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Small Business Highlight Piñatas el Gato felix

Displays of Wonder in Rio Grande City

Through perseverance, tenacity and faith, Viviana Martinez took $600 in savings and turned it into a successful business. Viviana Martinez has much in common with her business’s namesake. Like Felix the Cat, with his bag of tricks, the piñatas she creates display a sense of wonder and happiness for her customers not only in Rio Grande City but outside of the Rio Grande Valley as well.

How did your business idea come about?

I am a breast cancer survivor. When first diagnosed, I went to doctor’s appointments and treatments which made it very difficult to keep a work schedule. I always considered myself an active person and began to think of ways that I could work that would fit around my schedule during this time. Before moving to Rio Grande City, I had become interested in piñata making and learned by deconstructing them to their basic shapes; they can be customized into any character of choice. And with that, I was inspired to open a piñata business which enabled me to work at my own pace as I recovered.

How did you end up at your current location?

After a year of renting, I felt it was time to own my own location. After researching various areas in Rio Grande City, I knew that a location on either Avasolo or Flores Streets would suit my business’s needs and provide plenty of traffic and exposure to my storefront. Then with God’s grace, an opportunity presented itself and I was able to purchase my current location.

What challenges have you had since opening your business?

Owning a business always presents challenges. I approach each one with the intent of providing the best customer service and product. There are times when a customer is looking for a unique character or shape I have never made before and I spend time figuring out how to create it. Also, my business tends to be seasonal. During the summer, because everyone is out on vacation, I don’t receive as many orders as I would normally receive during the fall and spring. Now, I have customers from other parts of Starr County, the Rio Grande Valley and even from outside the state.

Where did the inspiration for the name come from?

I have fond memories of watching El Gato Felix (Felix the Cat) as a child. And from the lyrics in Spanish, he is “el unico gato” meaning the only one, unique, like me and my creations.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a business?

Everyone’s circumstances for starting a business are different. The advice I would give to someone wanting to start a business would be to let go of the fear of failure and believe you have what it takes to succeed. Starting is the hardest part, but once you do, you will find all your insecurities fall away.

Created By
Melinda Gomez
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Photography by Melinda Gomez

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