What were you doing for work before you started building this venture?
I was an account manager in sales at Nestlé. I was the liaison between Nestlé and our retailers, so I was managing beverage, which included brands like NesQuik, and frozen, which included diGiorno, California Pizza Kitchen, Dreyers, and Haagen-Dazs, so big brands. I moved around in a lot of different positions. I got to work in management and managed a team of 11 sales representatives. I was responsible for a $10 million business. I had it made and was so comfortable in my job.
I started making six figures early on and the work was not so hard. By that time I was already working from home, my company paid for my car, my phone bill, my gas, my internet. I felt like I had a sugar daddy who I was addicted to and had me so accustomed to that life. When I got the position initially, I thought it seemed like fun. But I never realized that it was going to prepare me for having my own product that I would one day want to launch into retail. All the same buyers that I was interacting with then are the same ones that I’ve been interacting with now as a business owner. It’s the same game, and I literally got to learn it while at the world’s largest food company.
When did you know you had to leave your job behind?
I did not plan on quitting my job so early. I had been doing Rizos casually on the side for four years and I thought I was going to continue balancing [my job and my business] for at least a year or two. But from the moment we launched I lasted maybe two months and then I put my two weeks notice in. I’ve always been a planner and like to stick to my schedule, but as soon as I made my business go live, from the very first day it’s been non-stop and all of my plans went out the window.
I had to learn to not be so controlling and go with the flow. A big lesson for me was getting used to being uncomfortable. I went from being so comfortable, making great money, having all of these benefits and things to then going into a very unstable place. I realized how much bigger it was than me and that my brand was a movement. Latinas had been left out of the curly conversation for so long and, for them, seeing someone who looked like them and came from where they came from representing and creating something that was catered to them, it was mind-blowing for so many of these women.
Letting go of a steady paycheck is terrifying for most people, how did you deal with the uncertainty?
Even though I had customers, I didn’t take a penny from Rizos for two years. Until very recently, I was living off of my savings. Even if you have a business that’s bringing in money, it’s important to understand that, if you want to build a long-term, sustainable business you can’t get excited about short-term money. You have to look at every single penny that is coming in as how you can use it to build your business. For me, any business that you see that’s growing, it’s because they’re not getting excited about that money coming in and relying on that business—that’s still a baby—to feed them. So I made a decision not to take any money until my business could stand up on its own.