ROCK ISLAND – A holiday market fueled by diverse cultural traditions, homemade food and arts, and the entrepreneurial spirit of women striving for change starts Saturday and will continue through most of the holiday season.
The Buenas Nuevas Market is finalizing its set-up today, to showcase nine women with unique small or start-up businesses through Dec. 20. The Market at 321 24th St. in Rock Island (former home to Clock Inc.) will be open Monday through Saturday for the next six weeks, from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tamales, empanadas, bubble tea, and barbecue are just some of what will be offered. Balloon art, themed candles, embroidered tumblers and other snacks will also be featured. Market founder Jen Hart, who owns Bubble’s Boba Tea in Davenport, says the goal is to unite different cultural identities while also giving business women a unique space to thrive.
“We all can equally say we have the experience of where people look at the color of our skin, or our hair, or how tall we are, or they hear our accent, and think we don’t know things,” says Hart. “But these women are all extremely intelligent business owners.”
Some of the women entrepreneurs featured at Buenas Nuevas are like Erika Ubeda, and Ana Vallejo, both of whom are building their businesses out of their homes for now. Ubeda already runs a brick-and-mortar business, Isa Balloon Design, and is trying to get her new Eli’s Empanadas off the ground. Vallejo aims to stay home-based but build a full industrial kitchen onto her home.
The market is a chance for their new businesses to grow at a manageable pace, Vallejo says.
Others are like Maria Urbina and Yasmin Gabriel, who feel their business progress has been slowed by language barriers. Urbina runs a custom embroidery and engraving business called Urbinas Creations, while Gabriel and her family will be providing tamales for the Market.
The two are also striving to serve specific family needs by building their own businesses: Urbina is raising money for her son who still lives in Mexico and was recently seriously injured, and Gabriel aims to build her business strong enough that she can finally leave her long-time caretaking job, that requires her to be on constant call and often away from her own family.
Toni Bare, a chef and food truck operator, is another leader of the Buenas Nuevas Market. Bare, owner of Toni’s Smokin’ Grill and sauces, says she’s experienced racially-tinged language from some fellow business owners, enduring terms like “shuckin’ and jivin’ ” during inappropriate times. She says the market is a chance to pursue business goals in a “safe and welcoming environment.”
Yet another presenter at the market is Danielle Jones, who runs her own candle business, Candle Witch, while also helping her husband run their contracting business. Jones learned of the event at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and found the Buenas Nuevas presenters’ focus on camaraderie to be appealing.
“I think these women want to not just build their businesses but build community within their businesses,” she said. “That’s really attractive to me.”
The market will also include MozBites, an Indian and African food business owned by Acissa Chamia.
Eventually, Hart says, she and the Creative Women of Color hope the market space will be equipped with a full industrial kitchen, paving the way for the market to be open continuously.
For now, you can explore Buenas Nuevas Market from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday through Wed., Dec. 20. Food will be served at the market only from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, see the Facebook pages for the Buenas Nuevas Market, or for Creative Women of Color.
(cover photo features (back row) Maria Urbinas, Jen Hart, Toni Bare, Erika Ubeda, and Ana Vallejo; and (front row) Danielle Jones and Yasmin Gabriel)