meaning she delivers her product via public transit.
“I am excited to have been offered the mini-grant from the SFWEF Committee. I will immediately use this money for the down payment on a 2016 Ford Transit Connect Cargo. This will make such a difference for my business,” says Patricia.
There’s no stopping her now. Patricia’s offerings already run the gamut from corporate gifts to wedding treats to birthday party desserts. She has also created an online presence for ordering.
When asked about a five year plan, Patricia states that she wants to have a brick-and-mortar space for a bakery, with two employees to help out the hardworking business owner, who now usually works every day of the week just to meet her loyal customers’ orders.
“My bakery will still be centered around alfajores, but I want to complement my offerings with the many flavors of Latin American desserts. Es mi sueño (That is my dream),” concludes Patricia.