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Austin From Scratch, Episode #23: Veronica Garza, Co-Founder of Siete Family Foods

Austin From Scratch is our favorite series on the blog and involves Owen (age 11) and Malia (age 9) interviewing local entrepreneurs who have created a thriving business here in the heart of Texas.  For this session, we sat down with Veronica Garza, Co-Founder of Siete Family Foods.  We choose Siete because we love, love, love their tortillas and just can’t get enough of their chips.  We hope you enjoy!

Owen (our 11-year-old son): What were you favorite things to do as a kid?

Veronica: I liked to hang out with my family and siblings.  I’m one of five siblings so I would just hang out with my brothers and sisters and we would play outside a lot.  We jumped on the trampoline and I also did gymnastics and cheerleading.  I also loved to read, but more than anything I was always hanging out with my brothers and sisters.

Malia (our 9-year-old daughter): How did you go about learning as a child?

Veronica: I was a good listener in school but a lot of my learning was really talking and listening to my parents.  I would just listen to them while they were having conversations and talking about stuff.  I also learned by talking to my older brothers and sisters.  I was also very creative and learned by doing things “hands on.”  In fact, I still learn that way.  For example, I got my MBA but I have learned so much more by running a business … by actually doing it … than I ever learned in school.

Owen: How would you describe Siete Family Foods?

Veronica: Siete Family Foods makes healthy, grain-free Mexican-American food.  As of today, we make tortillas and tortilla chips for the natural food market.  We provide options for people – whether it’s for health reasons or by choice – who can’t eat corn, wheat or a lot of stuff that’s sold in grocery stores.  So we provide a line of products that people can eat in their home and enjoy.  We’re also a family-owned business and the reason we’re called Siete Family Foods is because we have seven people in our family and siete means “seven” in Spanish.

Malia: My parents are obsessed with your tortilla chips.

Veronica: (laughing) Well I’m glad to hear that!

Malia: When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Veronica: I don’t know that I ever wanted to be an entrepreneur.  It just happened.  I started making a product for myself in my own kitchen because there weren’t any options out there for me.  I have a couple of auto-immune conditions so I was really sick for a long time.  I had to start eating grain-free because it helped me to feel better.  I had to develop this product because nobody else was going to do it for me.  I was making it on my own for a long time at home until I realized a lot of other people could benefit from it.  I thought that starting a business was the best way to help people by providing them with this product.  So being an entrepreneur wasn’t something I really thought of growing up, or even when I got older, but I definitely do enjoy the fact that I started this business.

Owen: What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?

Veronica: Providing a product to people that can be really helpful in their lives and then hearing from those people – they’ll send us email and messages on Facebook and Instagram – telling us our tortillas and chips have changed their lives.  I always get a sense of fulfillment and joy knowing that I’ve helped them with food.

Malia: What’s the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?

Veronica: There’s a lot of stress that comes with being an entrepreneur, and for me that can be a problem in dealing with my different auto-immune conditions.  A lot of time stress can trigger it.  It’s trying to balance things that happen in a business with my mental health and ensuring that I can handle it and I don’t get sick.  Also, when you own a business you just can’t go home at the end of the day and watch TV as you’re always thinking about your business.

Owen: What would you be doing if you weren’t the Co-Founder of Siete Family Foods?

Veronica: I would probably still be teaching students.  That’s what I was doing before I started doing this.  I was actually teaching freshman at a university.  But I’m not sure that I would be totally happy doing it.  I would probably be wishing I was doing this.

Malia: What’s a typical day for you?

Veronica: I wake up and get ready but not too early because that’s part of my stress management.  I usually wake up between 7:30 and 8:00 and then I come to work.  I sit in on meeting sometimes, whether it’s here or outside the office.  I’m often in the kitchen, sometimes cooking just for fun and sometimes for product development.  I’m trying to create new recipes that we can hopefully put on the shelf one day.  And then around 5:30, myself and my family and a bunch of our employees get together and we work out at our gym here in the office.  Then I go home and make dinner, maybe watch TV for an hour, do a little bit of reading before bed and try to get in bed by 11:00.

Malia: What’s your favorite ice cream?

Veronica: I used to say plain vanilla but I’ve gotten a little more adventurous.  Nowadays I like pistachio ice cream or anything with nuts in it.

Owen: What’s your favorite product that you make?

Veronica: It changes.  Initially, it was the first product that we made which was the almond flour tortilla.  And then we made a cassava coconut tortilla and that became my favorite.  I switch back and forth between those two depending upon what I’m making as I try not to have favorites.  When it comes to chips, my favorite is nacho!

Thank you Veronica for the great interview.  It’s time for some Siete chips and salsa!

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