The Latinos of Stylos: Entrepreneur of the Year

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Although Phoenix is the 6th largest city in the country, it doesn’t always feel that way because of urban sprawl; the freeways, strip malls, and corporate storefronts are scattered across the metropolitan area. Thankfully, Phoenix is host to entrepreneurs trying to challenge that image, three of whom have been nominated by the Stylos Awards for their efforts to engage Phoenikeros in ways that allow the creative and social communities to develop at home instead of exporting themselves to L.A. or New York. Phoenix has been brewing its own brand of culture, art, social work, and music for a long time, but people from afar are just now taking notice.

These three Phoenikeros are Jorge Ignacio Torres of Palabra, Silvana Salcido Esparza of Barrio Queen, and Miguel and Mary Jo Camarena of Fuga Energy.

Photo credit: Experiences Scottsdale
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Silvana Salcido Esparza’s name should be familiar to most Phoenikeros for three reasons: her delicious food, her involvement in the Calle 16 Mural Project, and she’s also, simply, a chingona. The Calle 16 project is about trying to build community, one wall at a time, in order to spark a Phoenician movement. She is being nominated for her most recent restaurant venture, Barrio Queen, in Scottsdale, which features some of the traditional popular dishes you can find at Barrio Café on 16th st and Thomas, combined with over 20 different taco options, such as Huitlacoche y Champinon, and Carne Asada, Chorizo and Blue Cheese. You can also find more traditional fare such as burritos, quesadillas, tortas, enchiladas, soups and salads, with unexpected twists.

Photo credit: abv_hvn
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Jorge Ignacio Torres is the founder of Palabra on 7th st and pierce, right off of 7th st and Roosevelt, which is not far from Roosevelt Row. Palabra doubles as an art gallery, but it’s also been host to music performances, poetry reading…Riff Raff has even had his hair braided there. What other hair salon can offer that, in any city? Jorge has talked to Remezcla about his desire to expand Palabra in the spirit of one of the places that inspired him to start his own venture: Modified Arts, back when they still hosted shows, alongside being an art gallery. Palabra is unlike any hair salon I’ve ever seen. Art by local artists decorates the brick walls, and its all curated by Jorge himself. He regularly hosts different artists and musicians every month for First Friday, which creates a great opportunity for local artists to gain exposure.

Fuga Energy was founded by Miguel Camarena and his wife, Mary Jo Camarena, who wanted to create an energy drink that uses natural ingredients, is healthy, and provides long-lasting energy. They use herbal ingredients such as yerba mate, prickly pear cactus, gingko biloba, guarana, milk thistle, and acai berry to make Fuga. Miguel used to work for soft drink companies from 1991 to 2002, and it was during the time that he first developed the idea to create a healthy energy drink. Miguel and his wife began studying ingredients, and eventually put the recipe together. They launched their product in March of 2012, and they are continuing to grow steadily; they’re affiliated with various local foundations, such as the Cesar Chavez Foundation and Chicanos Por La Causa. Recently, they helped out by supporting the Developing Dreams conference, which helps to provide professional development for youth.

Think you know who’ll win? Think Stylos missed someone? Let us know in the comments.