In honor of Pride Month, we are celebrating LGBTQ+, Latinx-owned businesses in San Francisco. If you’re interested in a delicious rainbow alfajor, a beautiful fashion piece, or making art with other Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), we encourage you to explore these businesses.
Alfajores Narciso is a Peruvian bakery established in 2012 by Patricia Narciso. Narciso was born and raised in Peru. Her passion for creating sweet treats began at a young age, influenced by the baking shown on TV and her mother, who sold caramel apples and other desserts.
After finishing school at 17 years old, Narciso took a baking class. To sell her sweet creations, she briefly opened a small sweet shop. When the sweet shop didn’t work out, Narciso left Peru. She arrived in the United States in 2001 to pursue her dream and open a business. Narciso shared that part of her decision to leave Peru was because of her economic problems and her sexual orientation of being a lesbian. Arriving in San Francisco, she was welcomed by business-owning family members living in the city.
Narciso worked to support herself, and after 11 years, she began to forget her love and talent for baking until her cousin asked her to prepare a dessert. Narciso baked an alfajor which is a traditional Peruvian cookie filled with dulce de leche. After tasting the dessert, her cousin praised and encouraged her to sell her baked goods, even providing Narciso with a name for the business: Alfajores Narciso.
When she first began selling her desserts, Narciso continued working other jobs. It wasn’t until she took a small business class five years ago that she fully dedicated herself to her craft. Since then, Alfajores Narciso transitioned from selling only alfajores to selling empanadas and other baked goods. Today, the business is flourishing. Currently, Alfajores Narciso is run through a website, but Narciso dreams of opening a physical location to sell her sweet treats.
Alfajores Narciso is special due to its incorporation of unique flavors. They sell alfajores flavored with Nutella and ground coffee, some with ube jam, and some with mango and coconut. One of Narciso’s most celebrated alfajores features the LGBTQ+ flag on the outside.
“This alfajor was inspired by conversations with friends who were also a part of the LGBTQ+ community,” she told El Tecolote. Narciso created this alfajor as a way to show her pride in her identity and its creation further recognized her as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Being a queer, Latina business owner isn’t easy. Oftentimes, Narciso faces mistreatment by others.
“It impedes the progression of my business. If I let everything bother me, then I will never be able to grow,” Narciso said. “The work isn’t easy, but if you insist and persist, you can do many things.”
She explained that even if the product isn’t always successful, that shouldn’t be a reason one gives up on their dreams. “If there is an obstacle, one should keep going because people grow from obstacles and mistakes.”
Just like Alfajores Narciso, Sui Generis — a designer consignment store located in the Castro District of San Francisco — has worked hard to create the business they have today. Owned by husbands Miguel Lopez and Gabriel Yanez, the store was established in 2006.
As a child in Michoacan, Lopez’s interest in fashion was sparked by his grandmother, who had immigrated to Los Angeles to sell clothes outside of factories to support her family. Through her travels back to Mexico, Lopez’s love for fashion grew. He went to college for an engineering degree and took a sabbatical to instead open his first store in Morelia, Michoacan — dedicated to fashion — with the help of his father. Yanez also came from a family where fashion was important. His family had established a presence in markets in Guadalajara, where they would sell clothing.
When Yanez and Lopez met, their mutual love of fashion spurred them to begin selling at the same market as Yanez’s family. A year later, they opened their first store in Guadalajara, and another store a year and a half later.
Their business began to flourish, gaining much popularity, so much so that they even sold clothing to celebrities like Alejandra Guzman and Maná. In 1997, Lopez and Yanez took a summer vacation to celebrate Pride in San Francisco for the first time. The following year they returned and eventually, in 1999, they decided to move to the city.
In Mexico, being a part of the LGBTQ+ community was often looked down upon, whereas in San Francisco, their identities were celebrated. They decided that their businesses in Mexico had reached their maximum potential, so they made the move to San Francisco.
“We thought it would be easy because we had a name in Mexico, but nobody here knew us,” Lopez shared with El Tecolote. Having sold everything for the move to San Francisco, and not speaking English, they had to start from scratch.
