REPLAY: Nopalera Founder Sandra Velasquez Says If She Can Do It, So Can YOU

Mexican-American CEO Sandra Velasquez is a bona fide, tug-at-your-heart, success story.

She launched her luxe cactus-based botanicals brand during the pandemic (when even her own parents thought she was nuts) and is now slated to bring in a sweet half a million dollars in revenue.

But things weren’t always easy for this single mama and lead singer. Sandra was a longtime musician who was juggling parenting, musical gigs, and her day jobs (PLURAL) when she discovered soapmaking and started dreaming of creating her own bath and body brand. She had her “a-ha” moment back home in San Diego eating her mother’s eggs and nopal (cactus.) Cactus has similar healing properties as aloe vera but was often overlooked—until now. Sandra recognized the power of this native, regenerating, and unsung plant and made it the centerpiece of her bath and body business, Nopalera.

She was ready to launch when the pandemic hit, but she pushed through anyway. And soon, Nopalera, became the first Latina bath and body line to be carried by Nordstrom’s and Sandra was named as one of Buzzfeed’s “Women to Watch” in 2021.

This Chicana from So-Cal is KILLING IT and if you’re feeling inspired, guess what? Sandra believes there’s no reason why you can’t launch your own bad-ass business, too.

“I was 44-years old with $86,000 worth of student loan debt and a single mom living in Brooklyn. AND I still started this company. What’s your excuse?”

Dang! Good point!

Just a few weeks ago, the Mexican American CEO and Founder shared her personal story in the webinar: The ART of Entrepreneurship: Harness Your CREATIVE SUPERPOWER in Business

Check out the replay here:

 

We talked to this chingona about her transition from musician to mogul and why she thinks most entrepreneurs (especially Latinas) don’t dream big enough.

How did you pivot from being a musician to building a bath and body brand?

“I thought that I was put on earth to be a performer and songwriter. I've been playing piano since the age of five, and I moved to New York to pursue my music career. I had no idea that I would be here in this moment running a bath and body line. But what I realized is that even when I was leading my band, Pistolera, when I was singing in Spanish, I was celebrating my culture and telling our stories. And now I'm continuing that mission but just with a different paint brush. So, it sounds like I jumped into a totally new career but really I just carried the mission over of honoring my culture and elevating our stories but through Nopalera.”

What “transferable” skills do you take from music to entrepreneurship

“One of the big lessons that I learned from being a musician is how to survive rejection. I would write 50 clubs asking to play and 44 of them would ignore me, five would say ‘No’ and one would say ‘Yes.’ And I was like ‘Yes, we got a yes!’ A lot of people are scared to start businesses because they're scared to fail. Listen, I was 44 years old with $86,000 worth of student loan debt living as a single mom in Brooklyn, and I started this company. So, what is your excuse?”

Why do you think Nopalera took off so fast? 

“It was what I did before I launched that made all the difference. I call it building the ‘brand magnet.’ I had a very clear vision for Nopalera. I wanted to create a high-end Mexican brand that could sit on the shelves of Nordstrom’s. And I wanted it to be so overtly Mexican and gorgeous that it would be undeniable stores would want it. Then I wrote down the company values. So, the branding, the copy, the core values, all these things happened before Nopalera even went live. And when it did, like a magnet it attracted the people that I made it for."

How did you get the funds to start because it's often a huge road block?

"No one in my family has money. No one in my family is an entrepreneur. I did not have a savings account and I had no outside funding. So, I started small, making batches of 100 soaps because that's all I could afford to do.

It took me a year to launch because I had to pay for things in increments and I was working three day jobs. It was a very intense period of hustle, but I needed the money to pay off credit card debt so I could order ingredients. And then I got creative, like I did a payment plan with my designer, and it was worth every penny."

What’s something you wish you knew before you started?

“Create your CEO schedule and protect your time. You have to create boundaries for yourself otherwise you’ll  grind yourself to the ground and that will affect your company negatively. And if you find yourself drowning, that’s when you know you need to hire some help, even just a few hours a week makes a world of difference.”

These gems are just a few Sandra dropped during this tell-all webinar!

Ready to:

Watch the webinar replay? Click the video above.

Learn more about Sandra? Click here.

Find out more about product development? Click here.

Back to y’all soon with more kick-ass content!

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