My Business Plan: Mercado Lula

Mexican-inspired goods and recipes

Mexico’s beautiful and iconic culture is too compelling to ignore. With rich cultural origins and uniquely delightful flavors, Mexican food is a favorite of people from different corners of the world.

If you’re looking for a shop that features Mexican-inspired specialty food products, home goods, and gifts highlighting all the wonderful things you can discover about México, we know the perfect place—Mercado Lula.

Discover a fantastic business journey. Read on.

From a Lifelong Dream to Reality

Due to a twist of fate, Jennifer Parra decided to pursue her dream of becoming an entrepreneur. And guess what? She’s now the owner of Mercado Lula, an online shop that lets people explore the beauty of Mexico outside Mexico.  

“I decided to pursue my lifelong dream of entrepreneurship and started developing a catering concept… Mexican-inspired box lunches for meetings and events. I officially launched Mercado Lula catering towards the end of 2018 and had a full year of business in 2019,” she shares.  

This was her original concept until COVID-19 spread.  

The Pandemic 

“Then everything changed in March 2020 with the shutdowns and end of in-person meetings. So, I put everything into storage and waited until a re-launch made sense,” Jennifer says.  

The pandemic has forever changed how we live and do business.  

But, on a positive note, it has forced businesses to change, pivot, and transform.   

“As the holiday season started to approach that year, I had the idea to pivot and create an e-commerce version of Mercado Lula, an online shop of Mexican-inspired goods,” she adds.   

The Café de Olla Kit (Mexican Coffee Kit) was the first product she created and launched in her online shop. It includes beautiful recipe cards printed by PrintRunner.  

Today, Mercado Lula’s online shop offers a wide range of products, from the best salsas and Mexican chocolate and coffee to delicious snacks and pantry staples. And it continues to grow.  

Mercado Lula’s Online Shop  

Mercado Lula sells carefully curated artisan food products, kitchenware, home goods, personal care products, cookbooks, and specialty items made locally and in México.  

According to Jennifer, “our goal is to celebrate the beauty of México as told through people of Mexican heritage. We are a Latin and female-owned small business based in Oakland, California.”  

Some of Mercado Lula’s top sellers include Josefa Cajeta (goat’s milk caramel), Bolita Salsa Macha (chile oil made with nuts, dried chiles, and sesame seeds), Hernán Mole Poblano (a paste for making a complex traditional sauce), and Cultura Mexican Drinking Chocolate.  

“All created with love by makers of Mexican heritage who have decided to focus on specific products out of affection for their own connection with those particular items,” she says. 

On its blog, the online shop shares Mexican-inspired recipes and much more!  

The Hallmark 

Mercado Lula focuses solely on producing high-quality Mexican-inspired goods and curated items that are not easily found in your local supermarket.  

The store also creates charming gift sets with stunning packaging, perfect for anyone who loves Mexican cuisine and culture. 

Being a Solopreneur 

Jennifer Parra runs Mercado Lula alone. “This biggest challenge has always been being a ‘solopreneur,’ meaning I’ve mostly operated my business solo and have learned how to wear many hats,” she says. 

“The challenges of running and building a catering business are drastically different from running an e-commerce business,” she adds.  

This year, she commits to taking part in pop-up shops throughout the West Coast so her customers can experience what Mercado Lula has to offer. 

She’s also building a recipe blog to share ideas on using her products, which is a great way to entice potential customers to visit the Mercado Lula website.  

A solo and woman business owner, Jennifer can work well under pressure. She has learned to anticipate store events or busy seasons.

“When preparing for pop-ups, I map out how the set-up will go and I visualize how everything will flow on the day of the pop-up. I’m also a list maker so I’ll likely have several lists going at once to make sure nothing slips through the cracks,” she mentions. 

Words to Aspiring Entrepreneurs 

“Entrepreneurship can be a long, sometimes lonely, journey,” Jennifer says.  

The best strategy she can share is to make as many genuine connections within your industry as possible. You never know how someone might be able to help move your business forward. 

She believes that “the world of small businesses and entrepreneurship is one big collective effort and the more we help each other, the further we move forward as a whole.” 

Also, “look for opportunities in unexpected places,” she adds.  

Importance of Custom Packaging  

Speaking from experience, Jennifer shares, “PrintRunner has allowed me to create attractive and unique packaging and marketing materials that have definitely set Mercado Lula apart.” 

Custom packaging has many benefits. It not only properly protects your products, but it also builds brand awareness while improving your customer’s experience.  

“I love PrintRunner! Since 2018, I have printed everything from menu postcards, a vinyl banner, sticker labels, recipe cards, and flyers with PrintRunner and they continue to exceed my expectations in quality and speedy turnaround,” Jennifer says. 

 

Visit mercadolula.com to explore more of México, its products, and its gastronomy. 

Use the promo code PRINT to enjoy 20% off when you checkout! 

Follow Mercado Lula on Instagram and Facebook to find out where their shop might pop up next.

 

How has PrintRunner helped you and your business? 

Send your story to community@printrunner.com. 

About the Author

Christine Guevarra
Christine is a copy and digital writer who loves going to places and trying out new foods. During her spare time, she would play with and take photos/videos of her dog, eat, watch movies and travel blogs, or annoy her siblings. She appreciates spontaneity and new discoveries. If she disappears, you can find her at bookstores, coffee shops, or cinemas.
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