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This Is How Mexican-Born Artist, Ilse Valfré Went From Preschool Teacher To Founding A Multi Million Dollar Brand

How do you make your passion into a successful business? Los Angeles-based artist and entrepreneur Ilse Valfré, 29, asked herself that very question, now she’s making millions.

Eight years ago, you could easily spot Ilse Valfré being extremely fashionable on the streets of San Diego.

Her unique sense of attainable style was captured on the pages of Teen Vogue when she was just 21-years-old. Back then the Tijuana native was busy working as a pre-school teacher — she even authored a children’s book, but her real passion has always been art.

Her art work grew a cult following on tumblr and other social media pages. Fans of her illustrations even dress up like characters she created.

CREDIT: Twitter/@neontouch @itskendallkay

Valfré says that art is a form of therapy for her, and the natural extension of her work made it possible to transition into fashion.

“I consider fashion a means of expression, and so is art!” Valfré said when she was 23. “I know this is said over and over, but I do have a deep passion for fashion and sometimes when I see a new collection that I can’t afford, I say to myself: ‘Since I can’t afford it right now, I’ll style my paper dolls with the clothes I wish I had.” It’s like living in my own little fantasy world.'”

Roughly three years later, Valfré started her company, along with her husband, appropriately named after herself.

CREDIT: Valfre.com

At Valfré.com you can find an assortment of accessories including cell phone cases. She said that if someone wants to start their own business it’s important to be very specific about what they want to sell. “At the beginning it was pretty much a one-woman show,” Valfré said in an interview with Fortune. “It’s fun to open up product categories and create new types of products but you need to have a big team to continue to grow these categories once they’re open.”

Her brand’s real seller is women’s fashion.

CREDIT: Valfre.com

The Valfré woman can be described as girly, passionate about being a feminist, and always experimental. Valfré said her stylish inspiration should never be about limiting yourself to one form of trend.

Feminism has always been at the forefront to her brand.

Valfré says that feminism isn’t just about being a woman, but being strong and bold about who you are.

I think don’t think having ovaries makes you a woman,” Valfré said in an interview with StyleCaster. “Like my mother for example, she doesn’t have ovaries; since she had me, she’s had to get them removed, but that doesn’t make her less of a woman because of that, you know? I have a trans friend, and she’s a female, and she wasn’t born with female parts. But that doesn’t make her less of a woman than I am.”

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El Pollo Loco Announces First Round Of Latina Business Owners To Win $10K Grants

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El Pollo Loco Announces First Round Of Latina Business Owners To Win $10K Grants

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Update: October 14, 2020

El Pollo Local Grants was created to help Latina-owned small businesses and the Latinas who started them. As part of the program, El Pollo Loco awarded $100,000 in grant money directly to ten Latina entrepreneurs who needed support during this pandemic. El Pollo Loco has also set up a GoFundMe to use the momentum and community support to save more Latina-owned businesses. Here are some of the Latina-owned business that El Pollo Loco helped with their grant program.

Thirteen lucky Latina food jefas in Los Angeles won grants from El Pollo Loco.

El Pollo Loco, in partnership with #WeAllGrow Latina, is putting their money back into their community. With Covid-19 devastating small business owners, Latinas in particular, the fast-food chain wanted to help those struggling. In response to the ongoing pandemic, El Pollo Loco created the #FundLatinaFoodJefas campaign to give $10,000 and mentorship to Latina food jefas in the Los Angeles area.

“When El Pollo Loco approached us about working together to support the local Latina business community, we were all in,” Ana Flores, founder and CEO of #WeAllGrow Latina, said in a statement when the fund was announced. “We know that Latinas are driving economic gains that create generational wealth for the broader community, but that the circumstances of COVID-19 have posed a significant threat to our progress. This program will provide the exposure, mentorship, and the cash that women in our community, specifically those in the food industry, need to adapt their businesses to this new reality.”

Thirteen Latina food jefas won the grants. The restaurants and jefas were nominated by customers, friends, and family who wanted to see them thrive. The winners of the grants are Amara Kitchen & Catering, The Salvi Vega, Alchemy Organica, Cafe Santo, La Llorona Bakes, Todo Verde, Andrea’s Healthy Kitchen, Milpa Grille, Salsaology, Twisted for Sugar, Yucas, East Los Sweets, and Alta Baja Market.

Congratulations to all of the Latina food jefas who won the grants to keep their businesses going. El Pollo Loco wants to keep the love going. If you want to help, you can donate to their GoFundMe here.

Original: Covid-19 has devastated millions of Americans with job loss. Unemployment skyrocketed as the federal government failed to create and execute a plan to combat the pandemic. El Pollo Loco is stepping up and giving our community a chance to keep business doors open and community members employed.

El Pollo Loco is giving Latina business owners in the greater Los Angeles area a lifeline in these uncertain times.

The Latino community is the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs and business owners in the U.S. According to a Stanford University study, Latino business owners grew 34 percent while every other demographic grew 1 percent over the last ten years.

However, Covid has changed things. Latina-owned business are some of the hardest hit and the sudden loss is impacting our community. According to the Pew Research Center, Latinas experienced a -21 percent change in small business ownership and jobs since the Covid downturn.

El Pollo Loco is offering $100,000 in grants to different Latina-owned businesses because of the pandemic.

