Like millions of other Americans with autoimmune disorders, Veronica Garza’s physical and mental wellbeing necessitated a drastic shift away from many staple foods of the modern American diet. She’s no stranger to the discomfort and disappointment of eating an uninspired lettuce wrap amidst a table full of others feasting away on her former favorite dishes. But in an act of love and solidarity ingrained in their tight-knit family, Veronica’s parents and four siblings decided to adopt her new diet alongside her.
Coming from a long line of Mexican heritage, the Garza family lamented the absence of one item above all else: homemade tortillas.
“That’s the scene when I think of my grandmother. Of being a little girl standing on a chair helping her roll out the dough. The smell of fresh cooked tortillas, there’s nothing like it.”
Veronica began experimenting with alternative nutrient-rich ingredients and soon was producing grain-free tortillas and tortilla chips of a quality rivaling and even surpassing the ‘real’ things. The entire family recognized the need to share their authentic, healthy product. Together, the seven of them founded “Siete Foods,” which, in addition to chips and tortillas, now distributes queso, hot sauce, taco shells, and seasonings to over 12,000 stores across the nation.
Co-Founder & CEO Miguel, the youngest of the siblings, says working with the family is a huge blessing.
“Not a day goes by we don’t see each other. We have inherent trust in one another that’s only possible in a family setting.”
Miguel recognizes the Texan spirit of independence in all of his familial coworkers—each of whom contribute their unique skills and expertise—but he cites one of their guiding mottos as the true key to their success, “Juntos es mejor. Together is better. And I think the same is true for Texas as a whole.”
- In what ways does Texas influence you, your career, or your story?
Veronica: My upbringing as a Texan has played a huge part in my career and life story. My culture was very much influenced by the fact that I am a Mexican American who grew up in the border town of Laredo, Texas. Food has always been an important part of my culture. Whether at family dinners of tacos or quesadillas or gathering in friend’s backyards for a carne asada, tortillas, in particular, were always a staple in my life. After dealing with multiple autoimmune issues for many years, I changed my diet to remove grains in 2009, and I could no longer partake in many of the foods I loved, including tortillas. Understanding the importance of community and support, my whole family changed their diet with me, and we were all left without tortillas for a time. After too many lettuce-wrapped fajita “tacos” I decided to try to recreate a tortilla using grain-free, nutrient-dense ingredients. From this void, the almond flour tortilla was created, and years later our family business of Siete Family Foods was born.
Miguel: Growing up in Laredo, Texas and then heading to school in Austin, Texas really made me proud to be Mexican American. I grew up bleeding burnt orange (Hook ’Em!), and celebrating the weekend with carne asadas surrounded by friends and family. I’m shaped by the uniqueness of the Texas community.
- How does an “independent spirit” play a role in your success?
Veronica: My definition of “independent spirit” means that I am willing to think outside the box, take risks, and do things differently. Creating an almond flour tortilla to solve a problem for myself, my family, and others and then continuing to create other products and a better-for-you, Mexican American food brand is something nobody has done before. I don’t believe having an independent spirit means that one must do these things independently, and without help from others. If that’s the definition, I don’t qualify to be in this magazine. I’m doing what I’m doing today because I did it with others and that is part of our success.
Miguel: I think you have to think a little differently–independently–in order to start a business. You have to see a problem and think it’s worth solving.
- If you had an “Independent Spirit” motto what would that be?
Veronica: At Siete, we always say “Juntos es Mejor,” together is better. It’s not necessarily a motto of independence, but it’s a motto that has strengthened and supported us and inspired us to always be thoughtful and considerate of others in our innovation. Ultimately, I think it’s what sets us apart.
Miguel: Oddly, it’d be “Juntos es Mejor.” Having an independent spirit is important, but carrying that spirit with a group of people is what will really change the world. Together is Better!
- What is your advice to young Texans who may look up to you?
Veronica: Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to lean on others to help you get to where you want to go. All of your successes will be more fulfilling if you achieve them with others, and especially if they involve helping others.
Miguel: Work hard, live well, and do everything with love. Have a team-first attitude, show up with your best self, and lift others up.