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Meet Nancy Mendoza of Queso Con Loroco in San Fernando Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nancy Mendoza.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Nancy. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up in the San Fernando Valley and I’m originally from El Salvador. After high school, I went to a community college and transferred to a university. As I navigated college life, I realized that being a first-generation college student meant that I would have challenges and obstacles to overcome. One was not knowing what colleges I was eligible for and not having enough resources. That is how I decided to pursue a career in the counseling field. I’ve been working as a high school counselor for the past six years. My work is with Latino students who are first in their family to go to college and need help accessing the resources to apply to college.

Last year, after a few changes in my personal and career life, I felt like something was missing and I felt I needed to reconnect with myself. I realized that I didn’t feel fulfilled or connected to my roots as I wanted to be. I had ideas for shirts but they always remained as ideas and after a conversation and encouragement from a dear friend, I finally decided to take a leap of faith. That is when my Salvadoran inspired clothing brand, Queso Con Loroco, came to life. Growing up, I only had a soccer jersey from El Salvador to represent who I was. I wore the soccer jersey throughout high school, college, and grad school. My hope was that the jersey would help me connect with other Latina women with a similar experience. Creating my brand was a way to reconnect with myself and represent a group of people that are often not represented in popular media through clothing, music, or art.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Starting a business has been a lot of trial and error. At times, being the first at anything in your family can be challenging and starting a business was not the exception. Not knowing where to begin was the most challenging and learning about the legalities that arise with starting a business in California was the first challenge. Besides forming a business, learning about the people that follow the brand and learning about what resonates with them has also been a challenge. Most of what I do is based on social media and for the longest time, I was hesitant to be on social media and that was because of the nature of my work. Because I’ve always worked with high school students, I wanted to keep my online presence to a minimum.

When I joined in January, not only did I have to learn how to market my brand and maintain an online presence, learning about Instagram was also a learning curve. Thankfully, I had plenty of support from other online shops and the wide array of online resources was also helpful. Balancing my time between my full-time job and managing my brand has also been challenging. Managing a clothing brand and online store requires a lot of time, planning and commitment. But it’s all amazing work that I wouldn’t trade for anything else. I have the opportunity to do things that I love, work with students and create a brand that taps into my creativity, inspiration, and my roots.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Queso Con Loroco is a Salvadoran inspired clothing brand. My goal is to inspire Salvadoran women to be seen and heard through our products. I’ve created tote bags, hats, and t-shirts that resonate with Salvadorans who are also trying to reconnect with their roots. Often times, people from El Salvador are grouped with other ethnicities and are not represented in a positive light or represented at all. The idea for Queso Con Loroco arose from a feeling of wanting to reconnect with my Salvadoran heritage and the need to be seen. There are many amazing Salvadoran clothing brands and Instagram accounts who started this movement and joined earlier than I did.

What sets my brand apart is that my focus is to inspire Salvadoran women to be proud of who they are. I’m proud that my brand has resonated with other Salvadoran women and that they want to take their shirts to places where they know they may be the only Salvadorans there. When I found out young women were taking their shirts to university orientations, first day of school, and other important events, that’s when I felt the most proud of the brand. Although I’m in the early stages of developing the brand, that was my measure for success.

Without saying what my values were as a young Salvadoran woman, other young women gravitated towards the brand and that’s all I could have ever hoped for. Queso Con Loroco is a type of pupusa, the specialty dish of El Salvador. I wanted a brand name that would be familiar to Salvadorans and one that would resonate. The name encompasses exactly what I hope the brand is to Salvadorans, familiarity, home, and a sense of pride.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
This is a tough question because I don’t think I would change anything. Despite the challenges, I’ve grown so much as a person in the last six months and I’ve been forced out of my comfort zone. As a result, that has trickled into other aspects of my personal life. A lesson I learned is to ask for help, it’s out there and I can’t be afraid to ask. There are people who are more knowledgeable and have more experience than I have. I’ve had to learn to tap into resources and connect with other brands and stores. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with people’s willingness to help and support the brand.

If I had to start over, I would encourage myself to be brave and be unafraid of what is to come. I jumped into starting a business and creating a brand without any prior business or marketing experience. As a counselor, my only training is on connecting and listening to people. I hope that training alone will help me connect with others whose values resonate with my brand. I don’t believe anything else could have better prepared me for this journey.

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Image Credit:
Nancy Mendoza

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  1. Jennifer

    October 24, 2019 at 04:07

    Thank you for representing us so well! Love your brand and what it represents to other Salvi’s.

  2. Maria Alfaro

    October 24, 2019 at 14:25

    It is very true that us Salvadorans are not represented as much as other Latino countries. As a Salvadoran woman, I love this & the representation for us as women!

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