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Entrepreneur Natalia Toccoli: Something Dolce to Offer Everyone

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Written by Ann E. Butenas

Hair by Alicia Morrison @aemstylist
Makeup by Shannon Meder of

“You know you’re Italian when you use a pizza cutter to cut brownies.”

That’s the assertion of up-and-coming entrepreneur and bakery owner Natalia Toccoli. As owner of the boutique bakery Something Dolce, Natalia knows a thing or two about brownies, bars, cake pops and all sorts of delectable baked goods. However, she never would have acquired such wisdom without a dash of laughter, a pinch of patience and a heaping helping of faith.

Born and raised in Stockton, California, Natalia’s local roots run deep and wide. It is the stability of those roots that has anchored her as she has navigated her career path over the past few years. After graduating from the University of San Diego with a degree in marketing, she hit the ground running. Her first job out of the collegiate gates was as a consultant for her sorority. She enjoyed traveling around the country for a year to work with different chapters of the organization.

During that year, Natalia was struck with the idea that perhaps she should earn her MBA. Without hesitation, she enrolled in the University of the Pacific, completing a full-time accelerated MBA program. She took a job at Duraflame, formerly headquartered in Stockton, working as a digital marketing specialist for about 18 months. When Duraflame decided to move its headquarters to another state, Natalia had the option to relocate with them but chose instead to steer her ambitions in another direction.

A Clear View
“I’ve always loved to bake,” she said. “I started in high school, baking alongside my mom, who has always been a big baker. I would make brownies for my girlfriends whenever they came over and love to give baked goods as gifts to family and friends.”

No stranger to hard work, Natalia easily transitioned into the entrepreneurial line of thinking, fueled by passion, ambition and a commitment to be of service to others. During a global pandemic that has adversely impacted many businesses of all types and sizes, Natalia took this big leap of faith to pursue her dream, learning through the process that the rearview mirror is smaller than the windshield for a reason. “It was a difficult decision for me not to relocate with my job at the time, but the five months I was unemployed during the past year not only gave me a bit of down time but also gave me the nudge I needed to start my bakery. Had it not been for that and the pandemic, I might never have made the change,” she emphasized.

Because she was in between jobs, Natalia knew she had little to lose and everything to gain, so she began researching how to start her own business, ensuring she followed all the proper legal steps. Once those steps were taken, she then focused on developing her menu. Currently baking out of her home kitchen, Natalia avoids the added pressure of high overhead expenses. Her customers place orders directly through her and everything is freshly made to order.

Sweet Vision
Landing upon a name for her new business did take a bit of strategic thinking, however, because so many of the Instagram handles for this niche had been taken. Proud of her Italian roots, she wanted to incorporate the word “dolce” into her company name. By the time she played with a few words, she brought the decidedly perfect Something Dolce to the spotlight. “Dolce means ‘sweet’ in Italian, so I thought it was a perfect name,” reflected Natalia.

Bringing her MBA business acumen to the foreground, Natalia began to put even more wheels in motion on her bakery idea, reveling in the excitement of becoming her own boss and running her own company. “As a business owner, you work more hours than you would work at a traditional job, as you are having to work on it around your other work hours, and you are always thinking about it, even when you are lying in bed at night.”

To that end, Natalia currently works her day job in the marketing department for a local company, which she began last fall, and when she returns home at the end of the day, she switches gears and focuses on the acceleration of her business. Her goal is to eventually pursue her passion full time, but she realizes it will take baby steps to reach that horizon. She understands such endeavors take not only a lot of time and patience, but also appreciable sweat equity. “I think it will probably take me a couple of years to reach my goal of operating this business full time,” she indicated.

Natalia was all gas and no brakes over the recent holiday season, baking as soon as she got home from work and not easing up until the wee hours of the morning. However, she affirmed that every bit of her effort, inspiration and dedication was worth it; she doesn’t hold back when it comes to giving credit where credit is due, especially when it comes to her rising prominence within her community. “I attribute most of my success to being well connected here,” she emphasized. “I enjoy being able to serve my community and greatly appreciate their support of me. It is my wish to continue serving my community.”

A Big Assist
One of her first and biggest commercial clients was Bank of Stockton. “Angela Brusa, vice president, marketing director, placed an order for 42 dozen goods to celebrate a new branch opening of the bank in Lodi last October,” said Natalia. That was the impetus that allowed her bakery to gain considerable velocity, as word of mouth soon became a primary means of marketing strategy for her.

“I worked a lot over the holidays,” Natalia noted, further enhancing her skills and developing her core menu, which features five types of cookies: chocolate chip, S’mores, snickerdoodles, oatmeal and peanut butter cup. During the holidays she introduced the seasonal favorite, chocolate crinkle cookies. She also specializes in blondie bars and brownies, as well as cake pops, available in chocolate, vanilla and funfetti. This year, she plans to introduce a treat of the month, rolling out a special goodie just for that month, such as cinnamon rolls or German chocolate cake bars. “You just never know what I will offer,” she grinned. “I’ll just keep you on your toes.”

Natalia credits her business and marketing background for helping her understand the foundations of owning a business. “You might be an excellent chef, baker or florist, but without understanding marketing, you won’t have clients. I took a food photography course to learn how to make my photos more appealing and appetizing, and I also work with a local photographer, Sydney Sturgeon, to create
my images.”

Natalia’s passion for what she does is undeniable, but at the end of the day, she understands it is still a business. “Before I even thought about launching, I took a pricing class to make sure I correctly priced my items,” she indicated. “As a business owner, you are the accountant, marketer, producer and more. You have to take the initiative to learn how to do things to stay on top of those areas. If you are going into a small business, it is not just about your passion but it is also your business.”

Staying Grounded
Natalia encouraged others who wish to begin their own business to pursue their dreams but proceed with caution. “It sounds cliché, but it is okay to follow your heart and your passion,” she expressed. “However, I also have a full-time job right now to pay the bills while I grind and grow this business.”

Natalia has found her passion in baking and enjoys having her own business and creating her own schedule. “Baking is very therapeutic for me and also provides that creative outlet I need,” she asserted. “I love to make people happy, and if I can make money doing what I love, then that is the best of both worlds,” she smiled.

When not building her business, Natalia enjoys spending time with family and friends, shopping, traveling, exercising and spending time at the beach. However, she always goes back to that which means the most to her: relationships. “Without people who mean so much to you, life is nothing,” she asserted. “That is really what it is all about to me.”

Something Dolce offers local pickup and delivery services in San Joaquin County. Natalia hopes to begin selling her goods at local grocery stores and coffee shops next year. As she eyes the future, she aspires to be in a position to accept online orders for shipping and eventually to have a brick-and-mortar store with a café.

Until then, she continues to hone her craft and delight the tastebuds of all her fans. Natalia has created the perfect recipe for continued success, with optimism as the main ingredient. “I believe in nothing but good things to come,” she reflected. ■