FROM BOGOTA TO PHOENIX
Angelica Urrego is the creator of ArepaBabe, a pop-up business created in September 2020 while visiting her friends in San Diego, CA, but launched in December 2020. This pop-up brings Colombian street foods to the hungry and curious bellies of Phoenix, Arizona.
Angelica is driven by her mission to create a space for a cultural experience, food and fun centered on the traditional flavors of Colombia. In doing so, ArepaBabe is the main ambassador of Colombian sabrosura in Southwest desert.
Angelica is a native of Bogotá. This concrete jungle nestled in a valley of the Andean mountain range in Colombia inspires her. Angelica’s family raised her to value the spaces, flavors, and culture that represents tradition (specially the street foods). Yes, grew up eating a lot of street foods.
But the journey to creating ArepaBabe is one of introspection, healing and reconnection. After some personal situations she was facing, the urge to seek help to reconnect with her roots was the reason to start this journey in the kitchen. Angelica realized she had wounds that hadn’t healed, but also she felt her identity was weakened by the cultural shock of being an immigrant and trying to adapt herself to the American culture. A local healer -Kitchen Curandera- recommended she reconnect to her roots through cooking. She gave it a try. At the chopping board, on the steamy stovetop, and fingers deep in ground corn, Angelica found a place of authenticity in the kitchen (please read this linked article where Kitchen Curandera mentioned her work with Angelica).
The taste of this food made with tradition and intention gave her strength and a sense of identity she had lost as an immigrant trying to adapt to the US. In this space, Angelica perfected the arepa - made from pure ground corn and a combination of cheeses- that is now the staple of her business. In Phoenix, Angelica is known among her friends as a giver, often hosting gatherings where she shared traditional foods of Colombia. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to those gatherings.
In the spring of 2020, Angelica found herself stranded for three months in Bogotá, unable to return to the US when Colombia’s government closed down its international borders. What was supposed to be a quick birthday trip ended up becoming a three-month internship at her mom’s, Rocio, kitchen. In that time, Angelica honed in on her mother's cooking techniques, like the magic caldo (broth) and traditional stews. In the fall, ArepaBabe was launched. The first pop-up were held at Stoop Kid inside of The Churchill in Downtown. Where someone found out that there were arepas from Bogota in Downtown Phoenix and wrote about it and also made a video about it.
The inception of ArepaBabe has been received enthusiastically by the Phoenix community.
The end of 2020 was fantastic, a lot of work put into this pop-ups, a lot of new knowledge, experiences, people, etc. It was a great year for ArepaBabe.
In January, after being unemployed for months, Angelica found a job with a fantastic family as a nanny. Angelica always wanted to work with children as a teacher, but unfortunately the income offered was too low to be the support of her family back in Colombia and for herself here in the States. She has been in the children's world for about 10 years on and off. This opportunity was key so she could fund her own business. Around this time of the year, the applications for Fuerza Local are open for small and local businesses to be part of their business incubator program and ArepaBabe was selected (last minute since other business dropped out).
For six months, this program helps entrepreneurs to grow their business.
After several months of hard work, savings, and donations, ArepaBabe was finally official and graduated from a Local First organization.
Also, she is well known in the Phoenix area as a community organizer and 'uses her platform to advocate for other local small businesses'.
To be continued...
PURA SABROSURA IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA BROUGHT TO YOU BY ANGELICA URREGO