Four Latinas are looking to change the dynamic of local markets.
What started as a friendship among small-business owners has turned into a collaboration looking to uplift Latina entrepreneurs who want to share their goods with the community. They go by the name Las Mujeres Verdes.
“When I started doing events, there [were] a lot of events that I was like, ‘Well if I could do events, I wouldn't do it this way [or] I would do it this way.’ I started taking notes,” said Angelica Duran, owner of Raizes 420. Her business, which focuses on holistic healing, offers candles that melt into CBD-infused lotion for pain, eczema and other ailments.
This past year, Duran connected with Gissel Guzman Parra, owner of vegan food pop-up Nopalinda. Duran said that because their values aligned, she asked Guzman Parra what she thought of doing events together.
“I’m trying to show our community that you don’t have to eat animal products to be healthy, or to get protein, and I also want to show them that it’s accessible,” Guzman Parra said.
“We both said ‘yes’,” Duran said.
“I said we [could] go off each other and start doing these [events] to help our community, to help small businesses that are starting up and give them a safe space to come promote their products,” Duran said.
The four had the same vision and passion toward their culture and community. They wanted to create a space that felt inclusive and accessible for the vendors of color, in a way that encourages growth, collaboration and more opportunities.
“When we say ‘more of us,’ it’s more of, we’re not gonna allow them to have to fight to have a seat at our table,” Guzman Parra said. “They’re welcome to come eat with us.”
Things such as obtaining business licenses may seem overwhelming or ridiculously expensive for new business owners, Guzman Parra said. Las Mujeres Verdes want to serve as a stepping stone for those within the small-business community.
“We want to see the money return to the community,” Guzman Parra said.
“We didn’t have these opportunities. We created them ourselves and we are bringing the community with us,” Cruz said.
Serving as a safe space, Las Mujeres Verdes host their markets in partnership with Flowers & Bullets, an organization whose mission is “to reclaim and amplify our cultural roots through sustainability, art and rebellion to liberate, heal and empower our community.” Located in Barrio Centro, Flowers & Bullets maintains an agriculture garden to share and teach the community sustainable living practices to combat social justice issues.
“Everybody and anybody [who] has been to our events have always [called] them peaceful, with good vibes,” Duran said. “That’s why we do it, because we want them to have a calm, safe, no-stress [experience].”
The women pride themselves on being hands-on in making sure vendors are OK.
“We know where we came from and what we want,” Dominguez said. “I think it’s something that everybody admires from us.”
In addition to supporting vendors of color, they consider themselves to be pro-cannabis activists. The name Las Mujeres Verdes, which began as a joke, embodied their shared beliefs in fighting against the stigma surrounding cannabis in their culture.
“Cannabis is something that [is] grown from the earth,” Duran said. “If people did research, they would understand all the healing properties not only for your body, but for your mental stability.”
Based on their own experiences with the plant, the group promotes alternatives to Western medicine. Their respective small businesses, in turn, have taken a mind-body approach focused on social justice and accessibility.
One of their most recent events, on Saturday, Nov. 19, was their largest market since the first one they held in May, with around 60 independent vendors sharing food, handmade goods and more. Las Mujeres Verdes also worked with South Tucson Community Outreach, a food assistance group, to collect food donations at their November market.
Cruz said that other organizations have reached out and asked for help with their prospective markets. “[We want to] grow in all of the ways that we can.”
Duran said she sometimes forgets about her own booth while she oversees the flow of the event. Excited and nervous, though, the four are eager for upcoming events. “I want people to see that we were four women dedicated to our culture and helping the community.”