Culture

This Entrepreneur Worked For Years To Sell Her Authentic Mexican Sauces To The World And It Paid Off

In 2013, Lori Sandoval found herself in a tough predicament where she had to figure out what to do with her career. Fresh out of college and with plans to go to culinary school, she knew a career in food was part of her future. So she decided to pursue her passion and start a business around salsa where she could connect her Latina culture and background in cooking. Five years later, Sandoval is the proud owner of Salsaology, a line of all-natural and non-GMO cooking sauces inspired by regional Mexican flavors. The salsas reflect Sandoval’s desire to change the narrative on how Mexican products are viewed.

When Lori Sandoval first started making her salsa, she knew that she was on to something special.

credit: Salsaology
CREDIT: credit: Salsaology

Sandoval knew that if she put her background and experience into the salsas, she’d do great things with it. So she began showcasing her salsas at farmer markets. It wasn’t long until she realized this could be something bigger than a farmers market booth. She met a Whole Foods Market buyer who told Sandoval that if she could get the salsa mass produced they would carry her product in a few stores.

“I thought it would be easy to just start making them from home and go from there but I didn’t know there was so many guidelines and food standards to sell at Whole Foods,” Sandoval says. “That’s when I started looking for a manufacturer to help.”

Finding a manufacturer became one of Sandoval’s biggest challenges because of her ingredients.

She was denied by countless manufacturers that simply didn’t grasp what her product was truly about. Despite the passion she had and the success of the salsas, manufactures just didn’t understand it.

Manufacturers didn’t understand why her salsas had so many ingredients let alone their significance.

credit: Salsaology
CREDIT: credit: Salsaology

“They didn’t get it. They couldn’t understand that a salsa could have so many ingredients,” Sandoval says. “Everyone kept saying no and telling me you’re never going to sell $12 salsa.”

Sandoval says she kept having to explain to people the importance of her product and reminding them that salsa is more than just something you dip your chips in. She recalls constantly hearing stereotypical comments about Mexican food and manufacturers turning her away.

“I found myself having to defend my product and explaining that salsa means sauce.” Sandoval says.

After a year of getting her business shot down she finally got a yes from a manufacturer. However, there was one caveat — she had to get the ingredients herself. Sandoval agreed to the terms and would soon find herself driving through Los Angeles at the crack of dawn picking up ingredients in her SUV. She recalls the long mornings going from warehouse to warehouse getting pallets of cilantro and hibiscus and packing them in her car.

“That period in my life taught me a lot not only about food and how to start a business but about myself,” Sandoval says. “I did that for a year and knew this was what I needed to do.”

Today, Salsaology is sold across the country and has won multiple awards for it’s taste.

CREDIT: credit: Salsaology

By 2015, Sandoval’s vision was starting to take shape as Salsaology was getting picked up in over 250 markets across the country. Her vision of starting a business that was true to her background and culture was becoming a reality.

“When I saw the sauces at Whole Foods it was years of work come true,” Sandoval says. “I always wanted to create something that was part of me and there it was. I couldn’t believe it.”

Today, Salsaology is an award-winning sauce that has been sold across the U.S. and as far as Paris. Her line of sauces has grown to four including a seasonal pumpkin sauce with plans to eventually lower costs on her products. Sandoval credits those tough days jump starting her business as a reminder of where things are today.

“I wanted to create something you would find in Mexico but make it so you could experience it in your own home,” Sandoval says. “I feel that by making these sauces I’m taking back our food and re-creating what it really means to be authentic.”


READ: Here’s What These Top Mexican Chefs Have To Say About The Future Of Mexican Food In The US

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20 Creative Latina Cosplayers Who Will Inspire Your Next Comic Convention Look

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20 Creative Latina Cosplayers Who Will Inspire Your Next Comic Convention Look

@cosplayofcolor / Twitter

At comic conventions, fans from all over gather to celebrate comics, movies and TV shows. Between their special guest stars and exclusive content, comic conventions are like a wonderland to the millions of devoted fans who visit them. At these cons, the most creative ways to show your fandom some love is to cosplay.

Now that this year’s Emerald City Comic Con is over, comic convention season is in full swing. However, you don’t have to live in California or New York just to get into the cosplay goodness. Smaller conventions still pack in just as much fun and you’re guaranteed to find one close to you. With all those events, the cosplay options are endless.

Get in character and start planning your outfit because these looks will give you major inspiration.

