Celebrated in the United States annually from Sept.15 – Oct. 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month pays tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched the nation and society.
Recognizing the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens, whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, the LOOP’s month-long celebration will share profiles of the people behind the small businesses who participate in their weekend markets, host LIVE MUSIC presentations every Sunday afternoon, presented by the City of Fort Lauderdale Beach Busines Improvement District.
Meet the Makers and Small Business Owners who proudly share their passion and Hispanic pride, at The MKT at Las Olas Oceanside Park, and join us for our special WEEKEND OF FESTIVITIES, Friday, September 29 – Sunday, October 1,
Luz Benavides and Kim Usiak | Artisans of Colombia
Luz Benavides and Kim Usiak, the team behind Artisans of Colombia, hail from Ibague, Colombia. In July 2022, they embarked on a journey to bridge the gap between the vivid culture of Colombia and the world by founding their business. Their motivation is to showcase the kaleidoscope of vibrant colors, superior craftsmanship, and diverse handmade treasures produced by the skilled artisans of Colombia.
Both Luz and Kim source their wares through their connection to the artistic Colombian community. Their business offers an eclectic array of products, ranging from intricately woven handbags, backpacks, and hats, to hammocks crafted from native Colombian materials. Additionally, they feature captivating silver jewelry adorned with native gemstones, including renowned emeralds.
Artisans of Colombia not only bring forth these unique creations but also encapsulate the essence of Colombia’s diverse culture. From its varied natural landscapes to the ethnic tapestry of its people, the business pays homage to Colombia’s multifaceted identity. Luz and Kim are most proud when sharing their country’s close-knit familial values, mirroring the strong sense of community found in Colombian culture, and manifesting this spirit within their artisanal endeavor.
Demian Bowman | JC Beans Cafe
Venezuelan-born Demian Bowman is the proud owner of JC Beans Cafe, a coffee haven he established in 2019. Driven by his passion for coffee and the joy of sharing it with others, Demian took a barista class in South Florida and received additional training from a certified Italian barista.
One unique aspect of JC Beans Cafe is the Venezuelan coffee culture it embraces. With about 20 ways to order coffee in Venezuela, Demian ensures his customers receive precisely what they desire. This attention to detail reflects the culture’s specific and flavorful coffee preferences.
Demian takes immense pride in highlighting the hardworking nature of his compatriots, coupled with their ability to savor life’s moments and relish the simple joys. As a passionate entrepreneur, he is the embodiment of Venezuela’s coffee-loving spirit, warmly welcoming customers to enjoy a rich coffee experience in a relaxing ambiance.
Ivan Comas | Fresh Organics & More
Ivan Comas, a proud Hispanic entrepreneur, is the visionary behind the thriving venture known as Fresh Organics & More. Hailing from the vibrant land of Colombia, Ivan’s journey is one of determination, fueled by a desire to be his own boss. Twenty-two years later, Fresh Organics & More and a testament to his perseverance and resourcefulness.
Offering an array of premium products, ranging from locally-sourced produce and meticulously cut fruits, to invigorating organic juices and tantalizing smoothies, Ivan infuses a touch of his heritage, honoring the essence of Hispanic culture while catering to the diverse tastes of his clientele.
Ivan’s heritage isn’t merely a backdrop; it’s an integral part of his business’s identity. Drawing inspiration from Hispanic customs, he introduces an innovative twist by infusing fruits with aromatic spices, an age-old tradition in Hispanic countries. This unique addition not only elevates the flavors but also opens a door to a world of delightful culinary exploration.
When Ivan shares his culture with others, he beams with pride. He takes immense joy in showcasing the positivity that defines his Hispanic heritage, which serves as a conduit for fostering cultural understanding and appreciation.
Melissa Crawford | La Buenos Aires Empanadas
Melissa Crawford, founder of La Buenos Aires Empanadas, hails from Argentina, where her deep-rooted family lineage and love for cooking were nurtured.
Her journey into the culinary world began in 2022, driven by an unwavering passion for culinary arts and a desire to pursue her true calling. Melissa honed her skills at an esteemed culinary school in Argentina, mastering the art of crafting authentic Argentinian empanadas from scratch and delectable desserts.
La Buenos Aires offers an exquisite array of services, including catering and signature handmade empanadas that encapsulate the flavors, seasoning, and style of Argentina’s rich culture. Melissa takes immense pride in sharing the heritage she imbibed while growing up, cherishing the memories and teachings passed down by her beloved grandmother. For Melissa, the heart of her business lies in honoring her roots and ensuring that the essence of Argentina’s culinary traditions is never forgotten.
