Culturas Corner highlights individuals who make their community a better place through their work, business, volunteering or activism. Today we hear from Jessica Galvez and Irene Valencia, who launched their own business right in the middle of the pandemic. The Orange County natives tell us all about their journey developing Miche Al 100.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to Culturas! Let’s start by learning more about YOU. Can you tell us about yourselves and what led you to starting your own business?
We are both from Orange County, California. We worked at the same restaurant, which is where we met. One of us was 19 the other one 18, both working at our first job. Getting a glimpse of what adulthood really is. Funny thing is, we never actually spoke to each other while working there. It was always just a “hi,” “ goodbye” or “can you hurry up with the food?” One of us stayed in the food industry and the other went into retail. A few months later, we ran into each other at a mutual friend’s dinner and became friends that night. Later on in our friendship, we found ourselves unhappy with our jobs, which made us realize we have opportunities and resources our parents didn’t have at our age. No one in our family owns a business. This inspired one of us to be the first in our families and one pitched the idea to the other. That is what led us to start our business, Miche Al 100, which is short for Michelada Al Cien.
Why a michelada cup—what makes yours special? We want to know all about the design!
JESSICA: Micheladas come from San Luis Potosí, a city in east-central Mexico. We both are Mexican and all I knew was I wanted to start a business that involved my ethnicity. When we were both unhappy with our jobs, we would grab some dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Santa Ana. We would have our meal while always sipping on a michelada. One day I sat there and noticed how many people were enjoying their micheladas with their friends or family, having a good time. It clicked: I knew michelada cups was the way to go. I wanted to be able to bring that good time to people as well. Our cup is special because we personally enjoy micheladas. We worked for a year to perfect our ingredients for everyone to enjoy as much as we do. We have two designs for our logo because we are both different individuals. As for mine, I chose hamsa (hand with an eye). It symbolizes the hand of God. It also symbolizes luck, health and happiness. Ever since I was a child, I had a hamsa painting in my room. It’s something that made me feel safe. As soon as we knew what our business was going to consist of, I knew I wanted to have the hamsa as my logo. We worked very closely with our logo designer. I believe we fixed our logo at least five times to get every small detail we vision-perfected.
IRENE: When the idea was pitched to me, I was bartending at the time. As a bartender you get to experiment a lot with different ingredients to give each drink your own twist. So when I heard “I want to start a business, I want to make a Michelada cup,” I automatically thought, “This is great” and was in! So many ideas came to my mind about how I’d be able to make it our own and give it our own unique flavor that everyone could enjoy, just like we did during our dinners and hang outs with our friends. For my logo, I chose a skull. The calavera (which is Spanish for “skull”) is part of the Día de Los Muertos tradition, which is an Aztec tradition honoring the deceased. Growing up, my family always celebrated Dia de Los Muertos (Day of The Dead). Ever since then, I’ve been fascinated by it because it’s a way of being close to not just only to my living family, but also to family and friends that have passed away. I hope to bring that mindset to people when they see a sugar skull as well. That is how our second logo came about.
What has it been like growing a new business during the pandemic? Can you tell us the process, from development to marketing to distribution, since launching in May?
Growing a new business during the pandemic has come with its obstacles. Even though we have been working on this business since February 2019, we just launched in May 2020. The pandemic gave us the time to finish our last touches. We had to put our launch party on hold, as well as other events that we had planned to market our business. But thanks to social media, we have still been able to reach amazing customers. A lot of research was put into it. From the ingredients, to our logo, to our supplier, to our permits and license. Many warehouses closed due to the pandemic. We had to choose our supplier via online, which did set us back. But we were okay with a setback as long as we got the perfect supplies for our customers. We currently distribute to Orange County, Los Angeles county and the Inland Empire. We look forward to being able to distribute even further out in the future.
What are your future goals, long- and short-term, for Miche Al 100?
We have many goals for Miche Al 100. One of our ongoing goals is to always give back to our community, to always help different charities. Right now, 50% of our proceeds will be going to an organization that helps children that have been abused or witnessed violence. Sometimes as human beings, we forget to take a step back and help those in need. Every other month we will choose a different charity to donate to. One of our long term goals is to be able to own a restaurant. We both started in the food industry as servers. Our business idea came while eating at a Mexican restaurant, and we hope for one day to inspire others. This is just the beginning of our journey, but if two young adults can throw themselves into starting a small business without any guidance, so can others. It’s a lot of research, a lot of work, a lot of studying, but it’s possible.
What is your favorite cultural memory?
JESSICA: My favorite cultural memory has to be when I go to quinceañeras. From the traditional father daughter dance, to getting the last doll, to enjoying all the traditional dishes my family made. ALL your family gets together, even family you didn’t know you had and meet for the first time. Then getting to listen to all the Spanish music and dancing. My favorite part of a quinceañera was when they would play “El Caballo Dorado” and everybody gets up to dance. Anywhere you go, Latin people will know this dance and it’s just everyone being together.
IRENE: When I was about 8 years old, I vividly remember when my father took me to see the Chinelos perform in Santa Ana. Chinelos are a group of people that wear these very colorful attire with handkerchiefs around their faces and whistle. They jump, yell, and dance! This was started after the Spanish colonization, & comes from Morelos, Mexico, which is where my father is from. Since I have never been to Mexico, this was a way of him being able to show me just a glimpse of a beautiful tradition in Morelos. It brings so many people together that enjoy watching and being a part of it.
Answers have been edited for length and clarity. Know someone who should be featured on Culturas Corner? Nominate them here.