SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – During Hispanic Heritage Month the Hispanic Alliance in the Upstate is highlighting Latino business owners and their contributions to continue to enrich the community.
“I came to Greenville in 1999 and there really weren’t that many, or at least from what I could see, there weren’t that many Hispanic business owners,” said Sara Montero-Buria, of the Hispanic Alliance. “Seeing the explosion that we’ve had, I am so proud of all the progress that the business individuals are doing and how they are giving back to their community.”
CocoBowlz: Scaling Up for Success
“My father left Ecuador. He was an architect there [and] he took a risk for his family. So it’s kind of funny that I kind of did the same thing,” said Daniel Morales, CEO and President of CocoBowlz.
Just like his parents, Morales and his wife, Jennifer Morales, took a risk for their family’s future. The couple left their steady jobs as nurses in New Jersey, moved to Greenville and launched CocoBowlz.
Morales says he used his Ecuadorian heritage as inspiration for the menu.
“Being Hispanic we wanted to do something like Spanish food,” he told 7News. “We also wanted to do something that was true to us. Me and my wife, we like to workout [and] we like to eat healthy.”
In less than a year, CocoBowlz grew from a food truck on the Liberty Bridge to the food court at the Haywood Mall.
“If it wasn’t for Greenville I would say there would be no CocoBowlz,” Morales told 7News.
Unlocked Coffee Roasters: A Fresh Start-Up
“Being Hispanic, coming from another country and being able to support and actually create jobs for people here, we are really honored to do that,” said Carlos Camargo, the owner Unlocked Coffee Roasters.
Carlos Camargo and his wife, Rocio Salazar, are coffee roasters grinding from the ground up.
“Coming from Colombia, coffee is very huge for us,” Camargo told 7News.
The couple is turning their country’s commodity into an empire in the form of a coffee shop. The shop will be located in West Greenville at 556 Perry Ave.
“Part of the idea is we want to give back to our farmers,” Camargo said. “What we are doing is basically building those relationships with the farmers and that way we can sell Colombian coffee here.”
Camargo says the Upstate has created opportunities for him and now he wants to pay it forward.
“Before it was a really bad area [and] now we want to bring something positive,” he said. “This is a business that really focuses on the community.”
Vachy’s Creations: Flourishing in our Community
“My inspiration comes from my heritage, from my Latino Heritage with all the colors of Mexico,” said Vachy Meraz.
Bold colors, floral prints with an edgy twist. Designer Vachy Meraz takes the colors and soul of Mexico and transforms it into luxury menswear.
“What inspired me was the need for luxury events here in the Upstate for the Latino community,” he told 7News.
For 10 years, the Mexican designer has been dressing the Upstate. However, it wasn’t always from the location on East North Street in Greenville.
“I was working out of my house… my apartment,” Meraz said.
Since opening his store, Vachy’s Creations has exploded.
A year ago, Meraz teamed up with Jas Rosales to expand into party planning. Now the duo is pushing the envelope and turning Hispanic traditions into an affordable reality.
“There was recently a quinceanera, the lady was crying because when someone does something with passion, with love, it transmits,” Rosales told 7News. “It doesn’t matter, you don’t even have to say anything and that’s what we bring to people.”
La Esperanza Bakery, Los Portales Restaurant: Established and Expanding
“This country is a great country. It’s giving you the chance to have those dreams come true. I am proof of that,” said Ricardo Parra, owner of La Esperanza Bakery and Los Portales Mexican Restaurant.
Parra dreamed of owning a restaurant.
While working towards his goal, he stumbled across a gem in the heart of Downtown Greer.
“When I found this spot, I became in love because the patio kind of reminds me of part of my country,” Parra said. “With the brick walls, it’s a beautiful place.”
Through his restaurant, Parra is sharing his Mexican culture with the Upstate in a family-friendly atmosphere that serves traditional dishes.
Parra’s portfolio also includes owning La Esperanza bakery and soon a supermarket in the Upstate. But the Mexican business owner is far from done.
He hopes to be a pillar in the community that opened the doors for him.
“This country created a great part of my life,” he said. “And I would like to contribute to this country the same way they have done with me.”
“Regardless of the empires we build, I think humility is one of the biggest assets that we have,” Rosales said.