The Guelaguetza Girl
When Bricia Lopez gets into a discussion about “mom guilt”– a term used to describe the remorse many moms experience when trying to balance children, career and household responsibilities– her voice takes on a different tone.
Sitting in the back of her family’s nationally-acclaimed La Guelaguetza Restaurant in Koreatown, Lopez watches over her 2-year-old son Eddie, who is having a typical fun-filled afternoon that involves running down to the restaurant’s main dining hall, removing his sandals and climbing chairs at different tables.
“I think when you’re a mom you feel guilt in so many different ways,” says Lopez. “But one of the things I felt the most was, ‘how could I not have been there for my sister!?’”
Lopez and her older sister Paulina host a successful podcast titled The SuperMamás Podcast, which has brought them fame with listeners from as far as Afghanistan and Australia. Their fans relate to their talks about motherhood and raising kids in Los Angeles.
But prior to launching the podcast, before Lopez became a mom, she was frequently absent from Paulina’s home during a time when Paulina needed extra support raising a newborn and a toddler.
“Why did I have to be there to help? It was her decision to have kids,” Lopez would think to herself.
But when Lopez delivered her son Eddie, she was overcome by emotions including a sense of culpability that was attached to her lack of involvement in her sister’s earlier motherhood journey.
“I couldn’t believe how selfish I was. I couldn’t believe that she had gone through this twice, by herself!” she recalls. “She felt alone.”
When Lopez approached Paulina about her guilt and apologized for having been distant, Paulina reacted with a harmonious and ingenious response: “What you and I have is special…maybe we should share it!”
The Emergence of Super Mamás
While customers at La Guelaguetza order their favorite entrees, which mainly consist of dishes from Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca where Lopez was born, she sits in her back office. The popular restaurant that once belonged to her parents, was acquired by Lopez and her three siblings five years ago. Lopez is in charge of the venue’s larger-scale operations, like marketing, sales and events.
In 2015, Lopez decided to support her sister’s aspiration to have a podcast where they could both discuss the many nuances of motherhood.
“I was like, ‘I’m gonna make this happen for her and we’re going to do it,’” says Lopez. “I feel like I owed it to my sister.”
Lopez went online and researched everything necessary to create a podcast.
Space wasn’t a problem. They used a small area of the restaurant to create a recording studio. Equipment wasn’t hard to obtain, they invested some of their business income to purchase what they needed. Editing and streaming wasn’t hard, Lopez had spent countless hours researching and learning online. When all the elements were in place, they set off to produce their first show.
What Lopez achieved was a sense of closure from the days she hadn’t spent enough time with Paulina. Together, they learned that mothers near and far were relating to their experiences.
“Everyone needs to be encouraged to go on their journey. “The more empowered people feel, the better off everyone is,” says Lopez.
Two years later, the Super Mamás Podcast has proven to be a major success for the Lopez sisters.
So much that major corporations like McDonald’s, Target and Macy’s have partnered with them for social media campaigns and engagements.
On Saturday, September 16, Lopez and her sister will be at Macy’s in Los Cerritos celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with live performances, photo opportunities and other activities.
On Motherhood and Culture
Lopez started working at La Guelaguetza Restaurant when she was fifteen. Before that, she had been immersed in her dad’s Mezcal business in Oaxaca.
“I started working with my dad since I was five,” she says. “I grew up not even thinking about it. It was what we did.”
In 1994, the family moved to Los Angeles when Lopez was nine years old. She didn’t speak English at the time.
“Growing up in Mexico was very important for me,” says Lopez.
When it comes to raising her son with the same type of cultural connection, Lopez isn’t worried. “You can learn a second language but the most important thing for me is learning about another person’s culture.”
She makes yearly trips to Mexico with her son and plans on giving him an organic way to fall in love with her birthplace.
“I don’t give myself that much pressure. I don’t stress about it,” she says. “I think at some point in his life, he will live in Mexico. That’s when he’ll be immersed with the language and lifestyle.”
Plus, the 2-year-old boy is already familiar with unique aspects of Oaxacan culture. The restaurant features a store with Oaxacan made goods. There is artwork representative of Oaxaca and many of the dishes he’s been enjoying since he was introduced to solid foods are specifically from the region where Lopez spent her early childhood. Those include the likes of fried grasshoppers and the famous chicken dish with a special dark brown sauce called mole, for which La Guelaguetza has received awards and praise from tough food critics.
As Lopez walks from one end of the restaurant to another, her son follows her and smiles with a type of contentment that comes from feeling safe and belonged in his mom’s environment.
“At the end of the day, no matter what your cultural or socioeconomic background is, everything that we do is for our kids,” says Lopez. “We love our children so much.”
Connect With Bricia Lopez!
Meet the Lopez Sisters!
September 16, 2017
Mommy In Los Angeles® had the pleasure of spending time with Bricia Lopez at La Guelaguetza Restaurant for a conversation on motherhood and the relationship between sisters who grow up with the same values, while embracing different perspectives. The Lopez sisters have inspired many moms to dream big and pursue their dreams and supported local causes and projects, including our own efforts behind the Mommy In Los Angeles® brand. We thank them for their commitment in maintaining a supportive sisterhood that extends far beyond their family unit.
Photos By Rachel Carrillo