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Meet Tayde Gonzalez of Chula Vista

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tayde Gonzalez.

Hi Tayde, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
My name is Tayde pronounced “Tie-day” I was born in Leon, Guanajuato which is one of the most historic small cities in Mexico.

When I was about 6 years old we migrated to the United States for the first time where I was first exposed to entrepreneurship at a very young age. For work my parents used to bring small pieces of art (such as sculptures and paintings) from Mexican artisans and sell it on the weekends at various markets and swap meets. Sometimes I would get to go with them and experience what it was like for them to “pitch” their merchandise and barter with various clients and vendors. I also witnessed the long days at the markets and the 3-day road trips my parents were constantly making to get more merchandise to bring and sell. You could say this is where I learned that it takes a relentless spirit to be an entrepreneur and make your dreams a reality.

Fast forward to me graduating High School, I knew immediately that a traditional college experience was not going to be the right path for me. Instead I went to study product development at the Fashion Institute of Merchandise and Design. I did a year here at the beautiful San Diego campus and finished off at the Los Angeles campus where I was surrounded by like-minded ambitious people all wanting to create something out of nothing and become entrepreneurs themselves.

After getting my degree I went to work for a company that had licensing to private label for the biggest European, and Mexican soccer teams. I got to have hands-on experience on the whole product development process. From designing to purchasing samples, to going on a once in a lifetime trip to Hong Kong so I could assist in the approval process for next season’s clothing line. I truly felt like I was living the dream. I felt excited and happy to go into work everyday as I couldn’t wait to keep learning more about the industry, but after working there for about a year or so I was laid off and it was back to square one for me.

From the time I got laid off from what felt like my “dream job” to where I’m standing today a lot of things happened. First I became a mother to my son Franco when I was 23 years old which led me to think that I could no longer be a 9-5 employee even if it was an exciting opportunity for me, I felt like I always had to put my son as my number one priority. I took several retail jobs working at higher end stores like Henri Bendel and then Bloomingdales, then after being worn down by the demanding hours I chose to pivot and change industries and went to get my cosmetology license at the Paul Mitchell school in downtown San Diego.

I worked extremely hard to get my cosmetology license because I finally thought that this was going to be my break to become a business owner. I could rent a small space and finally make my own hours and create something that was finally my own. Straight after graduating I started assisting at several salons as I’ve always known that working from the ground up is the most secure way to succeed in any industry. But it’s funny how history kind of repeats itself, because a short while after landing a job at my dream salon in La Jolla, I got pregnant with my daughter.

My plan was to go on maternity leave and come right back to the salon to resume my assisting program and eventually get behind the chair. I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl December 31st 2019, which to my surprise, was the official day the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.

I went from maternity leave to quarantine for a whole year, and as we all know hair stylists and salons were one of the industries that got hit the hardest during the pandemic. That’s when I started to rethink everything. I could no longer put all my eggs in one basket, the hair industry had proven to be too risky for me to dedicate my whole life to building something that could be taken away from me and shut down at any moment.

Needless to say I had a lot of time to think about what my next move was going to be. I began to journal, sketch, and plan what I wanted my life to look like when things went back to normal. I listened to motivational podcasts and watched endless hours of youtube and tik tok and saw these young women that were taking advantage of all the time inside to create small businesses and shops. A lot of my own family members began to open businesses from their own kitchens! Delicious artisanal pizzas and fresh baked goods and of course sourdough breads. That was just the push I needed to start doing my research. One morning while I was drinking my morning Starbucks coffee I asked myself, “what are you obsessed with?” “What is something that you are passionate about enough to talk about all day everyday?” “What is something friends and family always come to you for advice on?” COFFEE! I said to myself.

You see, I’m the kind of person that whenever I go anywhere whether it be a day with friends, a road trip to Vegas, or even a trip to the other side of the world, my entire itinerary revolves around coffee shops. I’m truly fascinated with visiting small local coffee shops, because you can always feel a sense of community, something in common that brings people together.

From the super traditional “coffee and bagels” coffee shop, to the trendiest LA spot with the mushroom infused coffees, I can’t get enough of them. Here in San Diego one of my absolute favorite coffee spots is Communal Coffee. I know that when I go in there it’s about the experience. I get to touch and feel the beautiful merchandise they display, smell the delicate flower bouquets they sell, and of course eat and drink the most delicious pastries and coffees. I know getting your morning coffee is what people look forward to waking up in the mornings, and I wanted to be a part of that!

Once I knew my product was going to be coffee, it was off to the races. I began doing my research and landed on a local roastery about 45minutes away from me in Temecula. After finding my coffee source then that’s when the fun started. I began thinking of a name. I wanted to be something personal but powerful, something that would honor my roots and where I came from that could represent how proud I was to be a young Latinx, first time business owner. My partner suggested “why not LEON coffee?” “You know, because that’s where you’re from” “hmmm im not sure i connect with that because Leon is a male lion” I said. “You know what would be better, LA LEONA” ! which means “lioness” in English… and that’s when “LA LEONA COFFEE” was born.

It has only been about 4 months since I’ve launched and I have already been a part of 2 local farmers markets, have my online website up and running, and came out with mugs and tote bags to sell! The business has been growing incredibly fast which is exciting but also severely intimidating for a busy mom of 2 that’s running a family and a small business at the same time.

My dream for the future is to open my own coffee shop that has a ton of free resources and materials to support other young latinx moms that are aspiring to open a small business of their own. A place where they can go and make connections with other like minded women and share their dreams and aspirations over a delicious cup of our mexican chocolate coffee! I want nothing but to give back to the community and give others the love and support I’ve been experiencing from my own friends and family so they feel understood, heard, empowered and supported. La Leona is a feeling more than a product, it’s all about the message of being fierce and awakening that inner lioness we all have in us, the coffee is just a delicious byproduct of it.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
One of my biggest struggles is managing my time. At the moment I have a 6yr old still doing distance learning at home and a super energetic toddler running around the house climbing on the furniture. I also work part time at my mom’s daycare as an assistant and I dedicate my weekends to Farmers markets and events. On top of that I have to find the time to manage La Leona’s social media, do photoshoots, talk to vendors about potentially having La Leona coffee at their shops etc..

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I really specialize in visuals and aesthetics. I put my creative eye on everything I put out for the brand. When it comes to Farmer Market days I pre-plan for weeks in advance about what my tables are going to look like collecting props, furniture, and materials. From the pink linens to fresh flowers being displayed to the coffee canisters being lined up perfectly, we even have a small Parisian inspired bistro table that holds our sugar and creamers to get that “coffee shop” look just right! Every market day is an opportunity for me to create a visually inviting atmosphere where my customers can come in and have a taste of our delicious coffee and what La Leona brings to the table. I think our biggest differentiator is the attention to detail and wanting to bring an experience to our customers rather than just a product. We really hype up other small businesses on social media and are planning a lot of collaborations with them as well so we can start building that community of empowered young latinx entrepreneurs.

Alright, so to wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Please check us out at Laleonaco.com and on Instagram @Laleonacoffee ! Also, we are currently looking for more opportunities to get into local farmers markets and pop up shops. so if anybody has any information about that we would love to look into those opportunities!

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