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Meet Melanie Fuentes of ChilOSO Gummy Bear in Winnetka

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melanie Fuentes.

Melanie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
The entrepreneur in me started at a very young age. I vividly remember being 11 years old and wanting a new black bedroom set but my mother insisted on baby blue or nothing. So I opted for nothing. That summer I started my first summer job in a program called Clean and Green and ended up buying my own BLACK bedroom set. It was then when I realized that the only way to get what I wanted in life was to work hard. In the following years I was employed by many different companies but always had my side hustle. As a teen I sold candy, old toys, basically anything I could, then as an adult I started making polymer clay dollhouse miniature food and was surprisingly very good at it. I sold pieces worldwide and even had some of my work published in magazines. I thought I had found my niche. That all changed with the birth of my first child. I quickly realized that there was simply no room in my life for dollhouse miniatures AND children. The hours and hours once spent on a single clay piece was now dedicated to my babies. The entrepreneur in me went dormant for a year and then it happened. I discovered a hidden talent. Being a first time mom, I went all out on my daughter’s first birthday party, a little over the top some might say. Everything was DIY including the candy buffet. I had no idea what I was doing but knew I enjoyed it and had a knack for it. That’s when the entrepreneur in me resurfaced. I started baking cake pops and other treats for friends and before I knew it had my own clientele. I had a side hustle again and life was good. Life of course always throws us a curve ball. When I planned on having a second child so soon after my first I never realized just how expensive it would really be. Having 2 kids in diapers and daycare was financially draining and the cake pops just weren’t cutting it anymore. To put it frankly, I needed diaper money and I knew I needed to add more to my menu. Something new, something different, I searched the internet for days and came across a slew of items until I discovered koolaid gummy bears and spicy gummy bears. Most don’t know this but Chili gummy bears have been around for 30 plus years. Kids in high school use to make them. I knew then it would be a hit. I spent days trying different combinations of spices. My kitchen looked like a chemistry lab. I had never tasted Chili gummy bears before so I had no idea what flavor I was going for. Then one day my husband and I were trying out my latest concoction and after one look at each other we knew we were both thinking the same thing……. JACKPOT!

I started to sell them to co-workers and friends and slowly started offering them to my Instagram followers. Sales were good but nothing great. Fast Forward two years to when I started vending with a popup shop called Molcajete Dominguero that was the turning point of my business. I realized that with a lot of heart and hustle I could turn my side hustle into a career. It’s now been a few years of amazing continuous support from my loyal customers whom I appreciate so much and while I haven’t had the courage to quit my day job (yet), I believe big things are coming for ChilOSO. When you want something bad enough you have to put it out in the universe. I’m ready universe! Bring it on.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Being a mompreneur is the toughest job there is. Finding a balance between work and family is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. There have been many times I’ve almost quit because I’ve felt I’m neglecting my kids. Luckily I’m blessed to have some amazing comadres (friends) that have reminded me that quitting is not an option. That my babies will grow up seeing how hard I worked for them and that if you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything.

ChilOSO Gummy Bear – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
ChilOSO Gummy Bears sells a variety of gourmet spicy chili candy, ranging from gummy bears to dried fruit and even chili apples. I am most known for my twist on the chili gummy bears with the most popular flavors currently being mango and watermelon.

What am I most proud of? That’s a good question. I’d have to say I take pride in the fact that I am a one woman show. I do everything on my own, from the website to the marketing, and down to making and packaging. It’s tough at times but I always manage to keep my customer service standards high because at the end of the day, without my customers there would be no ChilOSO.

What sets me apart? The fact that some of my ingredients are homemade vs store bought. You’ll just have to try them for yourselves and see why my slogan is….. BET YOU CAN’T HAVE JUST ONE. 😊

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success to me, means making new goals and reaching them no matter how big or small. I’ve been blessed in the sense that my smaller target goals have been reached. I’m currently working on getting ChilOSO in a big chain store. It hasn’t been easy but as long as I give it my all, no matter what the outcome is I will be proud.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @ChilOSOgummybear
  • Facebook: ChilOSO Gummy Bear

Image Credit:
Melanie Fuentes

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Savannah Delgado

    September 4, 2018 at 23:04

    What a great story!!! I love hearing about small gems in the city.
    Frijolito’s Mobile Coffee is another good small gem. It’s a Mobile espresso bar that I’ve seen in Orange County and LA.
    District Los Angeles candles is great as well! Such a cute concept of candles that keep the scents of Los Angeles on lock.

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