Gift leads to Innovate Food Businesses

Mirna Davis

When Mirna Elizabeth Davis received a 30 pound box of pecans as a gift, she never imagined that gift would grow into two pioneering food businesses.

Davis owner of Nuts and Cows since 2015 and a mother of two began making pecan pralines as holiday gifts.  After receiving positive feedback from family and friends she decided to try her pecan creations at the local farmer’s market under Cottage Law. 

With an initial investment of $89, Ms. Davis began selling healthier versions of unhealthy snacks such as a pecan pie with 40% less sugar, double the pecans in a lightly sugared filling as well as vegan pecan products and natural, sugar free, no additive pecan butter.

“The result was amazing. My first weekend selling, I sold mostly pecan pies to Winter Texans. Then each weekend starting in September, I sold 135 pecan pies to Winter Texans. I was busy baking all week. I baked so much that now I like baking,” Davis said.

As demand for her products increased, Davis knew she had to expand operations.  She envisioned a commercial kitchen but, were her sales enough to support such an investment?

This is when she turned to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to assist with a well-organized business plan. In addition, the technical assistance and guidance provided helped her articulate her business idea of not only opening a commercial kitchen to create her pecan treats but the innovative idea of an incubator kitchen to help other underserved businesses. As a result, her business plan and idea helped her win a grant from the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.

With the grant funds, a $5,000 dollar investment from a friend and a $5,000 loan from Lift Fund, Ms. Davis opened Mi Cocina by The Hour LLC.

Mi Cocina by The Hour LLC is a licensed and certified commercial kitchen rented by the hour to help small entrepreneurs in the food industry properly begin.  “I remember seeing a food vendor at the farmers market being asked to stop selling her products because it wasn’t being manufactured in a licensed commercial kitchen,” Davis stated.

To present, Mi Cocina by The Hour LLC has been able to pay its expenses and help other businesses start and grow.  “Honestly, without Mi Cocina and Ms. Davis’ business advice, the dream of producing my salsas, would have been only that,” Janet Lopez, Owner, Salsas Fiera said.

Davis continues to volunteer at the local farmer’s market and now appears on Spanish TV news segments inspiring and advising small business owners from her experience.

“Failure was never an option.  Hard work, good decisions, and great people in my path made Nuts and Cows and Mi Cocina by The Hour LLC possible,” Davis said.

In May 2016, Mirna Elizabeth Davis was recognized at the Lower Rio Grande Valley District’s Minority Small Business Champion of the Year.

Company Name: 
Mi Cocina by The Hour LLC
Location: 
116 S. Broadway St. McAllen, TX 78501