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Local Latinas make a difference in the community one handmade item at a time

Years ago, a few local women were invited to showcase their products in Central Phoenix. The response was great, and it eventually became Mujeres Mercado.

PHOENIX — Gloria Elox created her t-shirt line Gloria with one purpose in mind.

“To inspire women that they’re not just moms, they’re not just wives, they also have dreams and inspirations. So, I want to highlight them, I want to inspire them, motivate them to reach out for their dreams.”

The Arizona native wanted to embrace and celebrate her Mexican heritage.

“I believe our culture needs to be celebrated every single day,” Elox said.

A culture she feels is important for her children to know and love.

“Showing my kids that to be proud of where they come from, were proud Mexicans but were also proud Americans,” she said.

Gloria’s dreams and goals are shared by many Latina entrepreneurs, so much that a movement was started in the Valley.

“A couple of years ago our founder Stephanie Vasquez was talking with a group of friends and they were talking about Latina equal payday about the huge pay gap between women and men doing the same work. So, they wanted to highlight and bring awareness to the community about this issue.”

The movement started by inviting a few local women to showcase their products at Fair Trade Café in Central Phoenix. The response was great, and it eventually became Mujeres Mercado.

“The outcome was beautiful,” Gloria said.

Now in its third year, the mercado welcomes thousands of shoppers to their quarterly event with more than 50 Latina-owned businesses selling everything from artwork, handmade soaps, jewelry, food and more.

“You just feel welcomed, you see the energy and you feel how much work each Latina business owner has put into their work their crafts,” Elox said.

Gloria’s products and the other mujeres merchandise are rich in culture and traditions.

“We have people from Guatemala, Mexico, Salvador we have papusas tamales.”

The mercado offers feel-good energy and fun outing for the family but more importantly for these women, they are making an impact.

“For example, our last mercado brought $12, 888.70 back to our community. Your money spent stays in the community,” Elox said.

Some of the money goes right back to help other Latina entrepreneurs, to make sure their businesses thrive.

“Empowering Latina Leaders of Arizona- E.L.L.A. also supports Latina businesses by providing workshops, we provide scholarships for Latina businesses who want to grow their businesses, we provide mentorship with them,” Elox said.

“The mujeres mercado is not just a mercado, it’s a big familia.”

The next Mujeres Mercado is on October 9th at Osuna Park in Peoria which will be dedicated to director Luisa Leon who recently passed away. 

Head to the market's Instagram account @azmujeresmercado for more information.

Hispanic Heritage Month

We're telling the stories and sharing the experiences of Hispanics and Latinos from across the Valley. See the stories on our 12 News YouTube playlist here.