Culture

From Popup To Retail Store, These Two Business Partners Have Created A Space For Latino Brands

When Luis Octavio, 36, and Gladys Vasquez, 40, met in 2016 they thought of a crazy idea. Both were struggling vendors trying to make a name for themselves but could never find the right event to get their names out there. Octavio sold his line of embroidered hats and balloons, while Vasquez had her graphic design brand.

“When Luis asked me if there was an event solely dedicated to Latino vendors I said ‘No’ and then an idea dawned on us,” Vasquez said. “We asked ourselves, ‘Why isn’t there an event or space catered just for Latino vendors?.”

That crazy idea became a reality this month as both Octavio and Vaquez opened up Molcajete Dominguero Tienda, a retail space in Boyle Heights solely dedicated for Latino vendors to sell their products.

They wanted to create a space for Latino brands to promote and elevate themselves.

Photo by Javier Rojas

Octavio had a marketing background and Vasquez had some experience with accounting, so together they knew they could make this a reality. With
only $50 invested from each of them, Molcajete Dominguero Tienda started as a monthly pop-up event on Sundays in 2017. They would host vendors that would sell everything from Latino-inspired jewelry to concha themed pillows.

But everything didn’t start off so smoothly. Initially there was skepticism from vendors about how all this would work. Many didn’t know what to think of their idea of an all-Latino popup event and if their products would even sell.

“We reached out to probably 100 vendors and only 35 responded,” Vasquez said recalling their first popup at Self Help Graphics in Boyle Heights. “We didn’t really know what we were doing and didn’t know if a single person was gonna walk through that door.”

Those fears quickly left as they saw a forming line of about 30 people. By the end, they had well over 450 people attend their first popup event. “We couldn’t believe it and it was in that moment our hard work, in a way, felt validated,” Vasquez said.

Things only went up from there. Octavio and Vasquez began hosting monthly popups across Los Angeles and even in San Francisco. Their brand quickly grew on Instagram and realized they needed a permanent space for their business.

In just two years, they became the largest Latino popup in the country and now have a retail space dedicated to Latino brands.

Photo by Javier Rojas

The vision that Vasquez and Octavio had in 2016 has become a reality. From Selena pillows to Frida Kahlo fanny-packs, Molcajete Dominguero Tienda gives Latino vendors a space to showcase their brands. The name, Molcajete Dominguero, is a play on words from the traditional Mexican stone tool used to grind various food products. It is also a representation of the various vendors they bring together on Sundays at their popups.

Their current database has over 400 vendors from LA to San Francisco that either have their products sold at the store or at popups. Vendors typically pay $150 to have a space at a popup event and get promoted on their Instagram page.

“We feel like this is important to so many people that feel like they don’t see themselves when they go into big retailers,” Octavio said. “We want people to come in here and feel at home. Whether it’s the colorful wall murals, the fresh smell of Fabuloso or the familiar sound of Spanish music playing, we’re trying to create something special.”

Having the store in Boyle Heights is no coincidence. The largely Latino working class community has welcomed and embraced their business.

Photo by Javier Rojas

The location of the store in Boyle Heights has great meaning. Vasquez grew up in East LA and Octavio in Santa Ana, so both know the importance of having a business in a predominant Latino neighborhood. They say that many community members have welcomed them and have been getting regulars at the store already.

“This business is needed especially in a place like Boyle Heights where identity is important,” Octavio said. “These brands need a home and we feel like they found one here in East LA.”

Their grand opening this month was an indicator of their success as
well over 500 people showed up. Octavio said there was a line around the block and people waited almost two hours in the rain just to get in.

A local community artist has already left their mark at the store
with a mural of Mexican singer Maria Felix. There is already future plans to have two more artists paint murals outside the store. Octavio also hopes to host various workshops that will benefit the youth in the area as well. Earlier this year they hosted a Pinata making workshop and a Loteria night for the community.

“We need these spaces like this so we could feel apart of something. Tell me where you can find a pinata or a serape wall,” Octavio said. “People here in Boyle Heights now can go to a place where they can find Salvadorian, Puerto Rican or Mexican goods all in one.”

Having a brick and mortar store is just the first step of many to come.

Photo by Javier Rojas

The store has been a dream come true for Octavio and Vasquez that they say happened by just taking a risk on what they envisioned three years ago.

“Look we’re not the first to have a pop-up or a Latino-inspired one, however we are the first to think of this on a larger scale,” Octavio said. “The inspiration has always been to elevate our comunidad.”

The business partners say this is just the next step in what they envisioned for Molcajete Dominguero Tienda. They will soon be taking their popup to Chicago this year and hope to get some vendors hop on board from the East Coast. There has even been plans to have an online business with some vendor products but for now the store is their main focus.