When they first arrived, they both worked in the service industry for a year and a half, learning English and networking. Eventually, Lopez applied to work at Max Mara, a designer clothing brand, where he moved up the ranks and was eventually invited to work at Ralph Lauren, another designer brand.
He worked there for 9 years and before he quit, Lopez and Yanez opened Sui Generis. Sui Generis is a term in Latin meaning unique.
“Although everyone is different, Fashion connects everyone,” Lopez said.
In 2006, the store opened on Church Street selling mostly 70s and 80s plaid vintage shirts. In 2008, they moved to Market Street, where they shifted to consignment.
“We opened the store with 8 other people who donated 50-100 pieces, and from there, we were able to become a consignment shop,” Lopez said.
Currently, the store is still located on Market Street and Lopez credits its success to the LGBTQ+ community. “It’s a cycle, people buy new designer pieces and need to sell their old items to buy new ones. It is also environmentally friendly,” Lopez said.
The store has become an institution in the Castro and has even been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, and other publications, as one of the best consignment stores in the US.
“Having a goal and an idea of what you want is super helpful. Although it might be a long process, achieving small goals can help you approach your main goal,” Lopez advised to young entrepreneurs. He also advised reaching out for help from different established organizations is helpful.
Lopez also pointed out that although Sui Generis has existed for years in the Castro, many are not aware that the store is owned by two queer Latinos. He expressed pride in his Latino roots.
“it is nice to be a representation for Latines and queer Latines in the city, showing people how we can achieve their goals.”
Different from Alfajores Narciso and Sui Generis, Naomi Fierro Peña, creator of That Art Party, was born and raised in San Francisco in the Mission/Excelsior district.
Fierro Peña describes That Art Party as an art and play experience for Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) adults as a way and as a means towards our collective liberation. She believes through joy, we can heal.
In 2022, while working at a school, Naomi Fierro Peña connected with an executive coach, Dr. Jax Black, through a fellowship program for people of color in education called the Surge Institute. When speaking with her coach for the first time, Fierro Peña was asked, who would you have become if struggle never entered your heart?
In response, her mind jumped to dance and how it made her feel. From that first meeting, the idea of what her business would eventually become was formed. Fierro Peña asked herself, “What if we, as BIPOC adults, allowed ourselves to just play and try new art mediums without needing to feel perfect?”
Throughout her schooling, her parents continuously placed her in private Catholic schools. Fierro Peña described her experience as constantly being othered and exoticized by the white middle class.
“I was hyper-visible but at the same time very isolated, because my experiences were not white middle-class experiences. And that shaped a lot of who I am today,” Fierro Peña told El Tecolote.
As she grew, she often gravitated towards working with young people, creating affinity spaces and safe spaces based on race, culture, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Fierro Peña shared that her last job at a private school shifted her mindset.
“I got to witness young people play and make art. It’s a luxury. At all the public schools I taught at, the arts were the first thing that got cut.” Fierro Peña believes everyone, regardless of their identity and age should have the privilege of playing and making art.
Currently, Fierro Peña partners with local artists who often donate their time to help create spaces for BIPOC adults to create art. She was heavily influenced by her community in the Mission and the people that surrounded her.
“I have been surrounded by artists of color my entire life. And what has always bothered me is that we have artists in our community, creating beautiful, meaningful, moving works of art, and oftentimes they’re not recognized or oftentimes overlooked [by] white artists who will take and build off of our practices,” she said.
When reflecting on advice she would give to queer Latine entrepreneurs, Fierro Peña described drawing on ancestral stories for power. She expressed how hustling, creativity, and innovation are in our bloodline, drawn from those who immigrated to this country to often provide a better life for their future descendants. That Art Party is continuing to grow, and as time passes, Fierro Peña looks towards a future of involving more BIPOC artists and eventually finding a permanent location in which to settle.
Please visit and support these local businesses!
2231 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114
That Art Party https://www.thatartparty.com/