Start DC

Issue #10: Fall, Is That You?

Fall Autumn GIF

A Note from the Founder


We’re all ramping up for the fall (even those of us who worked their ways straight through the summer!), so we’ll keep it to the short and point.

Just a quick aside that I am writing from Romania (hello!) on a solo trek through Eastern Europe. Occasional solo travel is something I started at a young age, and it took this trip to remember how much I appreciate it. Travel makes me feel more balanced, and it taps my self-reliance and curiosity. However you find it, I wish this for all of youthose moments to find balance as an entrepreneur and, most importantly, as a person.

GennaFounder @ Start DC


Community Feature: Joahna Hernandez, founder @ Manos de Maiz

Start DC: Tell us about your business in two sentences. 
Joahna Hernandez: Manos de Maiz started three years ago and it’s always been about the corn. When I moved to DC, there was nowhere to find a good tortilla. Over time, people started doing tacos here but not the other street food that I had in Mexico City. So I realized there was an opportunity. Manos de Maiz makes maizopes (my take on a sope), masa (the prepared cornmeal base for tortillas), and other Mexican products using organic corn.
SD: Who or what inspires you?
JH: My grandma’s and my mom’s cooking! And the street vendors in Mexico. They live outside the city and wake up early to commute in to sell food. I’m also inspired by the people who work the land.SD: What’s your top lesson learned since starting your own business?

JH: We work a lot in farmer’s markets, so adapting to high-volume markets while still using locally-sourced, organic materials has been a balance. We tried five markets at first and found it was better to be only in the three busiest. This is because the nature of our business is labor intensive, so high sales volumes are required in order to make it profitable.It’s also been good to diversify. In addition to selling maizopes, we added two new products to our menu this year: kekas (Mexico City-style quesadillas) and handmade, fresh corn tortillas that are available by the dozen.

You can find Manos de Maiz at the following farmer’s markets: White House (Thursdays), USDA (Fridays), and Mt. Pleasant (Saturdays).

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