Nuria Santamaria Wolfe knew a thing or two about creating her own path even before striking out on her own. In 2013, she took it upon herself to make Twitter aware that there was growth potential in ad sales that came by pursuing a multicultural strategy, a role she was more than equipped to fill.
“Throughout my career I saw many companies that understood the importance of the Latino consumer but lacked the know-how to properly tap into the opportunity,” explained Santamaria Wolfe. “I pitched the idea of a role to advise the sales team on strategy as the Head of Multicultural Strategy and my expertise in the industry and passion for social media was the right fit to execute against my proposed vision.”
Bringing a role from ideation to implementation is now her bread and butter, as the CEO and co-founder of Encantos Media Studios, a media company dedicated to creating accessible, fun and multicultural content for families. Since its founding in 2015 the media company has been able to successfully launch one of its product lines and strike up partnerships with brands like Burt’s Bees — whose baby boxes they’ll be included in starting this October.
“From the beginning, we wanted Encantos to be purpose-driven,” said Santamaria Wolfe. “We wanted to make media that matters, put creators first and tell stories for kids of all ages inspired by a world of cultures.”
Under the umbrella of Encantos, Santamaria Wolfe and her co-founder, Susie Jaramillo, have created ‘Canticos’ which is their premier Latino baby brand and is made up of physical books and digital activations, all of which are bilingual. Starting October 18th their Canticos brand line will be available at Target stores — noting a big win for the just over one-year-old company.
“Given its focus on early childhood reading and nursery rhymes, Canticos supports early literacy and bilingual education programs and gives back to low-income communities through the donation of books and free apps to kids in need,” said Santamaria Wolfe.
Encantos’ B-corp status emphasizes its triple bottom line and serves as a subtle ode to how Santamaria Wolfe – a Salvadorian who moved to Los Angeles at the age of 3 with her parents — was raised. Her Latinx roots and upbringing reminded her that paying it forward and holding doors open for the community were always to be prioritized.
“Frustrated by the under representation and/or misrepresentation of our community, I was determined to showcase how powerful the Hispanic market is across industries,” explained Santamaria Wolfe.
Nuria Santamaria Wolfe answers questions about what it’s like to jump from corporate to your own company, how important it is to remember your roots and that the only person who can waste your opportunity for greatness is yourself.
Vivian Nunez: You and your team are self-funding Encantos. How did you approach self-funding and what does it actually mean on a day-to-day to self-fund a project?
Nuria Santamaria Wolfe: We were fortunate enough to self-finance our company. We started this company as two families coming together; Susie and I are able to focus on this full time while our husbands make it financially feasible. While this means we are extremely conscious of all expenses, we are also able to grow at the right pace and we have the freedom to build the brands and company in the way we envision.
Nunez: When did you first get the inkling to start Encantos and how did you start to turn that gut feeling into an actual brand?
Santamaria Wolfe: My husband and I had been discussing the idea of starting our own media company to spotlight not only the Latino market, but also other under-represented and misrepresented communities. We want to tell the stories that are not being told.
As fate would have it, an old friend of my husband’s Susie Jaramillo (co-founder and Chief Creative Officer) approached us with an early concept for what would eventually become Canticos. Susie is an incredible creative talent who also shared a similar background to us having worked in advertising for many years. She also shared the same frustration as us – not being able to find diverse stories that were beautifully told, designed and packaged. Susie really wanted to create an umbrella brand for beloved Latino nursery rhymes and songs – think of it as a Latina “Mother Goose.” As a new mom, there was nothing more I wanted to do than to sing to my son, the songs that my mom had sung to me as a child. I could not find any beautiful products that celebrated this part of my heritage. Canticos was the perfect brand to launch Encantos and Susie was the perfect partner for this journey.
Nunez: What kind of milestones did you feel you needed to hit with Encantos/Canticos before you decided it was time to fully dedicate your career to it?
Santamaria Wolfe: Starting a business is very challenging and finding balance is tough. Having a husband as a co-founder, meant I had a partner who was as committed to this as I was and knew how to support me. In addition, my mom moved in with us to help us care for my son. Emotional support from loved ones was key. It truly takes a village.
At the beginning, I was dedicating part of my time to this project, I had a lot of passion for it, but my time was limited. And while we got off to a great start – not only did kids and parents love our books, apps, and videos, but the first Canticos title “Little Chickies / Los Pollitos” received fantastic acclaim from well-respected experts across the publishing industry, with starred reviews from School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews, which also named it one of the Best Books of the Year – I knew that I had to fully commit to make the business a total success. And I am so glad I did as we’ve increased our momentum and have established a partnership with Target to begin carrying our books starting October.
Nunez: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
Santamaria Wolfe: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Instead of complaining about a lack of products showcasing the beauty of our heritage, I set out to build a brand that showcased it and made it accessible across cultures.
Nunez: What advice do you give to a Latina who is looking to start something?
Santamaria Wolfe: Just start! You will never find the perfect time. Don’t wait for the stars to align. Find a good moment and start to align the stars yourself. You are in control of your destiny. Get started today.
Nunez: What drives every aspect of the brand you’re creating?
Santamaria Wolfe: Mission is at the heart of what we do. Being a B-Corp means we are purpose-driven by design. We know our “why” – To ignite and advance creative thinking in kids everywhere through culture-inspired storytelling and the power of creative play. We need to always maintain our “why” as our North Star and work with storytellers are also purpose-driven.
Nunez: What has been your biggest lesson learned so far while growing Encantos?
Santamaria Wolfe: My biggest lesson learned has been: focus on solving a problem that you know well. With Canticos, I’m focusing on a market I know well, not only as a professional but also as a consumer. Not only does this make me qualified to build it but also makes me passionate to see it succeed.