The fast-food chain has started a GoFundMe to keep the donations going. El Pollo Loco has already pledged $100,000 to help Latina small businesses and the GoFundMe promises to keep the donations flowing. For every $10,000 raised in the GoFundMe, El Pollo Loco will donate it to a Latina small business. The GoFundMe has raised over $100,000 at the time of this post.

#WeAllGrow Latina partnered with El Pollo Loco to give Latina business owners this lifeline.

#WeAllGrow Latina and El Pollo Loco are asking the Latino community to help find Latina small businesses that deserve the grants. Instead of making the decision themselves, #WeAllGrow Latina and El Pollo Loco want you to nominate your favorite Latina small business for the grant.

“This year has been unlike any other, leaving Latina-owned businesses disproportionately impacted,” Bernard Acoca, President and Chief Executive Officer of El Pollo Loco, said in a statement. “Given the critical role brands are expected to play during the pandemic and on the heels of Hispanic Heritage Month, we felt compelled to find a way to support the people and city we call home.”

In order to nominate a business, here is what you have to do.

Credit: weallgrowlatina.com/fundlatinafoodjefas

Using social media, nominate your favorite LA-based Latina small business and tag @elpolloloco and @weallgrowlatina while using #grantcontest and #FundLatinaFoodJefas. You can nominate the business up to five times.

People are already nominating their favorite food places in LA.

You have until Sept. 15 to nominate your favorite Latina small business. You can help them win $10,000 and mentorship from El Pollo Loco to help Latina business owners in LA keep their doors open. You can learn more here.

READ: California Is Poised To Become The First State To Offer Unemployment To Undocumented Workers

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She Immigrated From Mexico And Now She Is Going To Be Selling Her Tamales To Fans At The New Warriors’ Arena

Culture

She Immigrated From Mexico And Now She Is Going To Be Selling Her Tamales To Fans At The New Warriors’ Arena

Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas / Facebook

This year is the start of a new era for Golden State Warriors basketball as the team has packed its bags from the old Oracle Arena in Oakland to the shiny new Chase Center in downtown San Francisco. The move across the bay will also coincide with a new line of food options that represent some of the Bay Area’s diverse foodscape. This will include the addition of tamales from an entrepreneur that has waited close to 20 years for an opportunity like this. 

Say hello to Alicia Villanueva, 58, who just landed a contract to sell her tamales at the new arena. Her story is one that represents the best of the American dream and shows the value of hard work.

Credit: Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas / Facebook

Born in the city of Mazatlan, in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, Villanueva immigrated to the U.S. with a dream to start a business selling tamales. Since a young age, she had been stuffing tamales with her mother and her abuelita. She believed tamales could be a way to connect her story to those of the people around her and as a way to make a living for her family. But this wouldn’t be easy and it would also take a lot of sacrifice on her behalf. 

So Villanueva hustled. During the day she would clean houses and take care of the disabled. Then at night, she would turn her attention over to tamales where she would make close to 100 tamales a day and up to 500 tamales in a single week. She would then take to the streets going door to door in her Berkeley neighborhood and at local job sites selling tamales. 

“I would knock on doors and introduce myself” after picking up her two young sons from school, Villanueva told the Mercury News. “Some of them became huge customers.”

Thanks to the help of San Francisco-based kitchen incubator La Cocina, who is also her partner in the contract with Chase Center, Villanueva’s dream is slowly becoming a reality.

Credit: @santacruzsentinel / Twitter

Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas is now getting its time in the spotlight thanks to its partnership with La Cocina, a nonprofit that provides kitchen space and financial training for talented women entrepreneurs. There was also assistance from the Opportunity Fund, another nonprofit that lends money to entrepreneurs who might not qualify for certain loans from other banks. Thanks to that money, Villanueva has taken her tamale business from her Berkeley kitchen to a new 6,000-square-foot facility in Hayward, where she and her 24 employees are able to make 40,000 tamales a month.

“We have a moral obligation to say yes to people like Alicia,” Luz Urrutia, CEO of San Jose-based Opportunity Fund told the Mercury News. “She embodies the American dream, the entrepreneurial spirit.” She says that when entrepreneurs like Villanueva get financial assistance it creates a “ripple effect in our communities.”

All she ever wanted was for someone to take a chance on her tamales and now this the start of what Villanueva hopes is a growing food business that has been years in the making. 

Credit: @juansaaa / Twitter

The sky now seems to be the limit for Villanueva as she is looking to grow even more. As of now, she is having conversations with Whole Foods to hopefully sell her frozen tamales at hot bars in certain stores this December. This will be in addition to the tamales she already sells at Berkeley Bowl and UC Berkeley.

With an increasing demand for her tamales, there is also an opportunity to try new things like introducing organic and vegan options. As well as having her business become zero waste and hopefully start a community garden for the public. 

Things are moving quickly for Villanueva and her family, who assist her every day making tamales, as the business has come full circle after years of just getting by. Tamal orders are coming in every day and with her new partnership with the Warriors, who just last week asked her to deliver 5,000 tamales to the Chase Center, things are finally falling into place. 

“I just can’t believe it,” Villanueva said while showcasing all of her new cooking equipment she was able to purchase due to the loan. “I’m living a beautiful dream.”

READ: Selena Gomez And Hailey Baldwin Just Had Another Interaction And You Might Be Shocked By What Happened Here

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