We were lucky to catch up with Javier & Jasmine Huertas recently and have shared our conversation below.
Javier & Jasmine, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today. We’d love to have you retell us the story behind how you came up with the idea for your business, I think our audience would really enjoy hearing the backstory.
Javier was born and raised in Guatemala. His dad started learning about creating and making cookware when Javier was a baby. He felt strongly about giving the people of Guatemala a high-quality product at an affordable cost and grew the company to be the #1 cookware company in Guatemala by his focus on quality and service.
As long as we have been together, (married 11 years now), it has been in the back of our minds to bring his families cookware to the USA. We were not sure how or when but when Covid hit, and Javier had a severe work injury that had him home recovering for over 3 months, it gave us time to consider our options and we decided that this was the time to dive in! So, Cusina Maya was born. We received our first shipment in early June 2021 and were open for business by July. Since July 2021 we have been a part of many vendor and community events, have been on tv with Fox8 News and Kickin’it with Kenny and have started to make our brand known and serve people here with a high quality product. You can also find us in several local retailers!
Javier & Jasmine, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
We specialize in high- quality affordable cookware, handcrafted in Guatemala by Javier’s family. We are passionate about helping families create memories around the table by giving them an easy to care for product that will last for a long time. We also like to carry a few items that are difficult to find here but authentic to Guatemalan culture, such as the Comal, which is basically a Latin griddle and our family favorite and most popular item! Being a family-owned operation, we love showing our daughters (we have 4 daughters) how to help build a family legacy through hard work, excellent service and truly caring about the people we serve.
It is very important to us that our customers know that we are proud to stand behind a product that we have used in our home for years and support the Guatemalan country in this way. We love to cook and we love to help people make meals by sharing that love of cooking through videos, recipes and kitchen tips. Our cookware is incredibly lightweight but still very strong and durable. It is handcrafted and unlike most cookware you can find here in the USA.
One other important thing to note is that our cookware is incredibly helpful to those in the elderly community or with disabilities. We would like to help people to be able to enjoy cooking with tools that are easy to use and clean and are also safer in weight and longevity.
What’s been the most effective strategy for growing your clientele?
Our initial plan was to start and grow our business to be primarily an E-commerce store. One of the things we realized early on was that, unless we had huge capital (which we did not!) we really needed to get out there and meet people to make this succeed. We are both very social and at ease in talking to people and meeting new customers. So we looked for community events and pop-ups that would allow us to meet people face to face, hand them our product, get to know their pain points when it comes to cooking and baking and really serve our customers in the best way. We also realized we would need to consider other avenues, so we began exploring the retail market. We looked for stores that served our ideal customer and that were lacking in their cookware options.
I think when you know what your “Why” is, it is easier to talk about your product. You need to get specific about what you are doing, who you are trying to reach and why your product is helpful to them. It is also really important to talk to people and ask questions. When in person, that is key to drawing people in. When you show you truly care, people know that. The product becomes secondary because at the end of the day, people will purchase from whom they trust! We have some overlap from Jasmine’s previous business and Javier’s other business of customers that like us and trust us and therefore, have purchased from us. That is how you start. By reaching people where they are at, solving their problem and really caring about them.
Learning and unlearning are both critical parts of growth – can you share a story of a time when you had to unlearn a lesson?
We believe that being a business owner, especially a start-up, is a constant lesson in perseverance. we joke that everyone should start a business with their spouse in the middle of a pandemic but the truth is that we have had to learn more about each other and our strengths and weaknesses than any other time in our marriage!
One of the most important lessons I (Jasmine) have had to learn is to value Javier’s perspective. He was in the trenches while his family grew the business in Guatemala and has the knowledge of that history. For a time, we thought that the best place to market our product was to areas that were a little more fortunate. After having a couple dismal event failures, we were getting frustrated. Javier realized early on that we needed to get back to the roots of what his family did and reach people in need. His dad started making cookware to give the people of Guatemala to have a high-quality product that was still affordable. In this country, there is a stigma that lightweight equals cheap. That is actually not the case, at least not our case! We had to relearn our marketing plan and be sure that our true voice and why was being heard. And I learned how much value my husband’s history brings to this dream of ours.
- Website: cusinamayacookware.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/cusinamayacookware
- Facebook: facebook.com/cusinamayacookware
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cusina-maya-cookware-951382237/
@clebysap photo credit for some of the professional images