2014 Grants Challenge

Buy a paleta and secure a womans future.

LA Paletera de Los Angeles makes and sells fruit infused paletas to help women jumpstart their economic independence.


Please describe yourself.

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

LA Paletera de Los Angeles makes and sells fruit infused paletas to help women jumpstart their economic independence.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

Central LA

South LA

What is your idea/project in more detail?

Mujeres de la Tierra (MDLT) proposes to launch La Paletera de Los Angeles, a social entrepreneurial venture that was developed in response to the women we have partnered with over the years.

We are “up scaling” the current ice cream cart business model found in parks throughout LA. We will be making & selling healthy paletas (frozen fruit bars) with a highly trained workforce who will use the experience as a training ground for launching their own micro venture. This platform will add vibrancy to outdoor living and spark energy in neighborhoods. We will be training 10 women with entrepreneurial spirit and initiate the project with 4 paleteras, 2 part-time persons, 4 tricycle vending carts and sell in 2 venues: Central & South LA.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

For the past 3 years, Mujeres has conducted research on the current Paleta cart-vending industry in Los Angeles County, travelled to Mexico to get a better understanding of the origins of the paleta and current trends in the industry, developed an executive team, purchased basic “beginners” equipment and utensils to make paletas, contracted with a paleta-maker from Cancun, Mexico to teach us to make authentic paletas, investigated the various equipment and machinery needed to produce paletas, met with County of Los Angeles Health officials to better understand health standards for the making and selling of paletas including commissary standards and required certifications and licenses, and held a soft launch of La Paletera de Los Angeles at Marsh Park located next to the Los Angeles River in Northeast Los Angeles.

We want to take the next steps to launch La Paletera on a manageable scale to be in full operation by summer 2015 as we have venue commitments to sell our paletas. We will be unfolding the project by dividing up the process in 4 quarters of a calendar year:

First Quarter: Administrative and planning

• Research, order and purchase needed equipment for commissary

and paleta production and storage (paleta machine we have

identified makes 8,000 paletas an hour)

• Identify a space to set up the paleta-making

operation/commissary between 2500-3500 sq ft in economically

depressed area

• Engage County Department of Public Health and Environmental


• Outreach to community to identify first candidates for La

Paletera-10 total

• Develop needed manuals, policies and procedures

• Purchase & design 4 tricycle vending carts

• Create design for vending carts

• Acquire mandatory licenses & certifications

• Negotiate, prepare and finalize agreement with partners

• Secure insurance

Second Quarter: Setting up the commissary and settling-in

• Rent space and prepare for move-in

• Select Paleteras

• Develop training and training materials

Third Quarter:

• Training Paleteras and making paletas

Fourth Quarter:

• Sell paletas in designated venues

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CREATE today? In 2050?

MDLT is poised to launch LA Paletera de Los Angeles in the summer of 2015, a social micro-enterprise spinning off the rich food diversity found all over neighborhoods in Los Angeles. LA Paletera aims to reclaim a Mexican tradition of healthy and nutritious food offerings in the form of frozen fruit bars and natural fruit flavored waters. The model provides a creative entrepreneurial platform for women to develop healthy paleta and agua fresca recipes by drawing from their culinary repertoires brought from their hometowns in Latin America and incorporate knowledge of the best health food trends in Los Angeles. The idea is to encourage women to innovate by intersecting the traditional with the new and create recipes that contain high nutritional values that pack a solid dose of vitamins and minerals in one serving.

This is a win-win situation for residents in LA now and by 2050. LA Paletera hopes to have added the word paleta and agua fresca to the English lexicon just like taco and guacamole has become part of every day speak in the city! Angelenos from all walks of life will have an opportunity to experience the exotic flavors of fruit and vegetables found in Latin American. Angelenos will roll words off their tongues like tamarindo, horchata, mamey, flor de calabaza, nopal, guanabana, nance. More importantly by 2050 Angelenos will understand the nutritional value and cultural significance of all these fruits and vegetables and have an appreciation for the delicacies that make up the paletas and aguas frescas they are consuming. And as it is with any type of food, the crosspollination of ingredients from across the continent will be symbol of how all our cultures cross paths in all over LA County.

Another exciting community involvement feature that La Paletera will promote is to seek the participation of LA residents to help create flavor combinations that are unique to the surrounding communities, flavors that are associated to the particular neighborhood they live/work/play in. For example, a paleta de elote –corn paleta- will reference the Cornfield, which is the historical name of the Los Angeles Historic Park. Local sports teams and other community groups will be invited to partake in the fun by offering sponsorship opportunities for organizations to name a paleta after their favorite team or a community organization they support. The possibilities for engaging the participation and creativity across town are endless!

