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Celebrating National Women in Small Business Month, This Escondido Native Dreams Big for Herself and Fellow Female Makers and Creators

Escondido entrepreneur Mei Bautista embodies the motto, “Don’t quit your daydream.” She owns Daydream on Grand Avenue. The City of Escondido celebrates National Women in Small Business month and Bautista is a shining example of how female entrepreneurs are running business on their own terms and helping each other follow their dreams. 

Pre-COVID-19 - Mei Bautista (center) holds her shop dog Stacy with employees Tara Mueller and Selena Reycasa

“What if you could make your daydream your day job?” she said. “That’s the phrase that inspired me to name my store Daydream.” The quote is painted on the wall in her store to inspire customers too.

Mei Bautista’s inspirational quote painted on the wall in her shop

Her own inspirational daydream hit her in a most unusual way. Bautista, who grew up in Escondido, had just moved back from San Francisco last year and was working as the lead server at Mikko Sushi. One day, on a lunch break, she noticed the space next door had a vacancy. Bautista was the first person to inquire about it and, before she knew it, she was offered the space to rent. 

That was June 1. 

“And then it all happened so quickly,” said Bautista. By July 1, Bautista opened the doors to Daydream, a 50-square-foot boutique shop that sells unique gifts made by local Escondido artists and makers. “We have stickers, t-shirts, jewelry, wall art, plants, plant accessories, and pet supplies.” 

The timing for Bautista was also beneficial since the opening of her store came as businesses were allowed to open again, after the pandemic shutdown. Daydream has been a welcomed new shop in the neighborhood, as first-time customers are quickly becoming regulars. “I am constantly getting new things; that’s the fun thing about working with artists and makers, they are always creating new things,” she said. “It’s a completely new experience for people, whether they come in once a week or once a month.”

The “support local, shop local” vibe is also something that Bautista hopes her customers will embrace. “I really tried to make my place a one-stop gift shop where people can not only find unique items, but also locally made by local artists.”

In the spirit of Halloween, Daydream decked out its store in festive decor and merchandise

Included in her gift offerings is a subscription box. For $40, customers get a box of themed gift items, worth over $100. Members can subscribe in four, six, or 12-month options. October’s gift box is filled with fall and Halloween-themed items, such as a Halloween mask, a reusable bottle, an enamel werewolf pin, and much more.

“In November, we’re doing a theme of ‘Gratitude and Giving’,” she said. “I’m looking for a local non-profit to partner with and will donate a percentage of the box sales.” Bautista added that the artists in this subscription package will include locals who also help promote giving in their businesses. Most of the local artists and makers who are featured at Daydream are women. “I would say 99% of my shop carries women-owned businesses, mostly women of color, which is really exciting,” she said.

Promoting women is important to Bautista because she knows firsthand how difficult it can be to balance work and life. “I’m actually a stepmother. So I have to manage running a business and a family,” she said, adding that helping support women will both help them move forward in business, and also inspire young female makers.

“I have a few vendors who are still in high school. These young girls are really motivated and inspired by all the women entrepreneurs they are meeting. And it’s great because together we are inspiring a whole generation of young women entrepreneurs,” Bautista said.

Mentoring teenagers is Bautista’s way of giving back. As a child, Bautista was very poor and it was because of the services in Escondido, especially COMPACT, an Escondido organization that promotes workforce development for teenagers, that she was steered in a positive direction. “I got to participate in a lot of internships and volunteering in Escondido. I was inspired by the people. Now getting to be that person who helps other people here in Escondido is really rewarding,” she said.

There is also a sense of pride for those living and working in Escondido. Thanks to her boyfriend, Thomas Alaniz, who is a tattoo artist at Escondido Tattoo Studio, she sells that pride too. Alaniz’s Escondido stickers and t-shirts are sold in Daydream. “The stickers have been selling really well,” she said. “I just want to continue promoting the proud culture of our community.”

“It’s a beautiful town. I feel like it’s a close-knit community, especially with the business owners,” she added. 

Although it's a young shop, Daydream has already amassed a fanbase of regulars that frequent the store

Bautista is grateful that the business community made it so easy to open her store in Escondido. “The city was extremely helpful and they’ve been supportive,” she said.

One of her supporters has been Amber Tarrac, Escondido’s Deputy Director of Economic Development. “When Mei had questions about starting her business here in Escondido, she came to the City’s Economic Development team for guidance and support. We are always happy to help,” Tarrac said. “We are inspired to see a number of businesses like this that have opened during a pandemic - this is a true testament to the resilience of the Escondido community.”  Prospective and existing business owners are invited to connect with the City’s Economic Development resources on the City’s website here, sign up for the monthly business newsletter here, email us at, or call us at 760-839-4587.

Despite uncertainties, Bautista has stayed positive throughout the pandemic. “I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to start a business during a pandemic, because my goal is to show people that you can do whatever you want; you just have to figure it out.”

Daydream is located at 233 East Grand Avenue. Shop online at 

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