In Being Latina, Career, Interviews

How This Entrepreneur’s Catering Business Became Rooted in Latin Flavors

Name: Lucia Rios

Nickname: Lulu

Founder of Twisted Cotton Candy

Words to live by: This too shall pass (my momma told me this growing up). Each head is its own world — a saying from my grandma.

Interview by Zaida Diaz

When did you decide to make Twisted a business?

I knew I always wanted it to be a business. Initially I did not imagine it becoming what it is now. Through my business I have healed and empowered myself in many ways. It has allowed me to heal from postpartum depression (which is why this whole thing started). I’ve also been able to embrace my truest self. Throughout the process I’ve learned that I don’t have full control and I have to let go and listen to the direction that God sends me. This has definitely been an intellectual and spiritual journey for me.

How did the idea of combining cotton candy and Latin flavors come about?

It was partially accident and partially instinct. After purchasing about $600 worth of cotton candy sugars in flavors like green tea and lavender (flavors that were on the menu of existing similar businesses) I quickly discovered that these were, to put it nicely, not my taste. While I was practicing on a watermelon flavor I had friends over and we had some Mexican candy on our kitchen table from a kids party the day before. My friend asked if I had Tajin. I was like, ‘DUH of course I do!’ He proceeded to sprinkle some on his cotton candy and as soon as we tasted it, it was like the most luminous light bulb went off in my head.

After they left I grabbed my composition book where I had been writing my business plan. I ripped out all previous ideas and started fresh. I knew then that I had to do what resonated with me and my LATINA roots! I knew that I had to recreate our yummy flavors in cotton candy form. That’s when I started my concept of Latin-inspired flavored cotton candy. It sparked a passion and it was genuine to myself entirely, which is why I feel like it flowed so smoothly. I stopped allowing outside influences in and started listening to my gut (LITERALLY lol).

 

Where you ever hesitant or did you ever doubt yourself throughout the process of building your business? How did you overcome this?

ABSOLUTELY! This is a continuous dance that I believe many entrepreneurs partake in. I regretted starting a business early on when the sugars were so awful. I pouted and then I decided I needed to do it myself. Being the control freak that I am, I learned how to manufacture and make my own sugars. This allowed me much creative freedom and ultimately resulted in a product that was uniquely mine. Surrounding myself with others that also have the same struggles and seeing that I am not alone definitely helps. We absorb energy like osmosis if we need to be positive and uplifted than we need to surround ourselves with that.

As an entrepreneur, what has been the most important lesson you’ve learned throughout the process of building your company?

BE PATIENT! You never get what is not asked. Also, self care is so incredibly important! All of which I am not perfect at, but am consciously trying to remind myself of.

What has been key to helping your business grow?

Being flexible yet true to my self and the vision. As I mentioned, I started with a goal that changed over a couple of months. What I thought my business could be wasn’t what was planned for me already. I had to learn to listen to my intuition and customers and become open to what God put in my path.

What goals/milestones are you most proud of?

I truly and honestly appreciate each and every event that I participate in because I continuously get to see how much people believe in me and how invested they are in my brand. However, there are a couple that I would definitely consider top experiences:

I catered the opening reception party of the We All Grow Latina Network Conference. Not only was this impactful for the connections and opportunities that came as a direct result, but I was also exposed to powerful, strong and confident Latinas who ALL were so encouraging and supportive. I had never seen a whole world of women that were spiritual, proud, beautiful, intelligent and overall chingonas.

The second was our Mitu video. It opened a whole door of press and honestly it was the first time I felt as if I truly made my mother proud. She tells me all the time how proud she is, but I never really felt that I did until then. When the video came out and she went into work and a flood of co-workers began congratulating her and asking if that was HER daughter in the video it made me so happy to hear that she had that response at work. I know she struggles as I do in feeling like an adequate parent so to hear from outsiders praise you on your child is definitely an ego boost and I love that she felt that!

 

What new goals have you set for your company?

I have a few projects in the works which are new goals in themselves, but I want to eventually expand to be able to service several events at the same time.

What new goals have you set for yourself as an entrepreneur?

Organizing finances and setting a schedule. I started wanting to do this 24/7. Now I realize I need to schedule in a work day and a free day now and then because it’s really unhealthy to be running on empty with two young kids.

Being an entrepreneur is exhausting work, what are some ways that you refuel?

I try to meditate. I also practice gratitude and a couple of times a month I “forget” my phone so I can be truly present wherever my family and I are (even if it’s just grocery shopping). Doing this helps me focus on the quality time. I treasure free time so much more than I ever have!

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