Colorado Latino/as to Know and Support: September 2022
Lola Wiarco Dweck is the founder and publisher of Lola’s Cocina, a food and travel blog dedicated to sharing Mexico’s rich culinary traditions and cherished family recipes. Lola develops original recipes for national brands and teaches themed cooking classes while educating her audience about Mexican culture.
Lola also operates Lola’s Mercadito, an online marketplace specializing in gourmet and personally curated items that celebrate Mexican food and culture. It is rated a top shop for gifts on Etsy. Her Salsa Negra was named one of the best jarred salsas in the country by Mexican food experts on Thrillist.com. Lola’s work in the food world and as a Latina leader and mother has been highlighted in interviews and publications including OprahMag.com, New York Magazine, Thrillist, Chowhound, Parents Latina, Mitú, and Red Tricycle. She was recently recognized as 1 of 12 Latina Influencers to follow on Instagram by OprahMag.com and 1 of 14 Latino owned businesses disrupting the food industry by Mitú. Provoke Weekly also named her an "everyday Latina leader making a difference."
Lola is a California native who currently lives in Highlands Ranch, CO with her husband and their bilingual children. She has a dual master’s degree in business administration and Latin American studies. When she's not working, Lola enjoys traveling, exploring new restaurants, and practicing yoga.
When and why did you found Lola's Cocina and Lola's Mercadito?
I started Lola's Cocina in 2014 and Lola's Mercadito in 2017. Lola’s Cocina started off as a hobby website with the goal of growing into a medium that promoted other business opportunities. From the onset it served as a resource for people interested in Mexican food, culture, and cooking by providing my favorite family recipes. Eventually, it set the stage to expand into themed cooking classes and recipe development as well as an online shop, Lola's Mercadito, which specializes in gourmet goods with Mexican flavor and other personally curated Mexican products for the home and kitchen.
What sets your business apart from others? Lola's Cocina focuses specifically on Mexican recipes and cultural experiences, which appeals to not only cooks and food enthusiasts, but also to culinary tourists. Beyond the recipes, people are able to engage in private or group cooking classes to expand their knowledge in the realm of cooking or purchase beautiful, handcrafted products from my shop, Lola's Mercadito. Essentially, I offer a well-rounded and diversified experience for people to learn about or stay connected to Mexican culture!
Is your heritage/culture/identity a part of your business? What do you hope to share?
My Mexican heritage inspires everything from the recipes I share to the way I decorate my home and raise my children. My work through Lola's Cocina allows me to shine a spotlight on the people, places, and food that can be misunderstood and sometimes vilified. I will always dedicate my work to being an ambassador of positivity for my culture.
Being a small business owner is not easy. What challenges have you faced? What motivated you to keep going?
I used to believe that working for a global corporation was the stamp of success. In reality, being in business for myself and creating my own brand has been the truest mark of success for me. With Lola's Cocina, the big brands approach me and I feel in control of my own schedule and values. I gave up trying to fit into corporate cultures where I wasn't able to be myself every day. I started my own business and created a work environment where the values that are important to me are reflected everyday, such as supporting women of color by hiring them and building partnerships with women from different industries (E.g., Chaffey College and Disney's Multicultural Women's Network.)
What is the most joyful part of your business?
As a business owner, I can identify what success means to me. The fact that I can step away from work and spend the entire summer in Mexico with my children is why I do what I do. I'm not trying to work myself to the grave.
What are you most proud of?
On a professional level, I'm proud that I've reached a level of success where I feel comfortable walking away from opportunities that do not serve me. I know my worth and don't allow companies or people to dictate what I can or should be charging for what I do. On a personal level, it makes me extremely proud that my children are bilingual and are being raised to appreciate and love their multicultural background.
What qualities, characteristics, or people have contributed to your success?
Integrity, honest pricing, true love for people, and a desire for each person's wholeness.
What advice do you for others who want to start their own business?
Invest in yourself, whatever that means to you. For me this meant investing in my education and my business. It's also important to use your network and the people that you know to get where you need to be; young women need to harness their personal network. Social media is great but really step outside your comfort zone and connect by picking up the phone and asking for what you need. Don't assume people know what you want. It's also important to uplift others. No matter what role you're in, serve as a mentor to the next generation.
If you have anything else to share with us, please do so!
I forgot to mention that I'm a plant lover too! I'm actually a plant grandma. (Several of my plants have had babies that I've sent to new homes). I think this stems from spending summers in Mexico where we are surrounded by beautiful flowers, gardens, and greenery. When I moved from California to Colorado, I filled my home with plants because I needed to see something (anything!) alive when everything dies in the winter. Over the years, I've learned that caring for my plants has served as a form of self-care for me as well. Watering my plantitas once a week allows me to step away from the chaos of life and simply focus on my plants. My children are also little plant lovers.
Visit our website!
Facebook: Lola's Cocina
Pinterest: Dolores Wiarco Dweck
Etsy: Lola's Mercadito
All images are the property of Dolores Wiarco Dweck.
Some content may have been edited for clarity.