We had the good fortune of connecting with Mely Gutmann Rocio Ibarra and Lis Caceres Mely Gutmann Rocio Ibarra and Lis Caceres and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mely Gutmann Rocio Ibarra and Lis Caceres, what is the most important factor behind your success?
My mother Lis, whom this business is inspired and named after, a fearless selfless immigrant woman, cancer survivor warrior single mother of 4 girls, survivor of domestic violence and a true entrepreneur at heart. I’ve learned so much courage from her and determination the true success behind our business is Family Unity. Quesalis is a reminder to never give up, that anything is possible and that is also possible and a joy to work with family. This is a family owned business that thrives because we believe in each other, we work together and grow together.
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?
Quesalis is a Business that was born in the middle of many struggles. Being immigrants in this country and undocumented at the time everything was a blur When from one day to the next we found ourselves losing our jobs due to the pandemic in 2020. I remember my sister and i sat there crying in the middle of all the fear confusion and uncertainty of what whats next for us we lifted our heads and there she was… in the kitchen… our mom Lis Baking…. Making Salvadoran Quesadillas was our mothers side hustle, that inspired my sister and I to fund Quesalis with all the little savings we had! I remember going out to buy all the ingredients to the store and wait in the longest line, wearing ski goggles, mask and covered head to toe because we didnt know what Corona virus was, all we knew was that it was coming for us! lol you can say we came out strong from the pandemic but that was just the beginning of our entrepreneurial journey and first of many struggles to get to where we are today but we were and still are in for the challenge! We would bake together in our kitchen using a single hand kitchen aid mixer, and in our oven that was rather small, 2 years later we are baking out of a commercial kitchen, have a few coffee shops around LA that carry our products, we have been part of festivals and love to sell at the farmer markets!! We have leverage from using social media as a tool for marketing and grow our business through simply word of mouth. Always supported by close friends and family. All the risks of going out and driving all over LA to individually deliver our product in the middle of a pandemic was all worth it because we now ship Nationwide!! The lessons learned are many, but one of them is that there’s always a silverlining after a storm if you keep your head up and start again. it was a challenge to learn about the necessary permits, liscences, laws and steps to take to be able to take Quesalis to the next level. We knew that is ok to ask for help. Danny Gutman (Mely’s husband) joined on the journey later on offering his knowledge to help guiding us through the process. What sets our brand apart is our aunthenticity and passion to connect people from all over the world to our birthplace, El Salvador through food.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
LA is food destination!! So we would definitely take them on a food adventure journey. Start them with an early walk on the beach with a coffee and quesalis in hand to discuss the next stop . We always want people to know where the best pupusas are so take them to Salvy treats in whittier and if youre there on a sunday visit Estilotuyo market! Also if you want to try the best Arepas follow @thearepastand for their schedule!!! We absolutely love to hike la tuna canyon where you can either walk or do mountain biking. At the start of hike there sits our friend selling the best coconuts!!! We even would take them to rescue a new fury family member from @secondchancespetrescue There is endless activities to do in this City !! Farmer markets are a must!!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Our Grandparents! Who have been business owners for over 40 years in El Salvador, teaching us lessons on leadership, courage and resilience and also to not be afraid of hard work. We are blessed to have both of them alive-Ricardo and Marina Caceres whom we love dearly and owe so much. Shout out to them! the perfect definition of true hustlers Also our Grandma Juanita Ibarra who was a baker and the creator of our special recipe of the delicious “Pastelito de Pina”.