International Bakery: A Prime Example of Mindset and Influence
Throughout this series of stories, we’ve seen that the biggest commonality among the business owners with whom we’ve had the privilege of speaking with is their mindset. And though “mindset” is an overly used word in today’s world of aspiring entrepreneurs, it is easier to understand when you take a look at the lives of people who’ve been doing business for a long time that one’s mindset can indeed make or break us in the world of business.
For this segment of our Latino Entrepreneurship Stories, we got to speak with Jose Gonzalez, owner of International Bakery in Elkhart, IN. Immediately upon beginning the conversation with Gonzalez, we were able to notice that his visionary mentality is what has allowed him to do business for almost thirteen years now. Similar to the founder of Mariscos Don Miguel (our previous feature), Gonzalez and his wife lived in Chicago before they decided to make a move to Elkhart.
“My wife and I would travel back and forth from Chicago a lot. Every time we’d come here I’d leave with the same idea, ‘there aren’t very many Latino-owned bakeries in this town, I could start one of the first ones’”.
As any other practical entrepreneur would do, Gonzalez turned this idea into actions, acquired a space to work out of and for about 8 months after the acquisition of his space, he worked endlessly to build up the space and make sure everything was up to code so he could officially be open for business. “For the first 8 to 9 months, I did not see my family too much. I moved to Elkhart while my family stayed in Chicago because I did not want to bring them with me until I had something stable to provide them with. This was one of my biggest motivations”.
In October of 2005, International Bakery was officially open for business and ever since their grand opening; the bakery has been most well known for their specialty in cakes. As our interview with Jose went on, as asked him, “why a bakery”?
“I have many passion but my major ones are baking, martial arts, and mechanical engineering. When I first got serious about wanting to open a business, I asked my wife, what do you think our business should be? Out of opening a bakery, starting a martial arts school or opening a mechanical engineering shop, my wife thought a bakery would be a better choice as she told me, ‘having a bakery would allow me to be able to help you a lot more than any of the other options’”.
Outside of having seen the opportunity of there not being very many Latino-owned bakeries in the area at the time, the word’s of his wife made Jose even more confident that opening a bakery would work as he’d have the support of the biggest love of his life.
As our conversation with Jose continued, we discussed what he believes are the biggest keys to achieving success not only in a business aspect but in life overall. Jose responded that in his personal opinion, it is all about who and what you surround yourself with.
“When I was younger I made some bad decisions in life. And though ultimately, I take responsibility for them, a big factor in the decisions I made were the people I surrounded myself with. Now that I’m older, I try to surround myself with the right people as being around positive, supportive, ambitious people is contagious and it propels you to want to become a better person overall”.
Jose went on to further explain that in order for one to reach any form of success, we must also have an unwavering belief in oneself. He took us back to when he was a child and witnesses his parents working so much that they often did not spend much time at home. “At a young age I told myself when I grew up I’d find a way to work less and make more, that I’d find a way to build something for my family”.
As a business operator, it’s hard to always stay positive and optimistic considering the rollercoaster-like journey that is entrepreneurship. In this regard, Jose told us that one of the biggest keys for him in maintaining his overall wellness is physical activity. Having told us about his passion for martial arts earlier in the interview, Jose told us that had it not been for the disciple that martial arts taught him and the physical endurance that he acquired through practicing martial arts, he’s not sure he'd be going as strong today.
“I believe that physical endurance translates into mental endurance, both of which are in my opinion critical when running a business. As business owners, you don’t have time to get tired, and if your body nor your mind are capable of handling that, you don’t have a high chance of going far”.
Looking back at his own journey Jose told us he feels proud of what he’s accomplished but looks forward to he has yet to accomplish. As a father of three, Jose says one of his biggest missions today is to motivate and inspire our youth.
“We live in a beautiful land of opportunity where one can literally accomplish whatever we put our minds to. Many times, we just don’t have the information or the resources to think big and I want to diminish that for our youth. I want to serve our leaders of tomorrow, I want to help motivate and inspire them to utilize their talents to make our world a better one”.
Jose further explained to us that he doesn’t think success is some kind of luxury only some can aspire to reach but rather “those who become successful are those you believe they can become successful”. I want to help our youth believe they can be successful because they can, we all can”.
The journey of the Jose Gonzalez began in El Salvador. A young child playing marbles on the streets to make money grew into a businessman working to make his dreams a reality and help others do the same along the way. Jose wrapped up the interview with the following quote:
“To be a good business owner and a good person overall, you must always be willing to listen. Opportunities come from listening, resolutions come from listening, self-discovering come from listening; as practical advice to anyone who may read this, pay more attention to how well you listen rather than how well you speak”.