Thursday, September 6, 2007

Mogulette to launch bookstore in East Harlem

I just love hearing success stories from fellow Mogulettes-in-the-making!

When I first met Aurora Anaya-Cerda at a Latina writer's group at the beginning of this year, I was instantly captivated by her business idea: to launch a bookstore in East Harlem, a predominantly Latino neighborhood in Manhattan which currently doesn't have one but is sorely in need of one. Back then she was still very much in the planning stages of her concept, but aided by a boundless amount of enthusiasm and motivation.

Fast forward a few months to last week, when I caught up with her at an internet marketing class. With a big smile on her face she shared her exciting news: "La Casa Azul", the name she's given the store (it's named after Mexican artist Frida Kahlo's home in Mexico City and it means "blue house") will be launching in the Fall!

Aurora grew up in a place similar to East Harlem (also known as "El Barrio"), an immigrant neighborhood lacking businesses, programs and services that benefit the community, and instead where countless liquor stores, dilapidated buildings, drugs and gangs abound. Her belief is that El Barrio needs a store like La Casa Azul Bookstore - a place of knowledge and culture, where the community can come together to enjoy activities such as author signings, art receptions, educational workshops, not to mention the best organic coffee and Mexican hot chocolate in the neighborhood!

This enterprising "chica" first got the idea of owning a bookstore during her junior year in college. After working at an independent bookstore in California she knew that I one day she'd have to open one of her own. But it wasn't until many years later when she arrived to New York that she was able to reawaken that dream that had been dormant for years! In the Spring of 2006 she came across the East Harlem Business Capital Corporation, a neighborhood organization that helps entrepreneurs, and took the first of many courses on business. These classes served as the catalyst for more opportunities, including access to more resources, advice on financing, leads to support groups (like the Mogulettes!) and the push she needed to move into the world of bookselling.

Two years ago Aurora didn't know the first thing about a business plan but now she has a firm grasp of the whole start-up process. She has an investor who believes in her vision, and is awaiting funding for the remainder of the start up costs. Below is her mission statement and goals:

La Casa Azul will be an independent bookstore/café, offering new and used books in English and Spanish. The store will offer a wide range of books and music from the United States, México, Latin America and the Caribbean. La Casa Azul will also carry Mexican jewelry, art and clothing. Our mission is to provide the community with contemporary bilingual literature, featuring works by Latino authors.

Our goals are:
  • To provide culturally relevant books and events.
  • To heighten community awareness and political consciousness regarding issues that affect East Harlem residents.

For more information about the store's grand opening, email:

About Aurora:
Aurora Anaya-Cerda acquired experience in the daily operations of a bookstore during her employment at two independent bookstores. A graduate of UCLA, Aurora has a double Bachelor’s degree in History and Chicana/o Studies and a minor in Education. She taught middle school for 2 years and had been in the education field for the last 6 years. Since her arrival to New York in July 2005, she has been an active member of the East Harlem community as a participant and supporter of cultural and educational events.

Aurora is definitely on her way to becoming a full-fledged Mogulette, and I'm looking forward to attending her launch party!

If your business has experienced success or reached a highly anticipated milestone, let me know! Your stories inspire all of us, so please share them!!


Alicia Anabel said...

Bravo! This is HUGE! I wish you so much success - this is such a win for the community...


Gaby H. said...

Aurora, I'm so proud of you. You are truly an inspiration to us all. Though you are surely missed in LA, we all know you are accomplishing great things in NYC. I can't wait to see "La Casa Azul Bookstore".

Buena suerte amiga!

Anonymous said...

I wish you the best!You are a example of the great things that latinos are doing for the community.