The Unidos en Éxito: Latinx Small Business Panel + Mixer was a dynamic and insightful evening celebrating entrepreneurship, culture, and purpose. The event featured a panel discussion with four inspiring founders, a small business showcase, and a networking mixer. To recap all the learnings from the panel discussion, we curated three highlighted themes, and you can read more about them below.
Supporting Local Latinx Businesses
The event was centered around supporting our local Latinx businesses, and our panelists provided key examples of what that can look like. “Support doesn’t mean that you have to go spend money at their shop; it means referring a friend, sharing an Instagram post, telling people why you like them…going and stopping by to create a reel; things like that really do help support a small business.” Claudia Rodríguez-Biezunski, Owner, Designer, and Creator of Sew Loka, reminded us that support for Latinx businesses extends beyond financial transactions. It involves spreading the word about these businesses on social media, subscribing to their newsletter, referring them to friends and family, or leaving positive reviews. These actions can create a meaningful impact on a small business.
Ricardo Cataño, Founding Farmer and Community Organizer of Foodshed provided a realistic example of why supporting local Latinx businesses rather than a chain is important. “When you buy a bouquet at Trader Joe’s or anywhere, that’s $5-$6; if they are able to sell it for that price, you can imagine how much money they are paying to the farmer, nothing, and it’s usually us the Latinos, working in those farms…we all like coffee, support our coffee places, sustain us, that’s why it is important.” These examples, from a bouquet for special occasions to daily coffee purchases, all add up to where and who you are supporting.
The Challenges of Entrepreneurship: A Seat at the Table
One question that was asked to the panelists was about the challenges of entrepreneurship and being a Latinx business owner. The CEO of Girolabs, Rodrigo Valdez, started with, “It is always challenging to be an entrepreneur, but being an entrepreneur and also being a Latino is more challenging,” which felt like a shared challenge among all the panelists and event attendees. Claudia shared her challenges having a storefront in Barrio Logan, “My not-so-favorite part of being a business owner is that people have this idea that because we are brown, we should charge less.”
Ricardo emphasized the need for Latinx entrepreneurs to have a voice in the food system, saying, “Us as Latinos, we’re in every single thing that happens to the food system. We grow the food, we harvest the food, we make the food, we serve the food in peoples’ houses and restaurants…and what we want is to be on the table to say where we want to go; that’s the part that is still not there, and we try to do it.” Latinos play pivotal roles in various stages of the food industry, yet representation and influence in decision-making processes remain insufficient.
Building a Supportive Latinx Entrepreneurial Community
Luz Maria Leal, Owner of Casa De Luz, opened up this conversation about building an entrepreneurial community, starting with our friends and family support. “I’m super grateful that I listened to my family and friends who were encouraging me to really share the creations that were developing, and it gave me a sense of purpose…Casa de Luz started in 2018, and it has really blossomed into a passion project that focuses on keeping traditions alive on a plant base level.”
In supporting Latinx-owned businesses and creating a community, Ricardo reminded us of the power of voting with our dollars and keeping the wealth in our community. “Sustainability means remediating the soil that’s been destroyed. Take care of us as business people in this community in the present, and think about the future of our kids and future generations. We have the power with our dollars; every time we purchase something, we have the power, and if we choose to give the power to someone else who is not going to benefit us and see us as invisible people or we don’t exist to them, we are giving that power.”
Lastly, Rodrigo stressed the importance of building a supportive community of Latinx entrepreneurs, “These relationships are not only transactional in terms of money, it’s also knowledge and support that people can give you.” Luz added that these types of events help build this community as, “There are different areas that entrepreneurs need help in, and events like this that will help us make those connections.”
Small Business Showcase
Following the panel discussion, eight entrepreneurs were featured in the small business showcase.
- Her Flow Studio
- Zerom Zero Waste
- SUN MUD
- Radical Hope Coffee
- Casa de Luz
- La Casa De Colombia
The Unidos en Éxito: Latinx Small Business Panel + Mixer, co-hosted by Nadi Marketing and Menos Waste, will continue quarterly in 2024; stay tuned for upcoming events by subscribing to Nadi Marketing’s email newsletter. Thank you to everyone who participated and attended our first event; we look forward to more in 2024.
The hosting location was Mujeres Brew House.
Photos by Esmeralda Ferraro and Nicholas Ferraro.