“If you believe in dreams, my company is a dream,” said Nora Saca, who emigrated from El Salvador 9 years ago.
Saca came here to be near her children, including Daughter Vanessa, who was working as a waitress to pay off loans at Cal State Los Angeles.
“When I came to this country, I came with my two luggage, a box of pictures, and a bunch of dreams,” said Saca.
A family friend was running a small Latin American food distribution company called Amerisal. It was going under and Saca smelled an opportunity.
“I said, ‘Vanessa, what do you think?’ She said, ‘Mommy, let’s do it,’ ” she said.
“She saw the opportunity on the market, the demand for nostalgia food products was huge,” said Vanessa Faggiolly, Saca’s daughter. “And somebody needed to fill it.”
With a beat-up van and four varieties of cheese, the two pounded the pavement at mom-and-pop shops seven days a week.
“A lot of people [would] laugh in our face,” recalls Faggiolly.
But that didn’t deter them. In fact, they worked their way into ethnic grocery stores.
“Now, the buyers from the supermarket chains call us and they are like, ‘We need new products. What new products do you have,’ ” Faggiolly said.
They are in supermarket chains across the western United States and have just bought their Van Nuys warehouse.
Now, their company is worth about $6 million, and they’ll be honored this week by the National Latina Women’s Business Association as Entrepreneurs of the Year and will be taking all 14 employees to the award ceremony.
“To me a leader is somebody that can inspire and empower other people,” Faggiolly said. “This country, you can come with nothing, and if you have dreams and you work hard and smart, you will accomplish all your dreams.”