1. Momo Kurumi Cosplay

Instagram / @momokurumicosplay

Latina artist, seamstress and cosplayer, Momo Kurumi lives by the philosophy that cosplay is for everyone. The award winning designer has participated in cosplay since 2007 and has done over 100 looks. Most of these costumes are completely self-made. Momo range is incredible; cosplaying anime characters, comic heroines, and Disney princesses. However, it’s her Chel cosplay — the South American native from “The Road To El Dorado” — that is especially giving us life.

2. Nerdtastic Mel

Instagram / @nerdtasticmel

It seems like there isn’t any look that this Afro-Latina cosplayer can’t pull off. A self proclaimed nerd, Nerdtastic Mel serves looks ranging from adorable Pokémon and beautiful Disney Princesses to a spot on Hermonie Granger and creepy cute Wednesday Adams. Be sure to check out her 90s cartoon looks as well for a shot of nostalgia.

3. Art by Renna

Instagram / @artbyrenna_

Cosplayer Art by Renna — real name Amanda — is just as comfortable in sexy looks as she is in her sweeter ones. If you catch her at a comic convention, she could be anyone from Mary Jane Watson to Maleficent. However, cosplay isn’t the only place she’s confident. Amanda is also a boudoir and lingerie model.

4. Iced Coffee Mel

Instagram / @icedcoffeemel

Iced Coffee Mel is a Columbian cosplayer practicing her craft in Toronto, Canada. Whether she’s working anime or comic characters, she completely transforms into her roles with impressive authenticity. Check out her quirky Mina Asido, her sultry Black Cat or her amazingly cool Sombra to get a feel of Mel’s versatility.

5. Jennocide Cosplay

Instagram / @jennocide_cosplay

Peruvian-Canadian cosplayer Jennocide is a queen of the head-to-toe look. Besides making sure her costuming is always on point, her attention to prop and accessory fabrication takes her looks to another level. Additionally, Jennocide is a master of makeup. Her Vemon, Gamora and Scar makeups are works of art. If that isn’t enough, her take on Zatanna is more than magical.

6. Moxxi Shenanigans

Instagram / @moxxishenanigans

Cosplayer and costume creator Moxxi Shenanigans’ looks are as diverse as they are creative. If you’re looking for inspo for your video game cosplay or are just curious to see a really impressive Gizmo costume, her Insta is a must-see. Besides well-known characters, she also creates her own — like her “Stars War” inspired Jedi Ariel.

7. Joanna Mari

Instagram / @joanna.mari

New York-based cosplayer Joanna Mari specializes in both Sci-Fi and Fantasy. A skilled prop fabricator, her expertise come in handy for characters ranging from Wonder Woman to Raven from “Teen Titans.” Her reimaginings of sweet cartoon characters like “Pokémon,” “My Little Pony” and “Carebears” into knights, warriors and mages is a thing of beauty.

8. Stephanie X Moon

Instagram / @stephaniexmoon_

Chicago cosplayer Stephanie X Moon likes to bring some sex appeal and a healthy dose of horror to her costuming. An alternative model, her pin up looks reimagine scary movie creators like Chucky and the Bride of Frankenstein. In addition to her spooky styles, she also gets inspiration from comic books; bringing to life characters like Scarlet Witch and Cat Woman.

9. Chicago Princess Sarah

Instagram / @Chicagoprincesssarah

As her name suggests, Chicago Princess Sarah is an Illinois-based cosplayer. A singer and artist, she works with the other talented character actresses at Chicago Princess Parties, a company that provides magical experiences for Disney lovers. Besides looking like a princess, she has to embody that character’s personality and vibe. Sarah has played everyone from Belle to Esmeralda but we’re partial to her Elena of Avalor — Disney’s first Latina princess.

10. Adonia GameGoddess

Instagram / @gamegoddess4ever1

Cosplayer Adonia GameGoddess is a Puerto Rican jack of all trades. Costume designer, prop maker, gamer and otaku, she brings her passion and talent to her looks. A regular guest at comic conventions around the nation, Adonia is at home whether she’s playing Green Latern Jessica Cruz or Bunny Bulma from “Dragon Ball Z.”

11. Cin’Von Quinzel

Instagram / @cosplayofcolor

Body positive cosplayer Cin’Von Quinzel is a self-taught costume maker from New York City. The Puerto Rican model and performer isn’t afraid to flaunt her curves in her unique takes on characters like Mercy from “Overwatch” or the Pokémon Vaporeon. As a plus-sized Afro-Latina, Cin’Von represents two marginalized groups in the cosplay community. Still, with looks like her impressive Hela cosplay, there’s no doubt about why she’s made a name for herself.

