From Teaching to Launching a Mexican Candy Shop With 1 Million Followers, Here’s How TikTok Helped Brenda De Leon Live Out Her Dreams
Brenda De León first heard of TikTok while she was a high school teacher and her students would walk into her classroom doing the “woah” or another trendy TikTok dance. “I remember asking them, ‘what is that?’ and they would tell me all about TikTok. I had no idea what TikTok was,” De León tells mitú.
These interactions led her to create an account by the name of @leoncita.b. She first began making videos in her classroom and dancing to popular trends. It wasn’t until she posted a video of herself making her own Mexican candy recipe at home that her account blew up and went viral in October 2020. With over 1.1 million followers today, the support from her TikTok followers led her to open her own home-operated candy shop, PicaSweets by Leoncita.
“I love teaching, but my passion is cooking in the kitchen,” De León said. “When I posted that video, I was really, really excited to maybe jump into that.”
Originally from Coahuila, Mexico, De León’s artisanal candies are all inspired by her favorite Mexican sweets. Her current candy options are mazapán, jamoncillo (milk fudge), picagomitas, spicy mango lollipops, and spicy mango strawberry lollipops. Though she attended culinary school, she says she has learned a lot about cooking and candy making on her own as well as by watching other cooking content. Some are traditional recipes while others are her unique inventions.
“I’ve watched a lot of videos and I like experimenting and trying new stuff, so, and a lot of trial and error and making mistakes until I find the perfect recipe,” De León said.
Besides making videos and running her small business, De León also has to balance being a mother for her two kids, Briar, 3, and Rowan, 8 months. Finding a balance within all her responsibilities, even now that she is no longer teaching, to focus on PicaSweets, has been a challenge.
“Parents have to be really, really intentional about making time for everything and not overdoing it,” De León said. “Because at least for me, it’s really easy to just go, go, go until I find myself in not the best place when it comes to mental health.”
The support of her partner as well as prioritizing and making schedules to care for her family, her job, and herself have been key.
With the success of her shop and the constant support from her followers, De León says her goal on social media is to be as authentic as possible while inspiring others to follow their passions. Some of her most famous videos are not just about her unique tasty treats but also include a personal story time as a voiceover which has helped her followers connect with her even more.
“I want to empower people around me, to make people happy and make them smile, entertain them, and to spread as much positivity and love as possible.”
To show the great content De León has created, here are some of her tastiest and most inspiring videos. Get your sweet tooth ready because these videos will have your mouth watering.
De León shares one of her memories when she came to the United States and joined the softball team without knowing English.
Anyone who comes to the United States from Latin America without knowing English goes through many struggles to fit in and learn the language. In this video, De León shares how she almost got kicked off the softball team for not following the rules while making some spicy and fruity spoonfuls of candy.
How exactly is dulce de leche made?
Ever been curious about how exactly some of your favorite candies are made? De León walks us through how delicious jamoncillo or dulce de leche (milk fudge) is made from scratch.
PicaSweets adds a mango lollipop flavor.
Ever been craving mango with some chile? De León introduces us to a mango lollipop recipe and by the end of the video, you will be definitely craving these sweet, spicy and sour paletas.
And here’s a storytime of when De León caught a student cheating on their quiz… coupled with a decadent Spinach Artichoke dip recipe.
De León shows us the final packaging steps of her picagomitas or spicy gummy bears.
When De León makes her candy, she says she has to make it spicy. So why not add some chamoy, tamarind paste, and chile to these gummy bears and make some yummy picagomitas?
Making Mexican-inspired cucumber sushi while giving a message of empowerment for women.
In this video, De León makes cucumber sushi with ingredients traditionally used on Mexican candies while giving a message for women that starts with “be loud, and gross, and take up space.”
De León also adheres to the special requests of her followers.
Here’s a new Taco Tuesday idea. In this one, she makes a sweet taco made up of the picafresa mixture along with some veggies on top and homemade chamoy.
Improving the PicaSweets mazapán recipe and packaging.
De León shows her followers all the ins and outs of her candy-making process — from her trial and errors with recipes to taking the advice of others into consideration, as she does with this mazapán video.
To learn more about De León’s candy recipes and small business, check her out on TikTok @leoncita.b.