MISSION -- Like any entrepreneur, Pilar Gonzalez started from the bottom. 

What began as a project in her kitchen eventually grew into a successful small business over the past several years. Now, Dip it by Pilar, a series of yogurt-based savory dips, can be found on the shelves of nearly 250 H-E-B stores statewide and, soon, in the grocery stores of Mexico.

It’s this type of growth and success that recently made Pilar a finalist out of five other women for the Stacy’s Rise Project by PepsiCo, a national award that supports female-founded businesses. Dip it by Pilar is the first Mission-based business to receive this type of recognition, and Gonzalez couldn’t be anymore proud.

“I feel like I’m in a dream,” Gonzalez said. “This is a great opportunity for us to grow our business, to create new venues, and most of all create new ways to give more opportunities and give new jobs in our community.”

Despite having been named for such a prestigious award, this isn’t Gonazalez’s first time winning a contest. She was able to start her business through the Mission Economic Development Corporation's Ruby Red Ventures program, a small business fund that promotes innovative business in Mission. Gonzalez entered twice and won both times, receiving $50,000 from the program. With Stacy’s Rise Project, Gonzalez will be receiving $100,000 plus mentorship from PepsiCo advisors.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Gonazlez stated she was proud to be from Mission and thanked her community for their endless support. City officials, such as City Manager Randy Perez and Mission EDC CEO Daniel Silva. They both recognized Gonazlez for her hard work and success, as well as H-E-B’s Senior Public Affairs Specialist, Yvonne Loflin. They all praised Gonzalez for being a role model, not only for female entrepreneurs, but the entire business community. 

“It is such an honor to have entrepreneurs from Mission representing the city and females from the region.” Perez said. 

For Gonzalez, the excitement has only begun. Though her business formally began in 2016, she is looking forward to learning new insight to help Dip it grow. Most importantly, she is looking forward to being in a position where she can empower business women everywhere -- especially those in the Rio Grande Valley. She believes that women in any form of business should stand up for what they believe in, and if they’re shot down, then keep moving forward.

“Never take no for an answer,” Gonzalez said when asked what her message to female entrepreneurs was. “If you have a dream and you want to make it possible and somebody tell you it’s not possible, go ask somebody else until you get a yes.”