Jess & Gabriela Dalton-Salazar | Saucy Lips
Saucy Lips is a Mexican-American family-owned and operated company. Born from the kitchen and raised by necessity, Gabriela started selling her homemade sauces and marinades at local farmer’s markets in Arizona to help support her daughter Natalia and son, Jess Jr. through college. Today, the family business and women-led team have been expanded to stores Nationwide, including Natural Grocers, Central Market, ShopRite, and Giant. In May 2021, Saucy Lips launched their Keto, Vegan, Non-GMO, and Gluten-free products nationwide in Whole Foods.
Saucy Lips Foods believes in creating extraordinary flavors handcrafted with fresh, clean ingredients. Saucy Lips started with humble beginnings and despite having products in over 2,000 stores, the Dalton-Salazar family still sets up shop at their local farmer’s markets.
Sonia Glenn | Pretty Clothes
Sonia Glenn hails from Peru and has embraced her Latin roots in her fashion venture, Pretty Clothes. With a year under her belt, Sonia’s business is a reflection of her deep-rooted love for fashion. Self-taught and passionate, she embarked on this venture driven by her admiration for clothing and design.
Pretty Clothes specializes in offering a diverse range of garments, all of which embody the lively Latin style. Sonia takes immense pride in infusing unique aspects of Peruvian culture into her business, particularly the vibrant Latin clothing style. Beyond fashion, she eagerly shares the treasure of Peruvian cuisine, believing it to be the finest. As Sonia continues her journey, she aspires to celebrate and share the richness of Peru’s culture, both through style and culinary excellence.
Alexandra Gutierrez | AG37 Hawaii Creations
Alexandra Gutierrez is the creative force behind AG37 Hawaii Creations, an art and crafts business she started in 2010. Originally from Venezuela, Alexandra’s love for art and crafts motivated her to establish her venture. She is a self-taught artist specializing in mixed media art. She combines pyrography (woodburning) with acrylics to produce stunning and unique pieces. Her work is deeply influenced by the Hawaiian and Caribbean islands’ tropical vibes and vibrant colors.
When sharing her country’s culture with others, Alexandra takes great pride in showcasing Venezuela’s outstanding natural beauty, including the magnificent Angels Falls, the world’s tallest waterfall, breathtaking mountains, and perfect weather. She also delights in introducing others to delectable Venezuelan cuisine.
Through AG37 Hawaii Creations, Alexandra shares her passion for art and her Venezuelan heritage, bringing a touch of paradise and cultural richness to the world.
Yamile Hewitt | YH Pottery
Yamile Hewitt hails from the vibrant country of Colombia. In 2013, she embarked on her entrepreneurial journey, inspired by the desire to support her daughter’s swim team while showcasing her artistic talent and adding decorative pieces to people’s homes.
As a skilled potter, Yamile honed her craft through dedicated classes. Her business, YH Pottery, offers a collection of pottery pieces that are unique, decorative, and functional, making each creation a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
Colombia’s diverse landscape and lively environment influence Yamile’s art. The country’s majestic mountains, two oceans, and vibrant flowers and fruits inspire her pottery designs, infusing each piece with the essence of her homeland.
Proudly sharing Colombian culture with others, Yamile exudes the nation’s joyful spirit, hardworking nature, and welcoming demeanor through her pottery. In her art, she reflects the happiness in Colombian music, the rhythm of dance, and the warmth of constant smiles.
Silvia Iglesias | Silvia Iglesias Designs
Silvia Iglesias is the creative spirit behind Silvia Iglesias Designs, a venture that reflects her Peruvian heritage and innovative spirit. Born in San Martin, Peru, Silvia embarked on her entrepreneurial journey in August 1991, driven by her role as a single mother of three. With determination, she introduced a groundbreaking concept of single-hole ear-climbing earrings, showcasing her knack for artistic expression.
A self-taught artisan, Silvia’s creations embody her unwavering dedication to crafting unique, hand-designed jewelry. Her work resonates with the rich artisanal traditions of Peru, a country renowned for its exceptional craftsmanship and culinary excellence. Silvia’s jewelry not only showcases her artistic prowess but also pays homage to her ancestral talents and the vibrant Peruvian culture.
Drawing from the diversity of her homeland, Silvia shares Peru’s splendors with the world. As an ambassador of her country, she highlights its wonders, including the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu and its delectable culinary heritage. Silvia’s jewelry is a testament to her pride in being Peruvian, encapsulating the beauty of Peru’s landscapes and cultural tapestry.
