South of Downtown Austin, nudged in between warehouses and hipster clothing stores, sits Siete Foods — one of the fastest-growing food and beverage companies in the nation.
The multi-million dollar company is behind some of the most innovative, grain-free products on the market.
Co-founder and CEO Miguel Garza said the inspiration behind Siete came after he noticed a lack of Mexican-American representation in stores.
“We didn’t see a brand that was speaking to us being a Mexican-American family, doing what Chobani did in yogurt or what Oatly’s doing in alternative milk. We really do feel this great responsibility to share the beauty of the culture that we grew up living,” Miguel told CBS News’ Mireya Villarreal.
The brand was also born out of necessity after co-founder and president — and Miguel’s big sister — Veronica Garza started to have health struggles.
“I deal with multiple autoimmune issues. One of those conditions is lupus. My older brother, Bob, had suggested a different type of diet that could possibly alleviate a lot of the symptoms and inflammation,” Veronica said. “My whole family started eating this new way with me. We were basically following a paleo diet and eliminating grains. At that point, we were no longer able to eat a lot of the foods that we had grown up eating and loving.”
“Like what?” Villarreal asked.
“Like tortillas,” Veronica responded.
Healthwise, the family felt better, but cutting out gluten made them feel like they also lost something much bigger.
“Tortillas are the centerpiece of the table. You go to any restaurant and it’s chips and salsa, guacamole. These foods that add to the beautiful Mexican culture, they weren’t on the menu for us anymore,” Miguel said.
“We sorta felt like we’re sort of, like, turning our backs on our culture, not being able to participate in this important part,” Veronica added.
“And then it was around that time that we’re at a carne asada and my sister shows up with almond flour tortillas,” Miguel recalled.
Veronica quietly began experimenting with new ingredients and found customers for her product near the family home in Laredo, Texas.
“I had a full-time teaching job and on weekends my mom would get in the kitchen with me, and we would just hand press, like, a ton of tortillas,” Veronica laughed. The family would leave their daily jobs and head straight to the kitchen.
The word siete means seven in Spanish and represents the seven members of the Garza family who started this business more than a decade ago. The family would leave their daily jobs and head straight to the kitchen.
“I started to realize like, ‘Oh man, you know, this product could actually be sold in stores. And if people are buying it on the weekends from you they might buy it at a couple of like natural food stores,'” Miguel said.
Today the company offers over 40 gluten-free products selling in more than 15,000 stores nationwide
“I’m really, really proud. It’s hard for me to even talk about it ’cause I cry all the time. When I see our tortillas in stores, it still makes me cry,” Miguel and Veronica’s mother said.
For the Garza family business, the payoff is discovering the impact they have on families like theirs.
“This ‘You’ve changed my life with this tortilla,’ and I’m like, ‘Really? Like, with a tortilla? You’re exaggerating,’ and but then you would hear it over and over and over again. Be like, okay, maybe this … sorry, I’m getting a little emotional but … yeah, maybe this is possible,” Veronica said.
“It feels good to know that, you know, we can do something that’s affecting people’s lives in a positive way and you know that we’re doing it as a family,” Miguel said.