Southside Makers & Shakers: Emilie Herrera

San Antonio’s Southside is home to a very special community of creators, hard workers, and people that inspire—many of whom are leaders across the Alamo city. Our Southside Makers and Shakers blog series celebrates Southsiders making their mark. Each addition to the series offers new insight into the community and the gente that make the Southside so unique.

In this blog, we interview the Co-founder/Owner of Folklores Coffee House, Emilie Herrera.

Co-founder/Owner of Folklores Coffee House, Emilie Herrera

Tell us about yourself.

As the Co-founder/Owner of Folklores Coffee House, I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved in our community on the Southside of San Antonio. Since opening our doors five years ago, we’ve been more than just a coffee shop; we’ve become a hub of community engagement and support. Our efforts range from hosting free workshops to organizing food distribution drives for the elderly, along with housing seminars, yoga classes, supporting local nonprofits, and mentoring fellow business owners.

I am particularly honored by the recognitions we’ve received for our work. Being awarded the Proclamation of Texas for our efforts in feeding the elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic was a humbling acknowledgment of our commitment to the community in trying times. Additionally, winning the Braun Paper Towel award for our community assistance further highlighted our impactful role in the neighborhood.

At Folklores Coffee House, our mission extends beyond serving great coffee. It’s about fostering community solidarity, empowerment, and making a tangible difference in people’s lives. These accolades are not just awards; they are reminders of the positive impact we can have when we put community at the heart of our business. I am excited for the future and committed to continuing our work in making a meaningful difference in the lives of those around us.

Decadent lattes with marshmallows on top

What inspired you to become a leader on San Antonio’s Southside, and what keeps you motivated to continue your work?

My journey to becoming a leader, educator, and business owner is deeply rooted in my own history growing up in Southside. After my mother passed when I was three, my retired grandmother had to return to the workforce to support me while grappling with our profound loss. Seeing her struggles made me keenly aware of the importance of having a strong community around you.

The memory of my grandmother’s struggles fuels my passion. It grounds me and focuses me to positively impact the lives of others in my community.

Folkores is not just a business for us, it is a space that offers the support and opportunities that I didn’t have during my formative years. Every workshop, mentorship, and community event we organize at Folklores Coffee House is a way to help our community.

In business, they often talk about ‘finding your why’. My ‘why’ is clear –  to provide the guidance and opportunities for those who, like my younger self, are in dire need of them. This understanding not only guides my business decisions but also keeps me passionately engaged in the ongoing work of community building and empowerment.

Emilie Herrera and community pose for a photo

How does your organization give back to San Antonio, foster collaboration, or build partnerships with other organizations?

As the leader of our organization, I am committed to making a meaningful impact in the San Antonio community. We partner with various local organizations, offering free classes on homeownership, financial freedom, and mental health. Additionally, our space serves as a drop-off center for non-profits, and we provide small business classes and free art space to support and enrich our community.

Beyond our organizational efforts, my personal involvement in various community and leadership groups is pivotal. I am part of the Latina Leadership Institute, which keeps me informed about the changing political climate and its impact on underserved areas. This involvement helps me stay responsive to our community’s needs.

Furthermore, I hold the position of Director of Fundraising for Poderosa Rising, a non-profit organization focused on empowerment and support. I am also an assistant membership board member of the Hispanic Network Women Texas. These roles enable me to advocate for change, ensuring that our business remains a potent force for positive community impact.

My active engagement in these organizations allows me to bring back valuable insights and resources to our work. This strategic involvement ensures that we continue to be a catalyst for positive change and make a meaningful difference in the lives of those we serve in San Antonio.

Looking to the future, what initiatives or projects are you most excited about, and how do you believe they will benefit our city and its residents?

Looking towards the future, I am filled with a sense of excitement and optimism for the initiatives and projects that are set to transform the Southside. My philosophy has always been about the beautification, not gentrification, of our community. The distinction is crucial – while we welcome growth and development, it is vital that these changes enhance and complement the rich history and culture that define the Southside.

The introduction of new businesses, hospitals, and housing developments is a thrilling prospect. These additions are not just physical structures; they represent opportunities for better healthcare, enhanced living standards, and economic growth. The arrival of esteemed colleges and universities is particularly promising. Education is a powerful tool for empowerment, and having these institutions in our backyard means greater access to learning and personal development for our residents.

Another exciting aspect is the potential for employment growth. This expansion means more jobs, more opportunities, and a stronger economy. It’s a chance for our community to flourish, for our residents to find meaningful work close to home, and for our youth to envision a bright future right here in the Southside. And an opportunity for  creating a balanced ecosystem where local businesses can thrive alongside larger companies. Our small businesses are the heartbeat of the Southside, embodying our history, culture, and community spirit. As we evolve, it is crucial that these businesses remain integral to the narrative of progress.

In this journey of growth, we are not erasing our history; we are elevating it. We are creating a future that respects and celebrates our past. This balanced approach to development promises to bring a new era of prosperity to the Southside, benefiting both the city and its residents. It’s about building a future that honors our roots, supports our community, and uplifts every resident of the Southside.

What makes Southside San Antonio unique compared to other parts of the city?

The Southside of San Antonio is more than just a geographical area; it’s a vibrant tapestry woven with the threads of community, solidarity, and rich cultural heritage. What truly sets it apart is the spirit of its people – a close-knit, resilient community that stands together through thick and thin. In the Southside, you don’t just live in a neighborhood; you become part of a family.

There’s an undeniable warmth and authenticity in the Southside. It’s in the welcoming smiles at Mendez Cafe as you sit down for breakfast, in the familiar greetings at Don Pedro during dinner. These aren’t just places to eat; they are gathering spots where memories are made, where stories are shared, where the bonds of community are strengthened.

In the Southside, we understand the value of rallying together, of supporting one another. It’s a place where neighbors aren’t just people living next door; they’re the ones who celebrate your joys and stand by you in your struggles. This unity, this sense of belonging, is rare and deeply cherished.

Our community is a beautiful mosaic of people and memories, each adding color and texture to the rich tapestry of the Southside. We carry a legacy of resilience and a deep sense of pride in our roots. And with this comes a fierce determination to ensure that we are not overlooked or forgotten. We deserve a seat at the table when decisions are made, changes are proposed, and futures are planned. Our voices, steeped in the love and loyalty of our community, are crucial in shaping a future that honors the unique spirit of the Southside.

The Southside isn’t just a part of San Antonio; it’s a heartbeat, a soulful melody that plays the tune of togetherness, resilience, and undying community spirit. It’s a place where every street, every corner, every smile tells a story of unity and familial bond. This isn’t just where we live; it’s who we are.

Decadent iced lattes with caramel

Where can folks find Folklores Coffee House?

Visit at 1947 N New Braunfels Ave, San Antonio, TX 78208 or follow on Facebook and Instagram.

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