SoCo Market helps shine light on Latino-owned businesses
As a cloudy haze hovered over Old Courthouse Square in downtown Santa Rosa, a festive spirit was maintained by Latino artists, creatives, and makers of all kinds showcasing at the Friday night SoCo market.
A white sheet covered tables displaying racks of butterfly wing earrings and bracelets as eager millennials in bucket hats sifted through vintage shirts from the 1980s and ‘90s. Hungry attendees who needed a break from browsing waited expectantly in line at drink and food stands as succulent plants nestled in macrame hung at a nearby booth, twirling in the summer breeze.
It was an atmosphere typical of the monthly SoCo Market that began its start nearly a year ago. The market will take a break in September, but markets will resume in October and December. No dates have been finalized. Keep an eye out on the market’s Instagram: @thesocomarket.
Mercedes Hernández, 26, is founder of the market that focuses on highlights and celebrates small millennial-owned businesses.
“It brings the whole community together, we’re supporting small businesses. We’re supporting people who have big dreams,” she said.
During the bright and bustling event, we caught up with a few local Latino-owned businesses:
Jennifer Flores and Rosa Luviano founders of Monarca Valley Floral
Flowers are important to the Rohnert Park mother-daughter duo who launched a floral-arrangement business in March.
“In times where we’ve felt lost, scared or depressed or sick, something that always grounds us is always having flowers. They bring so much color and liveliness into a home,” said Jennifer Flores, 22. “Flowers have always been such a big part of our lives.”
Six years ago, Rosa Luviano started creating floral arrangements to celebrate her daughter’s important milestones like her birthdays, quinceañera and first communion. Luviano did it out of passion and found joy in creating arrangements for people she loved.
That passion for flowers turned into a business that Luviano and her daughter now operate. Their mission: To create floral arrangements that brighten any room or someone’s day.
“Whenever I’d make arrangements for people, it made me so happy seeing their reactions,” said Luviano, 41, with tears in her eyes. “I just want to make people feel happy. That’s the whole point of this business.”
Their logo, a monarch butterfly, reflects stories they shared as a family about butterflies migrating to Luviano’s native home of Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico. They believe the butterflies are souls of deceased relatives returning home.
“I’m a first-generation student navigating college, my parents moved here from a different country, it reminded me of our journey as a family as we navigate life together,“ Flores said. ”We want to show who we are.“
Blanca Molina founder of Pokidi Lab
Blanca Molina, a Santa Rosa-based graphic designer and illustrator from Jalisco, Mexico, creates posters, pins, stickers and jewelry that drip with colorful symbols inspired by her Latino heritage.
Her art is meant to promote positivity, fierceness, humor and wittiness during hard times.
“Romanticize your life,” said Molina, 32. ”Hey, maybe today kinda sucks, but it doesn’t have to be like this every day. My intention is to lighten up people’s moods.”
In August 2020, the Sacramento University graphics design graduate posted a piece on Instagram called “Unwavering Resilience.” The piece was inspired by farm workers who continued working as California wildfires raged nearby, and it received tons of positive feedback that encouraged Molina to start selling her art on Shopify, she said.
“I want people to see themselves and their culture in the things I create,” Molina said. “You have your job that pays the bills and the job that feeds your soul. This work doesn’t just pay the bills— it feeds my soul.”
Lissete Martin founder of Herrera de Corazón
Lissete Martin opened Herrera de Corazón in February 2020 after dreaming of opening her own gift shop since she was 8 years old.
“When I was a kid, I’d make these giant retail stores and would lay out Bratz dolls accessories and all that,” Martin, 23, said.
The Santa Rosa native handcrafts and curates items that are 100% de corazón — Spanish for “from the heart.” Her shop features custom items and jewelry. Things like embroidered clutches, hand painted sombreros and tassels can also be found on her Instagram.
Martin created the shop to honor her grandfather, a blacksmith in Jalisco, Mexico, who passed away in 2018. She said it’s vital to incorporate pieces from their Latino culture and she specifically sells items created by artisans from Chiapas and Jalisco.