Whom will your project benefit?

LA Paletera de Los Angeles will benefit Angelenos across LA County as our vision is to expand LA Paletera throughout the city, because after all, who doesn’t like frozen treats in LA year round?! By 2050, our solar powered bicycle-propelled carts will offer an array of healthy treats around city streets in Central, East and South LA as well as the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valley’s, the South Bay and last but not least the Westside.

The goal of LA Paletera is to promote fun and creative ways to help Angelenos visualize and practice the circular connection between healthy eating habits and environmentally friendly practices and show how the synergy of these actions catapults a harmonious environment for the communities we live in. Our paleta and aguas frescas marketing campaigns will be all about taking care of our health, of one another, the communities we live in, and La Madre Tierra!

By 2050, Angelenos young and old will have a very clear understanding of the importance of being loyal customers to LA Paletera’s healthy product offerings. Residents of the county, by then, will know that their money supports a social micro-enterprise venture owned by women who have made their aspirations and dreams a reality by owning and successfully operating their own micro-enterprise. Women and their families from low-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles will be the primary beneficiaries of the LA Paletera project as they will reap the financial benefits accrued through the business. Angelenos in general will benefit as they can always count on LA Paletera cruising the streets of LA offering paletas and aguas frescas that are good for the health and the soul!

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

We have learned that our work is enhanced and strengthened when we engage and involve other non-profits, community organizations, neighborhood groups, community stakeholders and leaders. This effort will be no different. We have been talking about La Paletera for over 2 years and have worked and will continue to partner with:

• Anahuak Youth Sports Association

• Los Angeles River Corporation

• East Los Angeles Community Corporation

• Exposition Center

• Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas’ Office

• California State Parks

• Local Neighborhood Councils

• National Park Service

• Mountains and Recreation Conservation Authority

• Los Angeles Trade Technical College

• County Department of Public Health

• Baldwin Hills Conservancy and

• City of Culver City

• Mexican Consulate

We will cultivate additional partners and collaborators as the process unfolds.

How will your project impact the LA2050 CREATE metrics?

Employment in creative industries

Concentration of manufacturing activity in LA

Minority- and women-owned firms

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

La Paletera will focus on the following three metrics: Minority and Women Owned Firms, Employment in Creative Industries, Concentration of Manufacturing activity in LA.

LA Paletera business is a century old Mexican tradition that has been held by “el paletero” (men) and duplicated in Los Angeles in its original structure. This proposal is redefining this concept to expand and include minority women in the development of small business ventures such as in La Paletera de Los Angeles. Not only will women learn to run small businesses, this project will encourage them to become part of the ever-growing LA 2050 community.

The concept of the Paletera and paleta will get a makeover to meet the needs of our changing community, which focuses on healthier eating practices, creating environmentally healthier environments, and promoting individuals belonging to a positive healthy community of involved individuals that feel connected.

As women become knowledgeable and successful in this small business venture they will feel confident to transfer the newly acquired skills into creating their own business in their own neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Thus more businesses will grow and the vision is to have a new cycle of paleteras step into these positions. La Paletera de Los Angeles will create a wheel of motion that picks up momentum such as on a bicycle wheel. The project becomes self-sustaining and replicating. La Paletera venture is an inviting well known concept that brings people back to their youth. The idea does not need selling! La Paleta will get a new facelift that will bring more people on board and become fans of a delectable fruit on a popsicle!

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

MDLT will utilize qualitative and quantitative measures to evaluate La Paletera enterprise and the effectiveness of the small business Paletera as it develops in time. Data will be used to duplicate La Paletera business as the project grows. Daily sales by Paleteras will be documented and tracked. Feedback will be solicited via social media and on the spot conversation of buyer preferences and requests. Feedback will also be solicited from Paleteras regarding public comments, and impressions.

One of the goals of this project is to encourage women to access community outdoor spaces so as to increase their interaction with others in their community. This type of social experience will create increased confidence and connectivity to the Paleteras world. Those purchasing paletas will learn more about the value of fresh fruit popsicles and gain knowledge about the paleta making process. Paleteras will gain knowledge about healthy business practices and how to sustain and grow a business within the proper guidelines of their community.

Paleteras will serve as positive role model for their families and neighboring friends and serve as links to anyone who is interested in learning about starting a small enterprise. This information will be tracked through pre and post surveys and assessments.