Javier Longobari | Silver Edge Las Olas
Javier Longobardi is the proud owner of Silver Edge Las Olas, a renowned jewelry business based in Miami, USA. Born in Argentina, Javier’s family lineage traces back to Italian roots. In 1999, he ventured into the jewelry business with his two brothers. Fascinated by jewelry and accessories, they found success in silverware. However, Javier’s passion led him to attend classes at the Miami jewelry school, First Institute of Gemology & Jewelry Specialty School in Coral Gables, Florida, to refine his craft.
Silver Edge Las Olas currently specializes in crafting exquisite silver jewelry with rare and beautiful larimar stone. While Javier’s business is in the USA, he cherishes his Argentinian heritage.
Proudly sharing aspects of Argentine culture with others, Javier often introduces traditional Argentine food, desserts, and the country’s passion for soccer. Moreover, he takes pride in Argentina’s contributions to the world, including inventions like fingerprinting, the first buses, the pen, and even the first helicopter flight.
Patty Lynch | The Healing Arts Co.
Patty Lynch, the creative spirit behind The Healing Arts Co., draws her inspiration from her diverse cultural heritage. Born in Honduras, Patty’s journey as an artist began in 2022 when she followed her passion for creating and sharing her artwork with the world.
As a self-taught artist, Patty’s creations span a range of art items, including original paintings, giclée prints, art prints of her original works, and hand-painted wood items. Her art is a beautiful blend of her native country’s vibrant colors and the influences she has gathered from her experiences in Fort Lauderdale, Jamaica, Holland, and across the United States.
Patty’s pride in sharing her country’s culture is evident in her admiration for the friendly nature of Hondurans, the delectable food, and the historical treasures such as Mayan ruins and Spanish forts. With a heart that resonates with multiple cultures, Patty’s art transcends borders, is a tribute to her heritage, and an invitation for others to journey through colors, stories, and shared experiences.
Reynel Martin | RY’s Coffee Bar
Reynel Martin, the visionary behind RY’s Coffee Bar, epitomizes the essence of first-generation Cuban-American heritage. Born to parents with deep Cuban roots, Reynel’s upbringing profoundly influences his identity. In the waning months of 2022, he and his wife embarked on a purpose-driven journey, fueled by their shared ardor for coffee, art, and community. This odyssey culminated in the inception of RY’s Coffee Bar, a testament to their unwavering commitment to spreading joy within their local sphere.
Reynel’s autodidactic nature is evident in the craftsmanship he brings to the table. RY’s Coffee Bar offers an expansive repertoire of beverages, with a distinct emphasis on honoring Cuban coffee culture. From the invigorating Colada to the classic cortado and comforting cafe con leche, these offerings encapsulate the robust flavors associated with his Cuban lineage.
Yet, beyond the delectable offerings, Reynel’s deepest pride lies in his culture’s resilience. A symbol of tenacity, RY’s Coffee Bar echoes the indomitable spirit of Cuban perseverance, an attribute Reynel ardently shares with his patrons. In every cup served, his aspiration to forge connections and promote cultural heritage remains unswerving.
Aurely Meneses | Kukeebubee
As vibrant and colorful as her Puerto Rican heritage, Aurely Meneses founded the fashion line Kukeebubee in 2007 after her crochet hobby blossomed into her true passion and business. Inspired by the colorful and airy pieces that perfectly represent her girly, playful, and comfortable style she later introduced bohemian clothing to her collection.
Aurely takes immense pride in sharing her country’s culture with others. From the vibrant Island food to the rhythmic music, the picturesque beaches, and the majestic mountains, she delights in embracing all Puerto Rico has to offer. The island’s fresh air and the warmth of its people add a special touch to each piece she makes and sources to reflect the essence of her homeland.
With Kukeebubee, Aurely showcases her love for her Puerto Rican heritage, inviting customers to embrace happiness, colors, and a playful sense of style.
Carol Paz Nickless | Paz Y Luna
Carol Paz Nickless is the visionary behind Paz Y Luna, a business that celebrates the beauty of handcrafted accessories from around the world. Hailing from Honduras, Carol’s family lineage connects her deeply to the tradition of handmade craftsmanship.
in 2015, Carol embarked on her entrepreneurial journey, inspired by the memories of her grandmother making and selling straw hats in the local fresh market. While she learned the art of embroidery and crochet from her grandmother, handweaving the hats remained a skill she admired. This love for all things handcrafted fueled her mission to support artisans and preserve their traditions.
Carol’s passion lies in sharing the intricate process and techniques used by artisans when creating their products. Through Paz Y Luna, she embraces the essence of cultural heritage, promoting handcrafted accessories that carry a piece of their creators’ stories and traditions. Her commitment to supporting artisans and preserving their crafts shines through in every carefully curated piece she offers.
