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Inspiring Conversations with SalsaQueen Zapata of Salsa Queen

Today we’d like to introduce you to SalsaQueen Zapata.

Hi SalsaQueen, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I came to this country when just 17 years old. I didn’t finish high school and didn’t speak English, so after finding myself divorced with no work experience or education, I started Salsa Queen to provide for my 7 children.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Where to start? Very bumpy and challenging. Having a business is not easy. Buying equipment with very little capital, developing products with customer demand, getting into grocery stores, dealing with business partners, expanding, transforming the business model, moving into distribution, living through COVID, finding and keeping key employees… and the list goes on!

We’ve been impressed with Salsa Queen, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Within 7 years, Salsa Queen has become the largest producer of fresh, gourmet salsas in the state. We are now in nearly 1000 stores across 30+ states. With our new Freeze-Dried line of salsas, we are now shipping internationally too!

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
I immigrated from Mexico when I was 17 and didn’t speak English, so I never finished high school.

My first child had leukemia, so I spent the first 19-months of his life at Children’s Primary hospital, which is where I learned English. Our logo, the sugar skull, represents ‘Day of the Dead’ in Mexico which is a holiday where we believe our family members who have passed on come back and partake of food that we prepare for them.

So, our logo is a constant reminder of my son who passed away at such a young age.

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