We had the good fortune of connecting with Hipatia Lopez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hipatia, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born and raised in New Jersey. My parents are from Quito, Ecuador. I was raised in a very strict household. Education was very important especially to my mom. She came to USA right before she graduated so she never got to finish and pursue a degree (career). Both my parents worked factory jobs and did not speak any English so it was difficult for them in the beginning. My mom insisted I always study even after school to learn ahead. I became a straight A student and loved being recognized for accomplishments because I worked real hard for them. I am very grateful to have had them very involved in my school studies and pushing to always want more out of life.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
H.L. Unico LLC was created because I invented a kitchen utensil called Empanada Fork. Empanada fork is a pastry press used to make fork-like impressions on the edges of dough when you close the empanada. The “idea” came to me literally around the dinner table when I was prepping to make 100 empanadas during Thanksgiving. I have 3 children and they all helped to close the pastry because it takes so long and your fingers begin to hurt after a while when using the fork multiple times pressing down. I was frustrated and wished this process could go quicker. I jokingly stated I am going to invent something. We all laughed and continued on with the day. That whole night – I could not get rid of the idea of inventing something. I felt like it was a crazy idea because I didn’t think possible. I began to draw the utensil best I could and decided to call a patent lawyer just to confirm if it’s worth me pursuing. The rest is history- 3 patents later and super proud that I didn’t give up even when things got hard! My challenges were many but the hardest was manufacturing. I originally wanted to have it made in plastic. However, the prototype failed because the teeth ridges would bend. In the end, stainless steel was the material that worked because so durable and strong.
I want the world to know that I truly believe if you put hard work and dedicate yourself to something than you will succeed but it is important to keep pushing forward. I hope to encourage other women especially Latinas to invent products because (“si se puede”) “yes you can” do it too!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
One of our favorite hobbies is dancing (salsa, bachata, reggae) Itinerary:
Gym/workout (every morning)
Long branch beach for the day or (Asbury beach)
Outlets for some shopping
Lunch by tiki bar (outside)
Home to get ready for dinner and dancing the night away either to Bonfire (Paterson-NJ) or Fiesta (Passaic- NJ)
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would love to shoutout the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of New Jersey. I walked into my very first event as an entrepreneur not knowing a single person but having the passion and desire to tell people what I invented. They not only welcomed me with open arms but were equally excited to get to know my business, etc. I became a social media ambassador for them and got introduced to so many people and platforms that exist to help the Hispanic community.