“We have a three-year-old son. Everything that I do and every decision that I make is in hopes that he’ll be proud. That’s important to us.”-Fany Gerson
HOW FANY GERSON CONTINUES TO SHARE HER “SWEET MEXICO.”
“The last year was about surviving, literally,” said Fany Gerson, owner of La Newyorkina. “Healing, rebuilding, and then finding ways to continue the work that we’re doing.”
Fany started her business after a trip to Mexico, where she was born. Inspired by traditional Mexican frozen sweets and desserts, the experience changed her life. “I wanted to share the sweetness of Mexico’” she said, which inspired the creation of a Mexican ice cream shop with unique flavors and “Paleta,” a quintessential Mexican frozen treat.
2020 was a challenging year for all restaurants, and was particularly so for Fany and her husband. Their business is seasonal, but they could not open for the summer due to COVID. Forced to lay off her employees, she was heartbroken to know that many would likely not qualify for federal aid.
Still, Fany is committed and has learned to adapt. “My dad likes to say that I get ‘married to my ideas,’ which is another way of saying that I’m stubborn. If you want to start a business, my advice is to do something that you’re really passionate about, that you really care about. And also, don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
REBUILDING FROM LOSS
This is not the first challenging year that Fany has navigated. After Hurricane Sandy rocked the east coast in 2012, Fany had to rebuild, having lost everything. It was then that she was introduced to Ascendus, who provided a loan for essential new equipment as well as repairs.
As the summer of 2020 stretched on, and their business remained closed, Fany and her husband were searching for economic help when they discovered the PepsiCo IMPACTO Hispanic Business Accelerator grant through Ascendus. They worked directly with Ascendus and found the process seamless, straightforward, and easy. They plan to use the funds to repair mixers and an oven.
“Owning a business is not an easy road. It’s an amazing thing, but you need to be inspired by what you’re doing, whatever that is,” she said. “I think that’s super important.”
BEYOND THE BUSINESS
Through that passion, Fany has been able to do important things beyond maintaining her business, like supporting opportunities for low-income women in Mexico. “A couple of years ago, when the earthquake in Mexico occurred, I organized an event where we raised $90,000 to rebuild schools in Mexico.” Fany and her husband also focus on sustainability by working with local farmers and small producers
“We have a three-year-old son. Everything that I do and every decision that I make is in hopes that he’ll be proud. That’s important to us.”
With so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, Fany didn’t know if her store would have its pivotal summer season in 2021. She had just finished a successful holiday season, but decided to make changes to ensure that she would still be operational even if COVID-19 mandates forced her to close her store during the summer. Her main focus was keeping everyone safe and keeping the lights on. She began making tamales to donate to hospitals and communities in need while she figured out her next steps. Through this, she created El Newyorkino – a savory branch of her store that focused on Mexican homestyle meals ready to be reheated. The goal was to fill the gap between a home cooked meal and a restaurant. La Newyorkina ended up having a great summer, and El Newyorkino turned out to be an added success.
Following another successful holiday season, Fany was again unsure if she would have a summer season in 2022 with COVID-19 uncertainty. Things were opening up, but events were still being cancelled. Fany ultimately decided to close her store because filling the off season gaps was always hard even with incredible summer and holiday seasons. But her journey isn’t ending. Fany is focusing on delivery and on expanding El Newyorkino. She now has a clearer understanding of her numbers and what she needs, and is planning on opening a new store – one that focuses on both sweet and savory, a combination of La Newyorkina and El Newyorkino.