12. Ivvy Dream

Instagram / @ivvy_dream

Though she calls herself a “cosplayer in training,” Ivvy Dream’s collection of characters is already very impressive. The Puerto Rican and Nicaraguan artist mostly works with inspiration she finds from Japanese anime. You’ll find a Poison Ivy and Elmyra in her reprutoir, but she also seamlessly encapsulates Diane from “The Seven Deadly Sins.”

13. Surely Shirley Cosplay

Instagram / @surelyshirleycosplay

Lover of all things anime and manga, body positive cosplayer Surely Shirley is a crafty member of the cosplay community. Costumes like her take on Amethyst from “Steven Universe” and her Hinata from the “Naturo” series are spot on. However, it’s looks like her Bowsette (a female Bowser) that will really make an impression on you.

14. Ivy Doomkitty

Instagram / @ivydoomkitty

With over 300k Instagram followers, Ivy Doomkitty is one of the most popular Latina cosplayers in the world. Based out of LA, the international model is also a content creator, a pin up model and an advocate for body positivity. If you check out her previous looks, you’ll find sexy cosplays like her Ms Marvel and Jessica Rabbit. However, her Bison from “Street Fighter” proves that Ivy has her costuming down, head to toe.

15. Gabi Rupee

Instagram / @Myladygabriella

Atlanta cosplayer and self-proclaimed “anime trash,” Gabi Rupee’s cosplay looks are just as animated as her interests. The Brazilian-American gaming video creator draws on her love for Japanese animation to craft creative looks like her Captain Deku — a mashup of “Captain America” and “My Hero Academia.” As imaginative as that look is, we can’t help feeling that her Faye Valentine of “Cowboy Bebop” fame is positively spot on.

16. Julia Rose

Instagram / @diary_of_a_rose

Whether you love anime, video games or Disney characters, cosplayer Julia Rose has a look for you. Her adaptation of Pajama Party Ariel from “Ralph Breaks The Internet” is too precious for words. Her Princess Serenity from “Sailor Moon” is more than ethereal. Also, Julia’s playful Disneybound looks — like Edna from “The Incredibles” — are just as creative as her full costumes.

17. Phoenix Skye Cosplay

Instagram / @Phoenixskyecosplay

Phoenix Skye is a LGBT Dominicana that embodies that cosplay is for everyone. A body positive advocate, she documented her substantial weight loss through cosplay. She showsnl ws ithat no matter the size, she could rock her costumes. Check out her Gender-bent Joker for a real taste of her talent but we also can’t get enough of this gorgeous Moana look.

18. Yani Luv

Instagram / @yani.luv

“Teen Titans,” “Space Jam,” “My Hero Academia” and “Steve Universe.” These just a few of the fandoms multi-talented cosplayer Yani Luv has explored. The Afro-Latina Boricua utilizes both self-fabricated props and impressive body painting skills to embody her characters. While Yani cosplays plenty of human characters, we’re partial to her absolutely adorable take on Retsuko from Sanrio’s “Aggretsuko.”

19. Iza Ragnhildr

Instagram / @izunacosplay

Fashion design student Iza Ragnhildr should get extra points for practical application. Whether she’s cosplaying each and every favorite video game protagonist, the Cuban-Mexican artist fully transforms herself. A great example of this is her killer take on steam punk Poison Ivy.

20. Theophania Cosplay

Instagram / @theophania_cosplay

Video games and anime are usually Theophania’s go-to when it comes to cosplay. Besides her cute cosplays, the Houston-based Mexican Puerto Rican is a part of the Jammingers — a live action movie about a team of music-based superheroes. Her human Judy Hwa wazopps will also make you want to check out her incredible Disney cosplays.

California Man Is Using His Culture To Create Hilarious And Super Relevant Mexican Greet Cards

Culture

California Man Is Using His Culture To Create Hilarious And Super Relevant Mexican Greet Cards

paper_tacos / Instagram

Jesus Ruvalcaba was an artist looking for more creative freedom in his life. Even after getting a job as an art director at eBay and Hewlett-Packard in Silicon Valley, the then 36-year-old felt complacent. It was a stop at a grocery store when he went to buy his mother a birthday card that a light bulb flashed in his head. 

