Mexican tradition arrives to Oregon’s Farmers Markets

Mexican tradition arrives to Oregon’s Farmers Markets

Inspired by the Mexican entrepreneurs that brought their family recipes to California in the 1960’s, Araceli de la Cruz mixes a batch of ground sweetcorn by hand as she prepares tamales for a banquet celebration she’s catering the next day in Beaverton, Oregon.

Araceli shares her excitement as her business grows into its third year from selling tamales one day a week at the Hillsboro Farmers market, to expanding to markets several days a week in Beaverton, Forest Grove, and Aloha and managing several catering orders. “On my first day in business I only made $60, but I stuck with it for the love of my recipes and determination to sustain my family. Now I make a living seeing the joy in my customers’ faces as they lick their fingers and savor the traditional pork, chicken, vegetarian, green-chile and sweetcorn tamales that my mother taught me to make when I was a girl living in Jalisco, Mexico. Being at the markets sharing Mexico’s traditional flavors with people from Oregon and all over the world energizes me and makes me proud to be part of the local community.”

Araceli started her dream of becoming an entrepreneur while working in Mexican restaurants in Oregon and SW Washington learning the food service trade and business operations. After 12 years of demanding hours and with a desire to improve her standard of living and spend more time with her children, Araceli decided to enroll in Adelante Mujeres’ 10-week entrepreneurs program to learn how she could work for herself. Adelante Mujeres (Women Rise Up, Move Forward), a non-profit organization, was awarded one of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) PRIME (Program for Investment in Micro-Enterprise) grants for providing business education and empowerment opportunities to low income Latina women to ensure their full participation and leadership in the community. The SBA awards PRIME grants to organizations that help low-income entrepreneurs with training and education to gain access to capital to establish and expand their small businesses.

Through the training received at Adelante Mujeres, Araceli learned how to develop her product for market and pitch her business plan to start-up funding sources to pay for her initial business license and permits. “I learned how to use the SBA’s Spanish language website and discovered resources to develop my business plan, find a commercial kitchen to prepare my food, learn how to manage my accounts, apply marketing techniques to promote my business to new customers, and network with the SBA’s resource partners. As an entrepreneur, I am always learning how to improve my business. My next goal is to open a tamale café and I know that I can count on the SBA to support my journey.”

Araceli’s confidence has grown as a business owner and she takes pride in being a role model to her   son and daughter as she goes to night school to get her GED, improve her English and learn to better manage her business’s finances. She also enjoys the support from her husband and father as they help set up her market stands and encourage her to continue her entrepreneurial education. Araceli is grateful to God for her success and says that the hard work has been worth it. She’s proud to be at a point where she can give back to the community by buying produce from the local farmers for her tamales, providing food for local school fundraisers and providing mentorship for future Adelante Mujeres’ business course graduates.  “Owning a business is hard work that keeps your mind busy 24-hours a day.  My advice to future entrepreneurs is to choose a product that you love with all of your heart and that you are ready to share.”

  • For more information about the SBA’s resources in Spanish visit:
  • For more information about the SBA in English visit:
  • For more information about the SBA’s PRIME grants visit:
  • Haga clic aquí para español