Built for business: senior Rebeca Ramón launches her company, Mi Horchateria

Rebeca Ramón’s Latinx heritage and entrepreneurial spirit provide the perfect ingredients for the creation of her homemade horchata business, Mi Horchateria.

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Senior Rebeca Ramón pictured shipping horchata (Rebeca Ramón)

Jaime Svinth

Out of the scattered stand-alone Spanish vocab words you remember from eighth grade, chances are “horchata” isn’t one of them. The traditional, sweet rice milk beverage was more than a treat for senior Rebeca Ramón, who soon transformed it into an entrepreneurial Instagram venture. After months of making her own horchata in quarantine, Mi Horchateria was born, and Ramón has been bringing her love for her heritage to the Nashville community since. 

Though she’s lived in San Francisco for most of her life, Ramón’s parents immigrated from Uruguay, where her brother and much of her family still live. Her Latin American roots not only shaped the culture of the home she grew up in but leveraged her connection to the adjacent Hispanic community.

“Uruguay is a very influential part of who I am and how I was brought up,” Ramón said. “I lived in a mostly Mexican neighborhood and was immersed in incredible Mexican cuisine. That’s where I fell in love with horchata.”

Local Mexican became Ramón’s main source of the sweet beverage. Out of the boredom of quarantine, she tackled the project of making her own and turned to vendors for their recipe expertise. However, many owners shared that they used a commercial, powdered version of the drink, not having the time to make it themselves.

“For someone who loves Horchata so much, it kind of broke my heart that something so good was being given in such a toxic way,” Ramon said.

For Ramón, this was a call to action. As an HOD major and Latino Studies minor at Vanderbilt, the unity of business and the Hispanic community came naturally.

“I looked around and saw that there is absolutely no one else making a dairy free organic version of horchata. It doesn’t exist out there on the market. I saw a huge potential,” Ramón said. “I felt like all my experiences were aligning and setting me up for success in the horchata business.”

Rebeca Ramón’s self-designed horchata packaging (Rebeca Ramón)

Ramón’s challenge to create and sell the best horchata was underway. After receiving validation from her parents, she moved on to market research and taste testing. Ramon experimented with ingredient quantities and types, such as brown sugar versus white sugar, and brought family and friends in for blind taste tests of each new batch.

Hoping to understand what organic traction she could obtain online, she initiated her Instagram storefront without telling her peers. Once she finally broke the news, she found herself inundated with support.

“I had no idea people would be so vocal about their support. That was a huge blessing,” Ramón said.

The Instagram and website soon became one of her favorite parts of developing her business. She spent hours at the computer creating social media graphics and watching YouTube videos to learn how to code for web development. However, more work for Mi Horchateria meant less devoted to being a student.

“I’m a one-woman team, so I’m doing everything,” Ramón said. “I’m making the horchata. I’m packaging it. I’m setting it up for pickup. I’m talking to customers, and I’m running the Instagram.”

Ramón’s Google Calendar soon became even more of an essential. Amongst her increasingly busy schedule, she welcomes the challenge of balancing her school and work life.

“It has taken more time than I expected. It’s overwhelming but in a really exhilarating way,” Ramón said.

After a hectic week of campaign preparation, Ramón opened for business Sept. 12. Mi Horchateria sold 55 bottles within the first week, bringing the smooth taste of horchata to familiar and new faces in the Nashville area.

“I feel proud of myself for taking an idea and turning it into something tangible and real and something that brings joy and refreshment to other people,” Ramón said. “I can see that every day, so that’s very rewarding.”

Currently doing business out of her own home, Ramón hopes to find a business partner that can make and sell her fresh horchata in Northern California, where many of her orders come from. She looks to connect with future vendors to sell her product indirectly.

In the short term, Ramón is focusing on taking the business one order at a time and continuing to grow her customer base.

“I think it’s been really humbling,” Ramón said. “I have this super long list of things I need to do with Mi Horchateria, but I just have to focus on getting each order done and taking it customer by customer.”