“I looked at all these cards but couldn’t find something that resonated with my Latino culture,” Ruvalcaba said. “I felt that an entire population group was being ignored.”

That night planted the seeds of what would eventually become Paper Tacos, a greeting card business focusing on Mexican culture and traditions. From get well soon messages that read “sana sana colita de rana” ((heal, heal little frog) to birthday cards that read “sapo verde,” Ruvalcaba had tapped into a demographic that wasn’t typically represented in the greeting card business. 

“I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt like this,” he said. “This was more than just about a greeting card but seeing my culture being seen.” 

Ruvalcaba, the son of two Mexican immigrants, got most of his inspiration growing up in the Central Valley fields of California. He worked alongside his parents in the isolated artichoke fields where he learned to draw. 

Credit: Jesus Ruvalcaba / Paper Tacos

Ruvalcaba knew he wanted to be an artist at a young age and says growing up he would usually be found carrying around a sketchbook full of drawings. He didn’t grow up with much as his parents were Mexican immigrants who worked tirelessly as fieldworkers in the central California valley in cities like Castroville and later in Salinas. 

“My parents didn’t really know a lick of English so my drawings did a lot of the talking for me,” he says. “We didn’t have much growing up but they would buy me art supplies and always encouraged me to keep drawing.”

Those drawings would pave the way for a career in animation as Ruvalcaba became the first in his family to graduate college obtained a degree in graphic design at California State University Monterey Bay and eventually his Master’s degree. Shortly after, he would find himself in Silicon Valley working for companies like eBay and Hewlett-Packard as an art director. 

Ruvalcaba knew he could still do more with his talents. After attending a Dia de los Muertos art event in 2016, he met another artist selling Spanish prints with Mexican slogans. He was then reminded of that night at the market when he couldn’t find a Spanish greeting card for his mom. 

“It hit me right there and then that if I could come up with greeting cards that have Mexican sayings like “sana sana colita de rana,” I could tap into a market that was never really acknowledged prior.” Ruvalcaba said. 

After receiving encouragement from his girlfriend, Ruvalcaba put his illustration skills and graphic design experience to work as he produced his first set of 15 cards for 300 dollars. In Fall 2017, Paper Tacos became a reality. 

Credit: Jesus Ruvalcaba / Paper Tacos

About a year after the idea of Paper Tacos first came up, Ruvalcaba attended the same art festival from the year prior and sold his first greeting card for $5 apiece. The response to the cards was immediate and customers told Ruvalcaba about what it meant to see their culture on a product like this.

“It felt like my idea was validated in a way and seeing everyone respond so positively to Paper Tacos was just the cherry on top,” said Ruvalcaba. “From there it only got even bigger.”

In the following months of 2017, Paper Tacos made its launch and by the end of 2017, he had made $2,000 within just three months of launching his site. In 2018, he had made over $12,000 in sales and today has over 20K followers on Instagram alone. When he started the business, there were only 15 card designs which have now grown to over 100. He’s also branded outside of California and is currently selling his greeting cards at 25 stores throughout the country.

For Ruvalcaba, Paper Tacos hasn’t been just any business move or a little extra income revenue. It’s a tribute to his Mexican background and a reflection of his culture that he feels is being celebrated every time one of his cards is given. 

Credit: Jesus Ruvalcaba / Paper Tacos

When asked about where his inspiration for his greeting cards come from, Ruvalcaba says his parents. Those long days working along with them in the artichoke fields and holidays where all they had was each other. 

“Every card is a reflection of me growing up in a Mexican household and other people have connected with that,” said Ruvalcaba. “When I brainstorm ideas I just look back to my childhood.”

That connection is something special he says. While Ruvalcaba still has a full-time job as a designer in Santa Clara, if things keep going the way they are, Paper Tacos will become his main focus. 

Through Instagram, Ruvalcaba has begun working with more freelancers to keep growing Paper Tacos and get more artists opportunities. His business plan is to expand to other Latino backgrounds to work and reach out to Salvadoran and Nicaraguan artists so that they too can see representation.  

“This business has shown me how powerful this product can be and every time someone tells me the impact that these cards have had on a family member or a friend, it sticks with me,” Ruvalcaba says. “It’s a special thing to know a simple greeting card can do this.”

READ: Patty Delgado Is Changing The World Of Latino Fashion With Her Own Store Hija De Tu Madre