Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Belén Rodríguez, founder, and CEO of Quebracho, located in St. Paul, MN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
At Quebracho, we specialize in authentic Argentinian recipes ready for people to enjoy at home. We do so today by means of our empanadas, which I learned how to make with my grandmother Iaia (YAH-yah) back home in Argentina.
I moved to the US in 2012 and started cooking for friends and my American family as a way of coping with homesickness. This hobby quickly turned into a desire to start my own food business. We opened Quebracho as a Holiday farmer's market booth in the winter of 2018. We slowly grew as a catering company, but when the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to shut down, I quickly took on the opportunity to start a consumer brand and continue bringing my grandma's empanadas to more people.
So many of us need the practicality of a frozen item but don't want to rely on highly processed foods. Our empanadas are a wonderful item that you can keep in your freezer and heat up in just 20 minutes for a wholesome meal. I kept the recipes virtually the same and didn't add any preservatives, artificial flavors, or coloring. I also don't add any sugar to the pastry or fillings.
We currently offer them in 3 simple yet extremely flavorful options: spinach with ricotta cheese chicken with soffrito, herbs and béchamel sauce, and a saucy beef mix with earthy notes of cumin and paprika. Today, you can find them in the frozen section of 120 stores across six states, and we hope to continue expanding so that more and more people can enjoy my grandma's recipes.
Tell us about yourself
My main motivation is the idea of being able to share a piece of who I am and where I come from. One of the things I enjoy doing the most is talking to people and telling them my story and family anecdotes while they sample our empanada at a local store. We have folks that stay and chat for close to half an hour just because they are enjoying themselves. And that is exactly what I want to achieve and where I find joy –the connecting, the storytelling, and sharing a moment together.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Never give up because the moment I do is when I stop doing what I love and automatically lose the relationships I've created in these past three years.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
As a startup Founder, you always find challenges when growing your company, but if there is one thing that I'd say was the hardest is how lonely the journey of a CEO can be at times. It can be hard to be the wearer of all hats, the maker of all decisions (good and bad), and not have anyone to talk to. As Quebracho grew and my network expanded, I got to meet some wonderful people that have stood beside me for anything I needed. It's definitely made the journey better.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Ask for help! If someone can't help, they most likely know someone who might be able to.
- Put on blinders on –It's easy to get distracted by what other people are doing. Don't compare yourself to others and believe in what you are building.
- Be kind to yourself –Building a company takes time, and you will undoubtedly make mistakes (it's part of the journey), so don't be hard on yourself. Everybody had to learn to where they are at today.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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