Lucia Rios is making a name for herself by offering cotton candy in the traditional flavors many Latinas grew up with, such as Horchata, Sandia con Tajin, and Purple Kool-Aid, with her unique company Twisted 4 Sugar. After becoming obsessed with her Mexican-inspired flavors and cute presentation, I wanted to know more about how she got started and what inspired her to create a business rooted in her own Mexican Culture.
“I wanted to do something that would be different,” Rios explained. “Cotton candy is kind of trendy right now and I started out by imitating other people’s styles and flavors but it didn’t feel natural to me. One day, I was playing around with tajin and a watermelon flavor I was working on and it just kind of clicked. It tasted really good! From that point, I knew what I wanted to do.” Since she’s been embracing the flavors she grew up with she’s seen a huge bump in business, “I’m booked for 2 months solid. It’s been such a blessing!”
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Twisted 4 Sugar’s fast growing success is truly something to behold and is a testament to the buying power of the Latino community. It’s also a strong argument for authentic Latino targeted businesses that are culturally in tune and relevant. Because let’s be real, our financial impact is huge and relatively untapped. The Hollywood Reporter noted that “today, Latinos wield an estimated $1.3 trillion in buying power. Latinos are responsible for 29 percent of the growth in U.S. real income since 2005.”
Rios is seeing that buying power firsthand and not because she’s trying to capture the “Latino market” but because she’s just being herself. What originally started as a way for her to be able to be a stay at home mom has gained a lot of attention in a short amount of time.
Like so many Latina’s out there Rios is a working mom, but when she had her second child everything changed; very quickly she realized that something wasn’t right with her.
“I had postpartum depression after the birth of my daughter. Even though I was doing therapy everyone encouraged me to go back to work thinking it would help but it didn’t. I wanted to be home bonding with my daughter. It was something that my sister dealt with, it was something that my mom also went through but it’s like something that no one wants to talk about.”
It’s clear that mental health in the Latino community is a taboo subject. Now Lucia is using her experiences and her business to connect with other moms and to bring awareness to a condition that affects one in nine new mothers. “If anything I want to bring awareness to postpartum depression because so many women are just kind of dealing with it alone.” Through her work at birthday parties, baby showers, and school events Rios has been able to connect with other moms in real life as well as on Instagram. “I feel encouraged to encourage other moms! It’s normal, you’re not crazy, it’s okay.” She says that the Whitter-based organization My Postpartum Tribe has provided an amazing support system for her to share her experiences and heal.
When I asked her about the overwhelming support she’s gotten from the Latino community she reminded me that it’s the community that is connecting with her and not the other way around. “Our political environment is pushing people who want to feel deeply rooted in their culture. I’m 2nd generation and I’m still looking to get more involved and rooted in my culture. I wasn’t looking to go in and change the Latino community. I think the Latino community has come to me and changed me in the best way possible.” Similarly she says that through her business she’s been pushed to be more bold and outspoken woman for her own daughter.
“As a Latina, as a brown girl, as a woman I didn’t know these things were possible, maybe I didn’t have that exposure. Having a daughter has made me so much more aware of what it means to be a woman of color. I want my daughter to go into the world unapologetic and if I want her to be that way then that means I have to lead by example.”
By putting herself out there Rios says that she’s also finding herself and growing as a person. “Through my business I’m becoming a better person, I’m such a huge believer that if you put what you want into the universe it will come back to you.”
So what’s next for Lucia? You can find her at the MOLAA opening for the Nickolas Muray exhibit and at Molcajete Domingueros on Sundays. Her website www.twisted4sugar.com is coming soon and there you’ll be able to buy tubs of of delicious cotton candy, check her flavors, book her, and see a calendar of public events. You can also keep up with her by following her on Instagram.