Latino businesses enable quinceañeras in Charlotte NC

Central Avenue, the center of our global community

In the corner of the dress shop, Daniela Robledo is spinning, making the sequins and stones on her lilac dress shine.

“Oh my God! You look beautiful,” says the customer who was watching.

The 15-year-old smiles shyly.

Daniela first found her quinceañera dress six months ago. She returned this day in May for her last change. Later in the evening, her family will gather together with a dozen of Daniela’s relatives from Mexico and California. Everyone will sleep in her family house with two bedrooms – on the floor, on makeshift beds, and even in the bathtub.

And tomorrow everyone will watch Daniela become a woman.

For 15 years, many young Latino women have been celebrating quinceañeras, a rite that symbolizes the transition between virginity and femininity. Many, including Daniel, consider it one of the most important days of their lives.

And in Charlotte there is a 750-foot stretch along Central Avenue where you can get everything you need for this special occasion.

Young women can arrange their hair in Yolanda’s salon, before going to Yolanda’s Creations – a different Yolanda – to try on dresses, tiaras, jewelry and shoes. Nearby is a florist who loves to help design unique floral creations for quinceañeras, and a short walk away is Manolo’s Bakery, the staple food in the eastern Charlotte community for cakes and pan dulce.

Although Daniela turned 15 in January, she waited long enough to host her quinceañera so she could wear a short-sleeved dress – and so her mother, whose birthday is the last week of April, was also able to throw a party.

After all, a few months is nothing compared to 15 years of patience.

Daniela remembers watching the videos of the great quinceañeras on YouTube as a little girl, dreaming of a day when she would be able to have her own.

“These girls would have their quinceañera and it would always be so nice to wear a big puffy dress and feel like a princess for a day,” she said.

Daniela Robledo smiles at the fit of her quinceañera dress at Yolandas Creations on Central Avenue in Charlotte. Robledo spent her youth watching shows about young Latino women who have their quinceañera and dream of their own. As she approached her sixteenth birthday, her parents asked her if she would like a car or a quinceañera, she chose the latter. Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez [email protected]

“When I was little, I thought it was just a big party and a big puffy dress … but (it’s) also the significance of different things.

“We are entering femininity.”

Daniela reserved, chose decorations and decided on topics in an expensive, months-long planning process.

Many young women choose to have their father give them their last gift, usually a doll or teddy bear, during their quinceañere – a kind of “last” gift from childhood.

Danijela’s younger cousin, Angelina Trochez, gives her a teddy bear instead.

“This is how we are,” says Daniela, raising her intertwined fingers to show how close they are.

She then digs into her pockets to find remote controls that control the lights on her dress. She clicks them, and dress store owner Yolanda Sanchez turns on the lights.

Daniela shines.

Sister duo

Young women come to Yolanda Sanchez to find the quinceañera of the dream dress of more than a decade.

Sanchez’s family had a job in her country, Mexico, and she enjoyed the experience of working without a boss enough to open a store in Charlotte.

Yolanda’s Creations has all the basic things for a quinceañera – jewelry, shoes, dolls, teddy bears, dresses, tiaras – and even sells wedding dresses and first communion kits. Sanchez said there are less than 10 stores like her in Charlotte.

And because of the growing Latino community, the demand is constant. Sanchez sells about 30 quinceañera dresses each month.

Quinceanera dresses up at Yolanda’s Creations in Charlotte. Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez [email protected]

Daniela came to Sanchez’s shop because all her friends went there.

Sanchez loves to see the delight on customers ’faces when they find the perfect dress. She remembers the expression on Daniel’s face when she found her lavender dress, instead of the pink gold she had originally been looking for.

“This is a very good moment,” she said. “In the mirror, [when] they say, ‘Wow, this is my dress.’ That’s what I want.

“That’s good for me.”

And after helping his customers choose complementary supplements, he sends them to the neighborhood – to his sister’s flower shop.

Ma Rosario Evans worked at Sanchez’s shop, making artificial flower arrangements, but opened her own shop, Sweet Pea’s Floral and Gifts, about a year ago after realizing the need for a Spanish flower shop.

Since then, she has attended classes and built her business “little by little”, she said.

Evans shines with pride as she flips through photos of past arrangements on her iPad – at weddings, birthdays and other events, including quinceañere.

As for working next to her sister, Evans couldn’t be more pleased.

“I’m super close to her,” she said. “I’m so happy to do this.”

Yolanda salon

With four adult daughters, Yolanda Garcia knows how to handle a quinceañera.

In her own quinceañera in the city of Guatemala a few decades ago, she remembers styling her hair herself. Now, “another Yolanda” in the square worries that young women in Charlotte don’t have to do the same.

Hairdresser Raquel Romero said she sees 10 to 20 quince clients every month.

For some of them, this is the first time they have put on make-up and hair. That’s why Romero takes his job so seriously.

“When they come here, they don’t have … make-up, they don’t have … hair [done]”she said.” You change them from girls to something amazing. “

She said some clients come up with ideas picked up from the internet, while others let Romero lead the way. And when she turns her chair to face the mirror, Romero sees their faces glow.

“It’s a satisfaction for us,” she said.

Manolo Betancur

Manolo Betancur feels like he has followed his clients at all stages of life – including, in some cases, quinceañeras.

The owner of Manolo’s Bakery started working there in 2005, before buying half of the business in 2011 and becoming the sole owner in 2018.

“This is our 25th anniversary. “We have seen some people in families from childhood to adulthood,” he said. “We have customers who have been with us for so long, now their children have grown up and have grandchildren.”

Manolo Betancur is the owner of Manolo’s Bakery in Charlotte. Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez [email protected]

Stepping through the door, customers are greeted by a bakery pan dulce of choice — with treats such as churros, orejas and bunuelos. as well as delicacies from Betanzur’s homeland, Colombia.

He is proud of his roots, and this can be seen throughout the bakery. “Made in America, by immigrant hands,” reads a sticker on the cash register.

“We are a party community,” Betancur said. “We always find a way to celebrate with friends, to have fun, to smile, to smile.”

And almost every weekend, Betancur and its employees celebrate young Latino women at quinceañeras across the city.

In April and May, the bakery receives a dozen orders for quinceañera cakes – which are often complex, multi-layered centerpieces that cost hundreds of dollars.

“I wish we had 10 quince cakes every weekend because they are very well paid,” Betancur said, laughing.

But one cake from a quinceañera that Betancur disagrees about making his daughter in a few years. She is 10 years old, but she has already started planning.

“Right now I see my daughter changing and becoming this beautiful butterfly,” he said. “I’ll cry like crazy that day.”

Victor Zelaya, a baker or ‘pastelero’, at Manolo’s Bakery decorates a custom-made cake for his sixteenth birthday on Tuesday, June 17, 2022 in Charlotte, NC. Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez [email protected]

After visiting all these stores: Quinceañera

The pebbles on Daniela’s tiara sparkled under the spotlights as she entered the room.

“I was very nervous as I entered,” she said. “I actually forgot to light a dress made of nerves. But as soon as I walked in, I just focused on remembering the steps, I forgot about everything and started running. ”

Several hundred friends and family applauded as she took her place in the center, and the celebration began with a parade of gifts.

Finally, her little cousin with the bear approached her, dressed in appropriate shoes and a dress, all the way to the cloak.

Daniela thanked her and posed with the bear for the camera, while eight-year-old Trochez watched her with big eyes and a smile, thinking about the future.

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