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Peace, Love and Chocolate

Little G's Treats

May 30, 2024

Peace. Love. Chocolate. Three simple words that are very near and dear to me. Who would have thought that with a little peace, a little love and a whole lot of chocolate I would be where I am today? My name is Gabe Garcia, a 15-year-old freshman student athlete at Roosevelt and I run Little G’s Treats, LLC with the help of my family out of my home in Windsor Heights. I started Little G’s Treats during the pandemic to stay connected to friends and family with hot cocoa bombs. Little did I know that my boredom buster would turn out to be this amazing adventure I am currently on.

Over the last four years I have had the opportunity to share my treats with people all over the state. I’ve been featured in DSM Magazine, a two-time World Food & Music Festival presenter, voted the Best Place to get Hot Cocoa Bombs by Des Moines Parent and voted Best Dessert Shop and Best Chocolate Shop by Community Votes two years in a row now. None of these achievements are better than being a part of the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Spark DSM Business Incubator Program.


Image Caption: That’s me, Little G throughout the years ... to say I’ve evolved is an understatement.

What is the Spark DSM Business Incubator Program?

The Spark DSM Business Incubator Program -owned small businesses startups like mine to grow our small businesses through involvement at events like the Downtown Farmers' Market, World Food & Music Festival presented by Veridian Credit Union, Out to Lunch and many more. It is a yearlong program designed to provide access to small businesses like mine with educational resources, resources such as small business grants, the ability to help build and raise capital and, my favorite part of the program, the ability to sell my products to the public. helps break down some of the tough barriers that many small businesses face when getting started. The Spark DSM Incubator Program is sponsored by Principal and EMC.

How Did We Get Started with Spark DSM?

I received a random DM on Instagram during the summer of 2022, expecting it to be spam bots, I was pleasantly surprised it wasn’t. (Thanks Emma!) After seeing my sweet posts (pun intended) she asked if I would like to present a recipe of my choosing that highlights my heritage at the World Food & Music Festival … and as they say the rest is history.

I was so nervous, but everyone was so supportive and loved my cheesecake churro tacos. About a week later I got a thank you card and an invitation to present the following year. This time I chose to showcase my family’s sweet tamales recipe. After my second year of presenting, I received an email a couple of weeks later from the Spark DSM organizer that year asking if I would like to join Spark DSM and be a vendor at the Downtown Farmers’ Market. Fast forward to less than a month later to September 2023 and I was planning for one of my BIGGEST events yet, the Downtown Farmers’ Market presented by UnityPoint Health – Des Moines. Spark DSM helped ease my anxiety by having my space all set up. All I had to do was show up with our delicious treats and have fun.  

Photo caption: Pretending not to be nervous, but I definitely was. It paid off! For being almost 90 degrees, I almost sold out.

After my first event was completed, I was ready to take on more. Spark reached out and asked if I wanted to participate in the Downtown Winter Market. Of course, I said yes. Being a full-time student athlete, I only expected and planned to be at the Winter Market on that Sunday, but they reached out on that Thursday asking me if I could participate on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. With me being a full-time student athlete, I could not do Friday, because school comes first according to my parents. I knew that I could do both Saturday and Sunday without sacrificing my grades with the planning and preparing of the treats. So, I told my contact that I was able to do Saturday and Sunday and crossed my fingers, said a prayer to the god of sweets, my ancestors and just hoped for the best. The Winter Market was by far one of the most fun experiences I have had throughout my time in business. They were both very long days, but Spark DSM has made it easy for businesses like mine to be a vendor at all of the Markets we’ve attended so far. They have removed barriers such as booth costs and set up a space for me to grow my business.

Photo caption: Day 1 of the Winter Market. I ended up selling out of a lot of my inventory by Day 2.

This program and event also allowed me to meet so many people and network with other vendors. This has been by far one of the most valuable things that being under the Spark DSM program provides. Not only do I get to share my treats and make people smile, but I also get to connect with other small business owners as well. They say Philly is the city of brotherly love, but I feel that Des Moines is the city of kindness. Everyone we have worked with through Spark DSM with has been willing and open to adjust to meet my needs as a young entrepreneur. The small business owners I have been lucky enough to meet along the way have provided immense knowledge of all the ups and downs of running a business. Side note: many of these small business owners had no idea who I was or what I do, but they were all willing to share their tips and tricks and giving me a chance to do what I love doing. Thank you to German Taste, Nixon & Norman, Cajun Belle, Blaise Training, AJ’s Catering, Daisy Chain Coffee, Storyhouse BookPub, RayGun and many more.

Fast forward to this Spring, we have had the opportunity to be a vendor at the opening day of the Downtown Farmers’ Market! Even with the rain delay we still managed to have a blast. The Spark DSM crew not only kept us safe but got everything set up for us to sell in record time. The following week I got to ring the opening bell for the Market and most recently filled in when another vendor wasn’t able to make it. This shows how Spark DSM has given me the opportunity to market my sweets but the exposure I have been given through this program is truly priceless. Without the exposure, connections, networking and removing the red tape that many small businesses face while trying to launch their own business I’m not too sure where we would be at without Spark DSM helping us grow along the way.

How Has Spark DSM Helped?

Besides the obvious — getting a booth and set up free of charge to sell my products — Spark DSM has helped my business grow monetarily and given me a platform to showcase what small businesses can achieve when removing some of the obstacles many small businesses owners face. Spark DSM has given me, a 15-year-old student-athlete, a chance … a chance to show Iowa what you can create with a little peace, a little love and a whole lot of chocolate, regardless of your age. This program has given me access to countless opportunities and tools to help guide me on where to go for resources for small businesses, and the most priceless tool I have been given through this program is exposure. Exposure to what it takes to run a small business. Exposure to networking with other small businesses and exposure to the public.

Where Do We Go From Here?

It’s a question I ask myself weekly if not daily as I’m figuring out how I want my business to grow and evolve. I am thankful for my family and for everyone I’ve worked with through the Spark DSM program. I am fortunate enough to be under the incubator program until mid-September this year, and I am lucky enough to be booked with events until mid-August. During this time, I hope to make many more connections with not only new and old customers but also with other vendors, attend small business events such as the Small Business Summit, taking place on Monday, June 10, and utilize the educational resources available to small business owners, like me, through Spark DSM. If you come down to the Downtown Farmers’ Market, be sure to stop and say hi to any and all the Spark DSM vendors set up at 3rd Street and Court Avenue. You won’t regret it, and it will definitely make their day! My goal one day soon is to take Little G’s Treats to the streets with a mobile dessert truck, and with Spark DSM behind me, I know that will make this goal easier to achieve. I just need to get my driver’s license first!

Remember with a little peace, a little love and a little chocolate, you can solve just about anything. From asking my mom at 10 years old if we could make hot cocoa bombs during the pandemic lockdowns to now, this journey has been a pretty sweet one to be on to say the least.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership celebrates the Greater Des Moines (DSM) entrepreneur community and helps small businesses succeed with one-of-a-kind resources and opportunities for networking. Find out how other entrepreneurs have found success by reading their stories and attending local small business events in the region.

Gabe Garcia

Gabe Garcia is the Owner and Founder of Little G’s Treats in Windsor Heights, Iowa.