Dos Amores Needs a Helping Hand

Help us Scale-Up Our Organic Corn Tortilla Production & Change the Mexican Food Aisle for the Better
 
Hola Amores,
 
We’re asking our big, beautiful network and community for help so that we can continue to bring authentic Mexican food to Canada. With your support, we will soon be able to produce the first organic corn tortilla packaged in a compostable plant-based bag (not a plastic one!) available at the grocery store.
 
We need your help to install our tortilla machine and production line. After making it through the immensely challenging landscape of the pandemic, we are running on fumes financially at a time when it is critical for us to scale our business so that we can continue to do what we love in our community.
 
 
Last year, we successfully imported a tortilla machine from Tlaxcala, Mexico, that will help us go from producing 400 tortillas per day to 500 per hour - but we haven’t been able to come up with the funds ourselves to install the machine and our production line. We have exhausted our resources after the long haul of the pandemic, and as our business was founded during it, very little government support was available to us.
 
 
This machine is the key to our business being viable and integral to jump-starting our journey as food producers keen on changing the Mexican food aisle at the grocery store for the better.
 
We’re asking our community for help because we know that our community would want us to ask when we need support. We know that so many of us have experienced hardship during the pandemic, and we are really grateful to have made it this far and to have this opportunity. Thank you for helping us get here and being there for us!
 
We will use the funds raised to:
 
  • get the tortilla machine installed to Canadian standards with the help of an engineer and a gas fitter
  • setup a small production line with second-hand equipment (a mixer, commercial vacuum seal machine and freezer)
  • help us get caught up on our remaining operational deficits due to the pandemic and move forward with a fresh slate
 
Any additional funds raised will:
 
  • fund the first order of our plastic-free packaging and design, so we are ready to get into grocery stores!
 
How you can help:
 
  • if you are in a position to, support this GoFundMe!
  • share it with your network!
  • come by the Tortillería to buy a gift card or a meal, or hire us to do a catering!
  • tell your friends about us and send them our way for a delicious meal!
 
_________________________
 
If you want to hear how we got to where we are, here is the back story…
 
For those who don’t know us, we are Chef Deborah Peña Berber and Miranda Caterer, the married Dos Amores behind Dos Amores Tortillería.
 
Our journey to where we are today began in 2019 when we opened Salty Hospitality, our first business venture together here on Salt Spring Island. Salty Hospitality offered event rentals and staffing, catering and wedding planning. Miranda is also the Wedding Director for a local farm, and so at the time, our livelihood was entirely reliant on the event industry.
 
We booked the summer of 2020 solid with events and weddings, poised to have an incredible season. We all know the plot twist that follows…
 
By the end of March 2020, every single event and wedding client had canceled or postponed leaving us in a pinch to return deposits and scrambling to rebook them for a future date. All of our income was virtually gone in a mere few weeks.
 
We tried to figure out what was next for us, and the idea of catering to islanders stuck at home was top of mind. We started delivering taco kits made with locally sourced ingredients to customers every Friday night. Deb took on all the cooking, and Miranda supported by handling operations and taking a full-time job at Community Services to try and make ends meet.
 
 
 
 
Week after week, it became clear that while the taco kits were loved, the tortillas were the REAL star of the show. Demand for our fresh-pressed tortillas made from organic corn kept us up for many late nights, pressing by hand to fulfill orders.
 
We sensed we really ‘had something’ and became passionately focused on our tortillas - especially as we compared them with what was available on the shelves at the grocery store: dry tortillas that fell apart (requiring you to use two per taco), plastic packages covered in offensive stereotypes and cultural appropriation, lack of Mexican representation, and prices that couldn’t possibly reflect a living wage being paid to employees or quality ingredients being used - all things that still fuel us to this day to keep going.
 
Up until this point, we had been renting a seasonal commercial kitchen and winter 2020 was fast approaching. Unable to continue in our current space and not wanting to lose momentum, we told our network that we were looking for a more permanent home. We sought one that would hopefully have retail capabilities so that customers could come to us.
 
Thanks to a friend, we were introduced to our now landlord, who saw and believed in our vision. They took a chance on us, and we signed the papers for our current space - it was a wild, momentous, joyful time!
 
 
 
Following this, we got to work on securing a loan to purchase the tortilla machine. We were granted a Green Loan funded by Transition Salt Spring Enterprise Cooperative to do just that - an integral part of the whole puzzle working!
 
The machine faced many delays due to the ongoing pandemic. Thankfully, we had always envisioned a multi-faceted business for resiliency: tortilla production to carry on year-round, quick service food to bring in customers and have them try our tortillas, and take-home items like salsa to expand our arm of food production. So, we pivoted and leaned on the quick-service food and retail items to ‘keep the lights on' while waiting for the machine. The tortilla machine finally arrived just before summer 2021.
 
 
We were busy with the demand for quick service food at the time, and without the funds to install it right away, we carried on - still hopeful we could secure another loan or make enough profit to keep bootstrapping our business.
 
One very busy summer flew by, and the next thing we knew, it was September 2021. Our sales began to drop. We chalked it up to school being back on or the latest COVID wave and assured ourselves it was temporary. However, October and November saw our sales decline to completely unsustainable levels, as it did for many of our fellow industry members. As a newly established business without any government support at this time, we were forced to let go and lay off all of our team members but one. Still to this day, the most challenging day of business ownership.
 
 
Feeling defeated and unsure how to continue, we closed our storefront for a month over the holidays to regroup. We hoped to find clarity and figure out a way forward. We kept only tortilla production going during that time. Following this break over the holidays, we then both contracted a nasty case of COVID, and our recovery took an entire month, further delaying our return to work.
 
This brings us to where we are today…
 
Thankfully we were able to reopen mid-February 2022 with a renewed focus on tortilla production. Armed with all of our year-one learnings under our belt, it has been about two months since we re-opened.
 
While we are pursuing every path to fund the installation of the tortilla machine and set up our production line, we also have catching up from last season. We need access to funds ASAP if we want to keep going. Traditional lending is proving difficult for us to obtain thanks to being already overdrawn from the pandemic. Our personal resources are completely tapped, despite working other jobs to bootstrap the Tortillería as well.
 
This machine is the key to it all working, so we’re turning to our community for help during this critical time. We need your help to scale by connecting this machine and setting up a humble and efficient production line.
 
Having shared all this, we know and acknowledge that our story is not unique, and we are one of many who need lifting up by their community at this time. If our particular story and what we do resonates with you - thank you for seeing us.
 
How you can help:
  • if you are in a position to, support this GoFundMe!
  • share it with your network!
  • come by the Tortillería to buy a gift card or a meal, or hire us to do a catering!
  • tell your friends about us and send them our way for a delicious meal!
 
If you have questions or comments related to our GoFundMe, we encourage you to come by and speak to us in person at the Tortilleria. We'd love to meet you and would be happy to share more.
 
So in the meantime, we will keep being in service to our community and looking forward to what is sure to be an unforgettable year as we endeavor to keep tortilla production organic, plastic-free and in our community while creating jobs that pay a living wage and hosting cultural community events that give back.
 
 
With love and gratitude,
 
Miranda and Deb x
 
Photo credits: thank you to Morgan Fraser of Saltine for the photograph used in our header. Thank you to Misty Whittaker of Foggy Morning Photography for the last photo (taken at Dia de los Muertos 2021).
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Organizer

Miranda Caterer 
Organizer
Salt Spring Island, BC