Passion and drive are key to starting any new business. However, personal experiences often provide foundational elements that ultimately support success. This is notable for four Latino entrepreneurs — Cecilia Panichelli and Federico Carrillo, Mike Alfaro and Julissa Prado — who say their culture is a key part of who they are and why their businesses have thrived.
During Latino Heritage Month, Target celebrated the Latino community’s cultural influence and contributions by spotlighting these Latino-owned brands and founders and showing that Latino culture is more than meets the eye.
Consider Argentinian immigrants Cecilia Panichelli and Federico Carrillo. A desire to share the culture and flavors of their home country with others is the reason they formed Cocina 54, a frozen empanada business that was founded in 2017.
“We made sure to figure out a way to produce empanadas that still had fresh ingredients and a made-from-scratch recipe,” said Panichelli. “The culture was our biggest inspiration. To create a connection between what people in Argentina eat and what people in America eat, we married various ingredients together to create truly heritage-inspired flavors.”
Cocina 54 is one of more than 80 cross-category products being featured as part of the first-ever Latino Heritage Month product assortment, available now at Target. Imagined and designed by Latino team members, artists and creators, this year’s product assortment features apparel, accessories, beauty and more that highlights themes of family, Latina empowerment and Latino pride.
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, Panichelli and Carrillo share their top tips for success:
1. Do not quit your day job immediately. Hard work makes you nimble and resilient.
2. Talk to other entrepreneurs in the industry and learn from them.
3. Remember to balance family needs and business needs.
Another example of the Latino-owned brands and entrepreneurs featured in the collection is Mike Alfaro, creator of Millennial Lotería, a modern take on the classic Lotería Mexican bingo game. Born and raised in Guatemala City, Guatemala, Alfaro came to the U.S. alone. The first time he shopped in a Target store, he admits it felt “foreign and a bit scary.” Alfaro connected with Target at the LatinXpo, an event that helps Target explore new partnerships with diverse entrepreneurs and businesses.
“I think about going back and seeing my game and it feels like home,” said Alfaro. “And if I had seen products that represented me [when I first immigrated to America], I would have felt less alone.”
Alfaro is achieving his dreams and he wants to encourage others to dream big, too. His tips for entrepreneurs include:
1. Differentiate your product and make sure your consumers know what the difference is at first glance.
2. Take advantage of social media to test out different strategies and messaging.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions from your customers or followers.
For Julissa Prado, her Mexican roots are always a personal and business influence, and it was a fundamental driver behind the creation of her brand, Rizos Curls.
“The inspiration to create Rizos Curls was my own personal [hair] curl journey to learn how to love my natural curl texture,” said Prado. “Latino Heritage Month is every day for me to be honest. So much of the work I do and what motivates my business decisions are rooted in my culture. I am incredibly proud of my roots and family — these are what I love most about my life.”
Prado’s top tips for success include:
1. Everything is negotiable. Challenge outdated rules and don’t be afraid to push back.
2. Make up in creativity what you lack in marketing dollars. Use social media to be a storyteller.
3. Be agile. As a small business you’re able to pivot faster than most larger businesses.
These business owners credit much of their success to their Latino heritage and strive to uplift and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs. They demonstrate that a drive for success is fueled by personal experience and cultural values.
To learn more about these and other Latino entrepreneurs, you can visit Target’s Más Que Hub for inspirational moments of success and resilience from creators, team members and business owners through storytelling and art. You can also learn about Target’s investment of more than $1.1 billion in Latino-owned suppliers, media, strategic partnerships and organizations over the past five years to continue uplifting the community not only during Latino Heritage Month, but year-round.