Latinx Chapter at Northwestern Medicine sponsors pop-up shop for Latinx artisans
Health system partners with Kelly Hall YMCA to celebrate small businesses, community
Maria Rodriguez will never forget how isolated she felt when her daughter Adelyn was four years old. Bath time had become a nightmare for the duo because Adelyn’s skin discomfort from eczema and autism-related sensory issues made her miserable in water. Rodriguez’s own autoimmune disease caused debilitating back pain and attempting to bathe an unwilling child only made things worse.
Then, a desperate attempt to distract Adelyn in the bathtub led to a surprising discovery: bath bombs – spheres of oils and extracts that add a luxurious touch to baths – were the solution Rodriguez had been seeking.
“My business began because I wanted to keep my daughter healthy, but I couldn’t afford to buy bath bombs every time she needed a bath,” Rodriguez, 37, said. “I began making them in my mom’s basement in Pilsen, and then I started making soaps and lotions to address my own skin issues. When I started selling my products, people shared their own stories with me. I realized that so many of us in the Latinx community were suffering in silence, whether it was with health issues or parenting struggles or just anything in life. We have stories that are keeping us apart, when really, they can draw us closer together as a community.”
Rodriguez will join more than 20 other Latinx artisans at the Northwestern Medicine Latinx Mercadito Pop-Up Shop, an event that will feature small Latinx businesses in the community. The event will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Kelly Hall YMCA, 824 N. Hamlin Avenue in Chicago.
When I started selling my products, people shared their own stories with me. I realized that so many of us in the Latinx community were suffering in silence, whether it was with health issues or parenting struggles or just anything in life. We have stories that are keeping us apart, when really, they can draw us closer together as a community.
Anna Galindo, co-vice chair of the Latinx Chapter of the Northwestern Medicine Champion Network, said the Mercadito was created by a team of colleagues who wanted to provide opportunities for small Latinx businesses in Chicago.
“We want to be a bridge from our organization to the communities,” Galindo said. “We’re connected to their care, their jobs, their personal development and their social well-being. We want to be a part of their journey, and Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect time to highlight the beauty of our culture in partnership with Kelly Hall YMCA, which serves the same community members.”
Andre Goode, vice president of community well-being at YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, said the Mercadito will be an opportunity for community members to gather, support local businesses and explore ways to embrace their health journeys at the YMCA.
“We encourage Chicagoans to join us at the event to support these artisans and to celebrate Latinx culture,” Goode said. “Kelly Hall YMCA welcomes and supports everyone who comes through our doors, and the Mercadito will echo that spirit.”
Rodriguez said her small business has done more than provide her family an income – it’s connected her to customers who have become lifelong friends.
“My work has energized me and kept me in my community,” she said. “As a vendor, I am empowered to give my energy to something beyond what I’m experiencing.”
We want to be a bridge from our organization to the communities. We’re connected to their care, their jobs, their personal development and their social well-being.