An important measure of success will be how this learning experience encourages paleteras to engage with other people in the community, their fellow paleteras, and other businesses within the community.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

Trip to Mexico City for 8th Annual Conference and Exposition on Feria de Helados, February 2012

Over 5,000 participants registered for this 3-day conference made up of workshops, focus groups trainings and vendors. Our delegation of 2, were the only ones from the United States in attendance. We met one-person operated ventures as well as a family that has been in the paleta-making business for 3 generations.

Once we shared our dream with folks in attendance, we received overwhelming support, guidance and advice. They cherished the idea of us starting a venture to restore the paleta sold in the United States to the original “Michoacana” fruit based paleta and providing economic empowering opportunities for women. We met a social entrepreneur and healer of La Madre Tierra who travelled to the LA to teach us more about the business of the industry and taught us to make paletas: pineapple, mango, lime, lime with mint, berry and mango with chili. He continues to be our consultant and mentor.

This trip was more like a journey as the people validated our business proposition and inspired us to launch La Paletera.

Soft Launch at Marsh Park, April 2013

We wanted to test our paletas in a public gathering and in a beautiful, open green space and show off our colorful electric tricycle carrying paletas of all flavors and colors….and we had that opportunity where over 500 adults, teens and children who spent a hot spring day by the Los Angeles River. We gathered filled out surveys, videotaped the smiles of children (of all ages) as they enjoyed their frozen fruit bar and photographed families enjoying themselves with laughter, sunshine and great tasting paletas.

The entire experience was exhilarating and reaffirming. Many have called us to order paletas for their events, family celebrations and community gatherings.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

We have immersed ourselves on many elements of La Paletera and the timing is right to launch La Paletera de Los Angeles. A year after our soft launch at Marsh Park, we keep getting requests for our product and being invited to feature our signature flavors at many public events.

We have developed an extensive network and rolodex of experts in the field from assembling the kitchen and commissary to specialists in building tricycle vending carts-all local-all Los Angeles City or LA County based. We have created goodwill and social capital over the years and the public is responding not only to the great tasting paletas but the mission of financially empowering women to create a better life for their families and children.

Mujeres de la Tierra and the Paletera executive committee has spent considerable amount of time, resources, and effort over the last 3 years to become knowledgeable and acquire a comprehensive understanding of the paleta-making industry in both California and Mexico. Studying especially the challenges of cart vending and working conditions of current paleta street vendors, perfecting the art of making a delicious and healthy traditional paleta and engaging County of Los Angeles Departments to learn how to stay in compliance with both public health and public safety.

More important, our discussions and dreams evolve around the significant and profound impact this could have on individual families and their children to have an opportunity to move forward to work and plan towards building a foundation for economic stability. When a family thrives so does the neighborhood. La Paletera is about stirring up the untapped potential in the many folks who dream about starting their own micro- enterprise in their community as well as integrating our paleteras in community life through social networking and active personal engagement.

The dynamics and excitement from the public from last year’s soft launch of La Paletera along the Los Angeles River in Northeast Los Angeles convinced us we are ready to take the next big step: launch the project. We know we can attain our goal because of all of the work, research, planning, dreaming, studying, promoting we have achieved to date and the many “professional” volunteers committed to be with us as we begin the next stage of our journey.

Let the paleta-making begin!

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

Our biggest challenge is that in many parts of Los Angeles County, food cart vending is illegal including in the City of Los Angeles. We are supporting the campaign to make street vending legal in the City of Los Angeles as well as other parts of the County. We believe street cart vending will become legal in the City of Los Angeles and in other jurisdictions within the County of Los Angeles-it is just a matter of time. We were so concerned about the consequences of being arrested for being a street vendor, we met with a prosecutor from the City Attorney’s office (Los Angeles) to fully understand the process after the arrest.

We have known since the beginning that vending is not allowed in many places and our plan is to work in those jurisdictions where cart vending is legal. We have developed contacts and relationships with numerous jurisdictions including the City of Culver City and California State Parks where we have the opportunity to become a vendor. Both venues will be considered for our launch.

Another major challenge is the safety and security for the paleteras. During our field research, the current paleta vendors shared frightening incidents of being “shaken down” by gang members or other intimidating people for their daily earnings. Currently this is a cash business and the money is readily available since many vendors just put the cash in their pockets.

We will be installing a secured mechanism where cash will be deposited within the cart and plan to use devices such as the square to have the ability to take credit cards. Safety policies and procedures will be of the Paletera training. The goal is to negotiate a secure space to temporarily store the tricycle cart for lunch and other breaks.