WomenVenture client, Belen Rodriguez, is owner of Quebracho Empanadas in St. Paul, MN.
Belen Rodriguez never planned to start a frozen empanada business. Shortly before the world was shot down prior to the pandemic, she began her catering company, specializing in charcuterie and savory pies. But when the world was upended by COVID, she re-thought, re-engineered and pivoted to start Quebracho Empanadas, producing wildly popular and delicious empanadas.
Belen says she found herself in March of 2020 realizing her catering model just wouldn’t work as events were canceled one after another. “My husband and I sat down and said, ‘Okay, what are we going to do? Are we going to fully close the business?’ My husband suggested selling the empanadas frozen at grocery stores or try them out at farmers markets.” That’s what they did, and Quebracho Empanadas was born.
Starting amidst such a chaotic time for the world would be intimidating, yet Belen found support and success through community, and the business rapidly took off. “We went to six different farmers markets to test out the product and it did very well so that’s how we decided to rebrand for good. We just progressively grew from there and fast forward just about 10 months, and we are in 60 stores in three states: Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.” Plus she says there are even more exciting conversations underway to get the empanadas in some major retailers.
Belen credits this rapid growth to her involvement with WomenVenture, saying “WomenVenture has helped us make it sustainable to keep this growth in a very organic way. I see my two loan officers and WomenVenture as not just a lending organization but a partner in growth. I know I can come to them and be fully open about my goals.”
We are so glad to have Belen and Quebracho as part of the WomenVenture family, and that’s really what lies at the heart of her business: celebrating conversation, laughter, and food, and replicating the experience of a family Sunday in Argentina.