Hispanic Business Rooted In Passion and Tradition

This successful Hispanic food industry business developed its product line from family tradition.

La Dorita’s dulce de leche is an all-natural, preservative free, homemade spread made with fresh from the farm milk provided by local creameries in Pennsylvania. This authentic Argentinean recipe is a treat for the whole family.

In 2009, Josephine and Gaston Oria wanted to share Josephine’s grandmother’s recipe with the world, and they took the steps to make their dream a reality.

Origins of La Dorita’s Hispanic business

The guiding forces behind the creation of La Dorita’s dulce de leche were a passion for baking and keeping a family tradition alive.

This Hispanic business journey of La Dorita began more than forty years ago when Josephine Oria’s adventurous father, Oliver and mother, Beatriz left their home country of Argentina in 1974; a country they loved, but believed had limitations for their aspirations and their future.

Dr. Oliver Caminos came to the United States to pursue a Cardiology Fellowship at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The family of eight settled in a community outside of Pittsburgh with long established Latin American roots and culture.

When Dorita, Josephine’s grandmother came from Argentina to visit the family, Josephine was side by side with her in the kitchen cooking. And like most grandmother’s Dorita cooked with love and intuition and without recipes.

Years later when Josephine married Gaston Oria and started their family, Josephine began her Hispanic family traditions of her own. The Oria family birthday cake was one of these traditions. A key ingredient in this birthday cake was dulce de leche. Unfortunately, Josephine could not always find a suitable dulce de leche, and when she did find one it had often been sitting on a store shelf for months, if not years.

As Josephine explains it, “Creating my grandmother’s dulce de leche was a calling.”

Getting a Family Business Started

Hispanic business LA-Dorita Latin Business TodayAnd so, a journey began in their home kitchen, the epicenter of their start up business. In their kitchen the recipe was developed, and many calls were made to source ingredients to support their commitment to a natural product.

One of their keLatin Business Today Hispanic businessy ingredients was fresh, non-pasteurized milk. Reaching out to the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) Josephine and Gaston were provided with the names of local farmers to supply the raw milk that would enable them to move ahead with production.

Josephine and Gaston named their product, La Dorita in honor of Josephine’s grandmother.

Now they had a name for their product; PASAs Mia Farber suggested La Dorita become a guest vendor at the local farmers market.

It was at the local farmers market where Josephine met a buyer at Whole Foods. As a result of this meeting, La Dorita would come to be placed on the shelves of Whole Foods in and around Pittsburgh.


Opportunity Leads to Growth For a Small Business

This opportunity to be featured in Whole Foods had a significant impact on production and Josephine and Gaston realized that their home kitchen would need to be expanded and certified as a commercial kitchen.

The couple took out a home equity loan and began another journey of working with their local municipalities, state department of agriculture, food safety and more to establish a standalone commercial kitchen.

By taking the steps to grow their business through investment and expansion the orders for La Dorita soon increased. This meant another change in business strategy as they soon outgrew theHispanic business La-Dorita-Kitchen-A-Community-Kitchen-Share Latin Business Todayir home kitchen space and needed to find a working commercial kitchen to the meet this increased demand.

Working with local realtors several properties were identified, but only one had the bones needed to support a commercial kitchen without having to start from scratch. An old Rotary Club had a working restaurant kitchen. What clinched this location for Josephine was the fact that the interior accents were painted navy La Dorita blue.

Acquisition of this space required some creative, and perhaps unconventional funding. The couple turned to Kickstarter to make the Rotary Club their commercial kitchen. Kickstarter is a crowd funding platform that allows people to seek funding and investment from the public to support and grow a business, product, or idea.

Their larger commercial kitchen brought about another opportunity for themselves and their community. Josephine and Gaston have established a kitchen-sharing program for new start-ups. They have eight registered tenants; a place where these fledgling Hispanic businesses cannot only test and perfect their recipes but also have access to the experiences Josephine and Gaston have had in starting and growing a business. This way of giving back, of helping others get their start continues to re-energize the couple and their vision for La Dorita.

Today the couple continues to work on the business; Josephine in a front of the house role and Gaston working in the kitchen daily and working closely with the local farmers to ensure the highest quality product. Both agree it is not an easy type of life they have chosen. They are passionate and committed to keeping their traditions alive.

As Josephine explains it, Embrace the crazy — the thought of not embarking on this journey to preserve our traditions was worse than not daring to do it.

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