The Sweet Purchasing Power of Latinos

Eve Rodriguez Montoya is the VP of Branding for Dulcelandia candy stores. She is also the creator of Yogolandia Yogurt and Botana Bar, and Rodriguez Media Communications Inc.

What is Dulcelandia and how are you modernizing it?
My dad started Dulcelandia in 1995, after NAFTA passed. Dulcelandia is a candy store. We import candy and pinatas from Mexico. He was able to do so after learning the process of importing [product]. And so really bringing that nostalgia that people might have grown up with a particular candy or a particular pinata. That's basically what his focus was: bringing products from Mexico that weren't readily available in the US. He opened a number of candy shops and now in our 23 year I was trying to find a way to bring the business into the next generation and see what other products we could create that would maybe bring in another group of consumers. And I know that I was a big fan of frozen yogurt. It's healthy, it's delicious and it could be a great combination to the Mexican candy. And that's how I created Yogolandia.

I felt that our candy shops are located in a lot of communities where there aren't necessarily a lot of healthy options. With the yogurt bar, we would have fresh fruit, cereal and granola available, alongside candy from Dulcelandia. It’s the perfect infusion of candy we import from Mexico, and an opportunity to offer our consumers a line of Mexican-flavored frozen yogurt that has never existed before. Like pepino, horchata, flan and mango.

It's an immersion of the two cultures. People can enjoy Dulcelandia via Yogolandia which is the new generation of the business.

What’s one business lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way?
In a business like Dulcelandia and Yogolandia, you have to collaborate with a lot of people and you have to make sure that you're inclusive, and you create an environment where individuals are excited about coming to work. You have to motivate your team to be excited about the products and services that you're offering. It was a big business lesson in terms of making sure that I had the capacity to really just include everyone, teach everyone and show why it's a good and excited product. It’s not something you can take on by yourself which is what I was accustomed to doing.

What's some advice that you would give to your younger, eighteen year old self?
Be courageous. Always take whatever opportunity comes my way and just go for it. Don’t question, feel insecure, or like you’re not able to accomplish that task. Really just go for it. Say yes more. I feel like when we're younger we question ourselves so much. It’s better to be courageous and say you know what, if I'm successful, then great, if not, there's always a take-away. There's always a lesson you can learn from it and then you can do better next time. But you'll never know unless you actually go ahead and try.

What are you seeing in the industry and what is the biggest challenge in the industry right now?
People should really be paying attention to the growing Latino market. I think that it just transcends so many different industries and it's an important, powerful group. We're big consumers and we're continuing to be bigger decision makers. Catering to Latino culture is an advantage, an opportunity.

A little bit of a challenge is sometimes the language barrier. Companies need to make sure they are finding the right way to communicate to this growing sector of the Latino community. Hiring the right people to make sure that they can effectively communicate their message is a challenge every brand should undertake.

The video portion of this interview ran on Entrepreneur.com on April 25, 2018: How to Grow Your Business by Knowing Your Audience.