Vasquez says the most humbling part about this entire journey has been building a relationship with vendors. “Getting to know about the people behind the brand and hearing their story makes this all worth it because we know how much this platform means to them as much as it does to us.”

It’s because of this sentiment that the store recently changed their tagline from “Where vendors grind together” to “Where brands grind together”. Octavio says this is more than just about one person, it’s about uplifting a community of people and seeing them all rise together.

“We’re not calling them vendors anymore. They’re brands and we’re trying to elevate them,” Octavio said. “Big box retailers we no longer need your space because we’re now creating our own.”

Molcajete Dominguero Tienda is located in 2195 Whittier Blvd. in Boyle Heights. 

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

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We Just Created The Latino Thirst List To Include Your Favorites And Here It Is

Entertainment

We Just Created The Latino Thirst List To Include Your Favorites And Here It Is

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Sit back and get ready to take a tour of some of the hottest Latino celebs to grace your screen — a lot of them picked by you in these comments, lovingly organized in list form by us. Thank you/you’re most very welcome.

Bruno Mars

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Bruno Mars, né Peter Gene Hernandez, stormed onto the music scene back in 2010 with the release of his “Doo-Wops & Hooligans album, which brought us hits like “Just The Way You Are” and “Grenade.” Jump to 2014 and the release of “Uptown Funk,” and it was clear that this man had swag for days. Like, literally, so much swag just drips of him and his smooth moves that we don’t know how to handle it.

Jesús “Chino” Miranda

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If you’ve never heard of Jesús “Chino” Miranda, then you have been severely missing out. This walking statue of perfection is part of the wildly popular Venezuelan reggaeton duo Chino Y Nacho. Though he has gotten rid of his flowing locks of hair, this Venezolano will still make your heart melt when you catch a glimpse of his beautiful smile. ?

Ricky Martin

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All the way from Puerto Rico, Ricky Martin has been driving women and men crazy with his gyrating hips long before he had the U.S. dancing to “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” Now a father to twins, he’s the perfect example of Latino men aging like fine wine. Every year gets better and better, and we will continue to be here for this man.

Tristan Wilds

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You might think that Tristan Wilds got his big break thanks to Adele’s music video for “Hello,” but this Dominican slice of heaven has been in the game long before that. Do you remember a little movie called “Red Tails” or the CW revival of “90210“? Either way, Wilds has proven to be a damn good actor with a smile that could light up all of Hollywood.

Rafael Amaya

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Don’t look at Rafael Amaya straight on unless you are ready to deal with his sultry eyes piercing through to your soul. This Mexican telenovela star has made quite the name of himself as a telenovela tour de force. From his uncredited appearances on “Ugly Betty” to playing Aurelio Casillas on “El Señor de los Cielos,” there is never a time when women and men don’t swoon over this 6’2″ drink of water. ????

Thiago Silva

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This Brazilian-born futbolista might look like just another boy next door, but don’t let that fool you. Thiago Silva is all over the place, literally, playing fútbol for the Brazilian national team, as well as Paris Saint-Germain. The best part about this sexy af athlete are those plump and pouty lips. Like, who wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a Silva kiss?

Mauricio Ochmann

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Another Mexicano from the “El Señor de los Cielos” cast, Mauricio Ochmann has the kind of attitude and temperament suitable for a future hubby. Not to mention he was the total heart throb in “7 Mujeres 1 Homosexual Y Carlos.” Those puppy dog eyes are enough to make us weak in the knees and fall into his oh-so defined arms. Plus, who doesn’t love a good-looking straight man who is totally down for complete and total equality for the LGBTQ community? Answer: NO ONE.

Oscar Isaac

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Guatemalan-Cuban actor Oscar Isaac is just the right amount of no-f*cks-given rolled into a very handsome package. Not only has he proven his acting chops over and over again in movies like “Ex-Machina,” this dude has so many other talents. Remember when he showed the world the best way to eat Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? Sorry, I seemed to have lost the ability to breathe.

Carmelo Anthony

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Carmelo Anthony, a prolific scorer in the NBA, is the 6’8″ puertorriqueño dreamboat the New York Knicks needed when he was traded over from the Denver Nuggets in 2011. But it isn’t his reliable shooting record we care about, no. We are here for this rugged good looks and those ever-so-sexy tattoos he has creeping up around his jersey.

Aarón Díaz

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This studmuffin all the way from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, has always had a way of stopping people in their tracks and taking the breath right out of ’em. Even when Aarón Díaz is posing with his adorable daughter, dude knows how to put those hypnotizing eyes to work. We are all still trying to figure out why in the hell Kate del Castillo let this prime hunk of man out of her life.