Olga Ramirez | Handmade by Gachy
Olga Ramirez is the creative mind behind Handmade by Gachy, a business she started in 2015. Originally from Colombia, Olga’s passion for crocheting and creating handmade items began as a hobby, leading her to establish her business.
Self-taught and driven by her love for crochet, Olga’s creations are offered at various South Florida markets and showcased on her Instagram page. Her products reflect the unique aspects of Colombian culture, embracing tradition as a key element in her handmade pieces.
When sharing her country’s culture with others, Olga takes great pride in representing the values that define Colombia, such as love, honesty, and friendship. As a Colombian-American, she cherishes her dual heritage, finding inspiration in both cultures to infuse her dolls with a blend of traditions and creativity.
Handmade by Gachy is a testament to Olga’s love for her Colombian roots, and her journey as an artist and entrepreneur showcases the beauty of cultural fusion and the celebration of traditions through her craft.
Yeni Ramos | Fussion Healthy315
Yeni Ramos, the passionate chef behind Fussion Healthy315, was born in Caracas, Venezuela. In 2020, she embarked on her culinary journey, fueled by her love for cooking and the joy of sharing delicious meals with friends.
Combining her innate talent with formal education, Yeni is both self-taught and a certified healthy chef. Her culinary expertise shines through in her business, where she offers a unique dining experience through her signature dish, the “Arepa Bowl.” This innovative twist on the traditional arepa, along with other Venezuelan delights like corn pancakes, tequeños, and empanadas, showcases the essence of her country’s rich culinary culture.
Yeni takes immense pride in sharing her country’s gastronomic treasures with the world. Through her food, she introduces people to the wonders of Venezuelan cuisine, showing the beauty of her homeland’s culinary traditions.
Yeni’s passion for cooking goes beyond just making delicious dishes; it’s about serving people and creating a memorable experience. For her, the opportunity to work with others and share her food brings her immense joy and satisfaction.
Sheydeguer Silva Unamo | Delirious Food Factory
Sheydeguer (Shey) Silva Unamo (L) is the proud co-founder of Delirious Food Factory. Originally from Venezuela, Shey was an Architect by trade, but upon moving to the USA, he found his true calling in the kitchen, honing his culinary skills before finally deciding to establish his own business in 2020 with his sister, Shearlley (C), and her husband, Manu (R).
Driven by a passion to offer delicious and healthy options for everyone, especially celiacs, Delirious Food Factory specializes in gluten-free pizzas, lasagna, and fresh, nutritious salads made from organic ingredients. As a family-owned business, they strive to create an atmosphere that makes everyone feel like family. The warmth and love they infuse into their food shines through in every recipe.
Delirious Food Factory is a true testament to this trio’s passion for cooking and their dedication to sharing their country’s culture with others, one delicious meal at a time.
Eboni Wilson | Craft Addicts
Eboni Wilson, the creative brainchild behind Craft Addicts, brings Puerto Rican vibrancy to the heart of Florida. Born in the Sunshine State, but deeply connected to her Puerto Rican roots, Eboni founded Craft Addicts in June 2022. Her business journey is a testament to her commitment to instilling values of hard work and determination in her children.
A self-taught artisan, Eboni pours her passion into Craft Addicts, a full-service printing company specializing in one-of-a-kind tumblers and apparel. Her creations not only bear unique designs but also reflect the rich culture of Puerto Rico through their vibrant colors and patterns.
Eboni’s business is more than just a printing company—it’s a bridge between cultures. She takes immense pride in showcasing Puerto Rico’s richness, from its vibrant colors to its inviting traditions. She lights up when customers express curiosity about her heritage and its wonders. Through Craft Addicts, Eboni not only delivers exceptional products but also shares the story of Puerto Rico, inspiring others to explore its beauty and diversity
Martha Yanes | Moonlight Collection
Martha Yanes (R) is the founder and visionary behind Moonlight Collection, a fashion business specializing in resort women’s wear crafted from linen and cotton. Hailing from Cuba, Martha’s love for fashion and her Caribbean roots inspired her to launch the venture in July 2021, with a focus on creating colorful and vibrant clothing pieces.
Armed with an entrepreneurial spirit, Martha’s passion for fashion is evident in her unique collection, which includes dresses, pants, tops, bags, and accessories. Her designs embody the laid-back and sunny vibes of tropical destinations.
Through her business, Martha takes immense pride in sharing Cuban culture with the world. The island’s rich heritage is evident in the way they cherish family traditions, their flavorful cuisine, and the warmth of the people. Embracing these aspects, Moonlight Collection brings a piece of Cuban charm to women’s fashion, celebrating the beauty and uniqueness of the Caribbean culture in every stitch and pattern.