In the News

NAWBO Iowa Business Institute Q&A – Mariela Maya and Katie Wold

NAWBO Iowa officially launched its Business Institute on July 14, 2020, with nine participants. The first cohort will meet monthly through January 2021, with the end goal to create a Growth Action Plan. Every month, we will highlight two members of the NAWBO Iowa Business Institute in a Q&A format. For more information about the Business Institute, click here.


Mariela Maya

Mariela owns Panka Peruvian Restaurant, which serves traditional Peruvian cuisine in Central Iowa. She opened the modern-yet-traditional restaurant in Des Moines’ thriving Ingersoll Avenue business district in 2019.

What is your background?

I am originally from Lima, Peru. I came to the United States 18 years ago with my daughter. I worked in the hotel and hospitality industry for five years, and then I got my real estate license. I practiced real estate in Rockford, Ill., until I moved to Des Moines one and a half years ago to open Panka. I have three children — 20, 16 and 14 years old.

I always wanted to open a restaurant. In Peru, getting together and sharing food is an important part of our culture. My mom loved to cook, and my sisters have all opened their own restaurants around the world. I love being around people and sharing my roots through food.

What is your business?

I own Panka Peruvian Restaurant. We serve traditional Peruvian cuisine, which is a mix of flavors and dishes from South America, China, Europe and West Africa. Because I am from Lima, which is on the coast, we serve a lot of seafood. But we have pasta, rice, other meats and even vegan options, too. We also serve chicha morada, a traditional drink made from purple corn.

I am always at the restaurant. I love to go to every table and talk with customers and make them feel special. I like to make them feel like family like we do in Peru and to tell them about the Peruvian culture and food.

Right now with the pandemic, it is very hard. We still have sit-down meals on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and we offer patio seating. We follow safety procedures, and we are only operating at 50% capacity. We also do takeout, and we are trying to promote more with a new website as it reduces our costs when we cannot be open.

What do you hope to gain from the NAWBO Iowa Business Institute?

I want to grow my business and open more locations. To achieve this, I need to be more organized in my business.  I hope to build a business model and do more with marketing so I can follow a defined path and grow my restaurant business.


Katie Wold

Katie owns a trio of businesses, as well as business suites for local entrepreneurs and artists, in a historical building in downtown Mason City. Market 124 features locally-made artisan wares, gifts and décor. In addition, Turtle Creek Pottery and Three on the Tree Coffee Shop offer locals and guests a chance to be creative and unwind.

What is your background?

I am from Greene, Iowa, a small town outside Mason City. Like many Iowa kids, I swore I would never return to Iowa as an adult. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Montana State University and living in the Pacific Northwest, I decided to come back home and create the kind of place that I didn’t see when I was growing up.

What is your business?

I started Turtle Creek Pottery in 2006 to create and sell my own pottery, as well as offer a paint-your-own-pottery studio to the public. I realized I had a chance to provide creative opportunities to others by opening Market 124 in downtown Mason City.

Market 124 is a local favorite that offers a unique shopping experience. We sell original artwork, décor, apparel and home goods that showcase the rich creative heritage of northern Iowans. We purchased a building on the National Registry of Historic Places and have worked hard to preserve our space (renovating the building in the off hours). We strive to be a vital part of the community by providing a place to make lasting memories, supporting local, and saving a historic building for future generations.

In September, I opened Three on the Tree, a full-service coffee shop with homemade bakery items. The atmosphere and name are true to the history of the building which was once a car dealership.

It really is a combination of all three businesses that make Market 124 work. We are able to offer a unique space where people can spend quality time with family and friends while also being part of our community.

What do you hope to gain from the NAWBO Iowa Business Institute?

I am always looking for an opportunity to learn, and I love being around other business owners. I am hoping to connect with others and be part of sharing knowledge and experiences so we can grow.


NAWBO Iowa thrives on its corporate sponsors in support of the organization and its programs/events. The NAWBO Business Institute would like to thank the following in-kind sponsors.

  • 1809 Design
  • Chocolate Storybook
  • Kenworthy Law
  • Miller, Zimmerman & Evans
  • On Point Strategies