Every year, the U.S. observes Hispanic Heritage Month from September to October. The celebration got its start in California when congressman George. E. Brown introduced legislation to create a week acknowledging the positive contributions of the Hispanic community. That same year, President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed September 17, 1968, as Hispanic Heritage Week.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan extended the holiday, declaring September 15 – October 15th Hispanic Heritage Month. There is significance to these dates as September 15 marks the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Hispanic Heritage Month provides an opportunity to honor individuals of Hispanic descent as well as highlight their culture, traditions, and impact. Today, almost five million businesses in the United States are Hispanic-owned and bring in more than $800 billion dollars each year. Most small businesses have limited resources, making your support crucial. When you buy from these brands, not only are you stimulating the economy, but you’re making it possible for these mom-and-pop shops to stay afloat.
We wanted to highlight five small Hispanic-owned businesses that are providing innovative products and services as well as ushering in more representation in their respective industries.
Bonita Fierce Candles is creating candles inspired by Hispanic culture
Melissa Gallardo, a Salvadoran-American, created her own brand in 2020 called Bonita Fierce Candles. The small business creates scented candles with distinct aromas that Melissa grew up around. Her candle range includes a variety of warming and calming scents, including ‘cafecito con leche,’ which is inspired by Latin American coffee, ‘coquito,’ a scent reminiscent of traditional Puerto Rican eggnog, and ‘abuelas bakery,’ a candle meant to make you nostalgic for home.
On the company’s website, Melissa discusses how she’s struggled in the past to connect with her heritage but found solace with the Latin American community after she graduated college. When the pandemic hit soon after, she began making candles as a quarantine hobby and realized most candles on the market did not represent the various scents she grew up with, which led her to open up Bonita Fierce Candles as a way to celebrate Latina heritage at home.
For the rest of Hispanic Heritage Month, Bonita Fierce Candles is offering twenty percent off its products along with free shipping.
Alter Eco’s chocolate is fighting back against climate change
Alter Eco is a small business that is revolutionizing the chocolate industry. Their slogan is “the cleanest, greenest chocolate,” as the company’s mission is to create food that nourishes the Earth rather than depleting it. They work on small-scale fair trade farms, practice dynamic forestry, which can mitigate climate change, and launched the world’s first commercially compostable candy wrapper in 2013, to name just a few of their many sustainable practices.
While the brand has a range of chocolate products and also sells quinoa and granola, they created new limited edition items with A Dozen Cousins in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month: hot cocoa bombs. The product can be bought in two flavors, Mexican Hot Chocolate and White Chocolate Coquito.
In a newsletter announcing the collaboration, Alter Eco’s CEO Arnulfo Ventura reminisced on his own childhood, “Growing up my mom cooked dishes native to her hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico. When we were lucky, the aroma of simmering Mexican hot cocoa filled the kitchen.”
Alter Eco is donating all proceeds from this collaboration to hurricane relief in Puerto Rico.
TOA Waters is shaking up the bubble bath industry
Most bubble bath products contain floral scents, something Javier Folgar wanted to change. As someone who takes bubble baths himself, the entrepreneur is on a mission to end the social stigma around men enjoying baths, which led to the creation of his small business, Toa Waters. The company is named after a Cuban river – a nod to Javier’s heritage.
Tao Waters bubble baths come in a variety of bold scents, including teakwood, rum, sandalwood, and tobacco. All of the products are vegan and made with organic and responsibly sourced ingredients. Customers can feel extra good about supporting this brand as the small business has partnered with several deserving causes, including the American Cancer Society. They’ve also donated ten percent of proceeds from their Sweet Temptation line to the Ukrainian red cross.
El Comalito is serving authentic Salvadorian food
Pupuseria El Comalito is an artisanal Salvadorian pupuseria, or tortilla shop, with several locations throughout Maryland. They prepare their food with a traditional cooking process from El Salvador, making their cuisine authentic and delicious. Silvia Huezo is the current owner of the pupuseria and inherited the business from her parents. She immigrated to the United States with her family when she was only six years old.
By the time she was in high school, her mom and dad had opened up the first location of the restaurant. Now, all these years later, the family owns four locations, and their food has been a staple for the Salvadoran community in Maryland.
Silvia was interviewed by a local Maryland business association in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and said she was happy to take on her parent’s legacy. She also spoke about what it’s like being a Latina entrepreneur. “One of the things that I am most proud of as a Latina is our resilience and tenacity,” she said. “Our unwavering disposition to never give up! Whether it’s unstable political climates in our homelands, poverty, lack of acceptance … we continue to get up, dust off and carry on.”
El Ballet Folklórico Estudiantil is passing down traditions through the arts
El Ballet Folklórico Estudiantil, translated to The Student Folkloric Ballet, is a nonprofit organization in Michigan that preserves Mexican culture and educates its students on Mexican folkloric dance and music. The Ballet then performs these very dances throughout Michigan, bringing more cultural awareness to the community. They also provide private and group lessons for students wanting to learn instruments.
The organization’s goal is not only to help students embrace their heritage, but to also provide them with structured community programs that can help them become well-rounded individuals. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Ballet performed at a local community center on October 7th.
We love highlighting diverse voices at Buffer and appreciate all the good these five brands are doing, all while staying true to their roots. Remember, these businesses deserve your support beyond Hispanic Heritage Month, but all year round.
While purchasing their products is the most impactful way to help these small businesses, there are other ways to show your support, like sharing these brands with your friends and family on social media and leaving reviews for their products and services.