Laz Alonso

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Laz Alonso, a first generation Cuban-American, has been heating up screens both big and small. Not only did this Cuban vision of beauty play Fenix in “Fast & Furious” (still waiting for him to handcuff me, if we’re being honest), but he’s also been in “Avatar” and, most recently, “The Mysteries of Laura.” ? *sets DVR for a show I’ve never heard of*

Édgar Ramírez

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by @patrickjamesmiller for @variety #tb #latergram

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What is it with these hunky Venezolanos all over the place?! You might recognize Édgar Ramírez from “Joy,” where he acted alongside Jennifer Lawrence. Does he have great acting skills? Sure. But can we take a minute and just admire the sexual appeal that comes from being a hairy and buff Latino. Seriously, there is nothing better than finding that perfect, cuddly teddy bear, even if you have to stand outside looking through his window. #NotPersonalExperienceOrAnything ?

Romeo Santos

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I miss U ❤️

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Every girl, guy, dog and cat just could NOT get enough of Aventura, especially the Dominican-Puerto Rican Romeo Santos. Not only can we not stop looking at his trademark dimple, we also just want one or two hours holding his muscle-bound arms. Just imagine how great it must feel to have him hold you like you were the only person in the world. ? Tell me that you love me / And you need me ? Please!

Alexis Sánchez

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If you’re not a football fan, get ready to start caring. Arsenal fans really lucked out when Alexis Sánchez started to grace their pitch in 2014. This Chilean dreamboat is everything you could ever want in a futbolista fantasy. How can you NOT watch an Arsenal game when you get to keep your eyes on those rippling shoulders and perfectly styled hair? Seriously. #TeamAlexis or GTFO.

Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez

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Yes. Gingers exist in every race and ethnicity, and Mexican pro boxer Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez is one of them. The World Boxing Council middleweight champion has been killing the boxing game just like he is knocking us all out with his chiseled jaw and shredded abs. Tbh, it’s a little hard to watch him in the ring. Not because we don’t like his boxing style or kickass performance, but because we just don’t want to see that pretty face damaged.

Laith Ashley De La Cruz

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If you’ve never heard of Laith Ashley De La Cruz, well, now you’re welcome. De La Cruz is one of the hottest Latino Instagrammers, with more than 70,000 followers. This Dominican model first made his appearance in Barney’s “Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters” campaign celebrating the beauty of trans models. De La Cruz was only one month into his transition when he was photographed by Bruce Weber. But, like, for real. Those lips are perfection!

Kid Cudi

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Kid Cudi is probably what all your dreams are made of. Not only does the man know how to get you and all your amigos dancing and vibing, he is also the most adorable musician on Instagram. The best part is this Mexican-American singer doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he isn’t so self-involved that he just fills his social media with selfie after selfie. Instead, this man sticks to giving the fans what they want… a good mix of sexy selfies and sexy performance photos. #Range

Michael Peña

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We all fell in love with Michael Peña when he played Cesar Chavez, and he sure knew how to scare the hell out of us in “The Vatican Tapes” as Father Lozano. Tbh, he was probably the main reason you went to see “The Martian.” Every time this Mexicano hits the big screen, we are all reminded that the “boy next door” look never looked so good. It’s a good thing we don’t live in his neighborhood or we would seriously never get anything done. *peers through blind*

Miguel

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MOXY

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Seriously. Can anyone, ANYONE, point out a moment in his career when Miguel didn’t ooze sex appeal? Didn’t think so. So, instead of trying to figure out if his sexuality and appeal have any restrictions, let’s just sit back and stare intently at this gorgeous smile and beautiful hair. Maybe if we stare heard enough he’ll eventually Adorn us with some of that loving. ?

Adam Rodriguez

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Adam Rodriguez is the professor we ALL wish we had while we were in school. Attendance would be high and consistent af if this Puerto Rican/Cuban papi was the one dropping all that knowledge. And that adorably cock-eyed smile just makes it all the better, amiright? Does anyone know if the “Jane the Virgin” sex bomb does private tutoring? I promise not to kiss his sweater. ?

Mario Lopez

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I'm ready for Opening Day! @MLB @Dodgers #LA #CapsOn

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Since his “Saved By The Bell” days Mario Lopez has cornered the market on sexy Latinos in mainstream media. And while he might always have a clean-shaven look, his swole arms and come-over-here smile are EVERYTHING. Ahem, did I mention I love the Dodgers? This picture had no sway on that opinion.

Pedro Pascal

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The whole world collectively cried when this Chilean heartthrob was (spoiler alert?) violently killed off on HBO’s hit show “Game of Thrones.” It’s like the creators of the show just wanted GoT to lose all of the sexiness he brought to the television screen. Thankfully, Netflix jumped on the opportunity to have this man up their sexy Latino content with his role in “Narcos.”

