4 Lessons Latina Founder Geraldine Ridaura Has Learned Since Opening San Diego’s First Matcha Cafe

Amber Thrane of Dulcet Creative

Geraldine Ridaura’s entrepreneurial career started with a simple problem, she couldn’t drink coffee. Coffee didn’t sit well with her, so while trying to find alternatives that made sense she landed on two things — she loved matcha and there were no matcha cafes in San Diego.

“There’s never the ‘right’ time to transition into being a business owner,” explains Ridaura. “Even though I had already done my research, it was still a very risky and scary moment to be in. But it had to be done! It felt as if I just needed to pull off the bandaid and carry on.”

In many ways, pulling the bandaid off is exactly what she did. Ridaura self-funded the opening of Holy Matcha, San Diego’s first matcha cafe in 2017, and is now using revenue earned from the first location to open a second location this year.

“On several occasions, I have been approached about joining new developments in San Diego and even nationally,” shares Ridaura. “I am interested in growth, but only if it’s the right fit for my main product— matcha.  My ambition has never been about having a shop in every corner. I don’t concentrate my efforts in doing everything on a large scale, rather I want to do everything right.”

For Ridaura, matcha is the most important touchpoint to a larger conversation around health and wellness. Over the last few months she’s used Holy Matcha to host conversations that bring together cafe regulars and those who embrace the brand online. The events are centered on networking and listening to individuals’ desire for healthier, well-rounded lives.

Bring your community in-house

The ability to tap into Holy Matcha’s community and extend their offerings to them is one of the biggest lessons Ridaura has learned since starting the cafe. “There are many women in my digital community that are interested in pursuing their dream of wellness and want to build a brand,” explains Ridaura. “I tapped into this community to create ‘Matcha Mornings,’ a platform that unites a driven group of women that have broad interests. We share experiences, discuss challenges in pursuing a career and building a brand. It has been an amazing experience to meet them all and listen to their hopes and dreams. Through this channel, I’ve also been fortunate enough to mentor some women and help guide them as they jump-start their career/business.”

Embrace your unique lived experiences

For Ridaura, growing up Latina has helped mold her both as a person and as an entrepreneur. “I would attribute my passion, drive and work ethic to my parents,” notes Ridaura. “I remember my parents and grandparents telling me from a very young age what truly makes an individual great, and at the core of this message was always, honesty, hard work, passion and to always help, inspire and build up those around you… What you learn and live at home, you take with you throughout your life.”

Practice trusting your gut

Holy Matcha is Ridaura’s first swing at entrepreneurship, but she wants to pay forward what she’s already learned so that other Latinas feel more confident in their own journeys. “Once you find the space you feel comfortable with, don’t let anyone tell you that there is only one way to negotiate a deal,” encourages Ridaura. “The deal will be what is best for you and what fits best in your business model.  Don’t be afraid to ask and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.  Nothing is ever off the table. Nothing. Brick and mortar is a place to start, the most important thing is to dream big.”

Look to others who are a few steps ahead or alongside you

“Mentorship has been crucial to the success of my business,” shares Ridaura.  “Without that guidance, someone to challenge you to think things through, to make you question yourself and guide you when you feel things are so difficult, your dream won’t be realized.” Looking for others who have navigated similar paths can help ensure that your own path is guided by the best lights possible. Mistakes will still be made, but it helps to know that someone else can help encourage you through them.

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