Prince Royce

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Hi @calvinklein

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Is there anyone left who hasn’t fallen head over heels for this Dominican singer? Seriously. Those lips and smile are enough to make any woman or man drop everything and hang on every last word he sings. Plus, it’s not easy to out-sexy Jennifer Lopez like Prince Royce did in the “Back It Up” music video. All you need to do is call and I will be there to stand right by you, boo!

Ezequiel Lavezzi

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🌅

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Hebei China Fortune is definitely fortunate (?) with the addition of this smoking Argentine vision of beauty. While he is drop-dead gorgeous in his soccer uniform, his fashion sense makes him the best dressed player to ever grace your computer screen. Like, what was Paris Saint-Germain even thinking by letting this guy go? Though, you can’t really blame him for going after the offer to make him the richest soccer player in the world.

Richard Cabral

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You no doubt know about this man from his Emmy-nominated role on “American Crime,” but this dude has a past that would make most people scared. The former gang member has really been able to turn his life around and, in turn, has become an inspiration to millions. It also doesn’t hurt that Richard Cabral is so damn fine! There is something about a skinny dude with long hair and tats that gets your attention.

Al Madrigal

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Made it.

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Al Madrigal gave all Latino Jon Stewart fans someone they could finally relate to. As the senior Latino correspondent, he was able to give his reporting that Mexican twist we didn’t even know we were missing. As his career has grown and we’ve watched him report story after story, we have slowly and surely fallen in love with this adorable goofball’s cute looks and sense of humor. #TeamAlMadrigal

 Javier “Chicharito” Hernández

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No sexy Latino list is complete without everyone’s favorite futbolista, Chicharito. This man has brought so many people over to the world of fútbol (this writer included). From his playful smile to the funny videos he’s been part of, there is nothing this guy can’t do. There’s just one question: When are we going to Germany to watch our favorite Mexicano fútbol star take on Europe?!

READ: Here Are 11 Sexy Latino Men with Their Kids to Give You All the Feels

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Accurate Information Is Crucial Now More Than Ever And This Organization Is Making It Available En Español For Our Family Members

Things That Matter

Accurate Information Is Crucial Now More Than Ever And This Organization Is Making It Available En Español For Our Family Members

Danny Trejo / Instagram

At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, one thing was abundantly clear: Spanish-speaking communities were being kept in the dark. Politicians, including Joaquin Castro, have voiced their concern that the federal government is not doing enough to warn Spanish-speaking communities. Here’s what one organization is doing to combat that.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is organizing to get information on COVID-19 to Spanish-speaking communities.

The COVID-19 response has left a lot to be desired by many in the U.S. The federal government has been criticized as being slow to admit the full scope of the pandemic. President Trump has been criticized for downplaying the threat and, most recently, celebrating protests against lockdown measures in certain states endangering American lives. Through it all, the federal government has been criticized for not offering all of the resources about COVID-19 in Spanish.

LULAC has started #AyudaEnEspanol to offer more resources to Spanish-speaking communities during the pandemic.

Spanish is a major language spoken in the U.S. Major American cities are filled with Spanish-speaking and immigrant communities. These communities are being left behind due to a lack of information and resources in Spanish about the COVID-19 crisis. In 2015, the population of Spanish speakers in the U.S. surpassed the population of Spain.

The lack of information being given to the Latino community is having serious consequences.

In New York, Latino and Black communities are being disproportionately impacted by the deadly virus. According to The New York Times, COVID-19 is killing Latino and Black people in New York City at twice the rate of their white counterparts.

“There are clear inequalities, clear disparities in how this disease is affecting the people of our city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told The New York Times. “The truth is that in so many ways the negative effects of coronavirus — the pain it’s causing, the death it’s causing — tracks with other profound health care disparities that we have seen for years and decades.”

People are spreading the news to get essential Spanish-language COVID-19 information out there.

Danny Trejo is just one person putting their name and platform behind the movement. LULAC, in coordination with Hornitos Tequila, is pushing to make sure that all Spanish speaking people in the U.S. are given the proper information about COVID-19. It is crucial that our communities know how to protect themselves from this virus as it continues to spread across the globe.

#AyudaEnEspanol’s sole purpose is to help and protect our vulnerable communities in the face of a deadly pandemic.

“#AyudaEnEspañol is about helping millions of Spanish-speaking Latinos with practical, needed information that can be accessed by multi-generational households in both Spanish and English,” Sindy Benavides, LULAC National Chief Executive Officer, said according to PR News Wire. “The program provides COVID-19-related assets that will help save untold numbers of lives and reduce suffering in our community, which has already been impacted beyond measure.”

Share this resource with all of your Spanish-speaking family members to make sure they are as safe as they can be during this time.

READ: The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

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