Small business, big dreams

More and more each year, Brooks is becoming a hub for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and create the future that was once just a dream. Success for one is success for all — as the South Side’s economy grows, so does the list of opportunities for anyone who ever dreamed of owning their own business.

Bravery and innovation: A native South Sider talks what entrepreneurship means to him

By Andrew Anguiano, Co-Founder and CEO of Southside Craft Soda

Hustling from day one

If you know me, you know that Southside Craft Soda isn’t my first stab at South Side entrepreneurship. After I received a Communications Art Degree from Texas State University, I began working as a freelance graphic designer from my house on the South Side of San Antonio.

One of my first gigs was doing design work for Dell, based in Round Rock, Texas. This was in 2007 when the internet was still in its early stages, so I didn’t have it at my house, but my mom did. Like a good South Sider, I lived on the same street as my mom, so I would create the design on my Mac bubble computer, save it onto a CD, walk it over to my mom’s, and email it to Dell. Every time they had an edit, I repeated this process.

The underdog bites back

Growing up on the South Side, right by Mission San Jose, I’ve always admired the story of the underdog. The underdog symbolizes the idea that despite all odds, if you put in enough work and have enough heart, there’s a shot for you. That’s why it was so important to me to open my craft soda company, co-founded with our chief soda maker, Gregg Spickler, right here on the South Side.

Many people who are from this side of town can attest: it’s not uncommon to grow up with a feeling that you’re not as good as the north side. There was this misperception that the South Side was always behind everyone else and that we somehow didn’t have what the other side of town had.

Fast-forward to 2018 when we began selling our craft soda, and one of our first customers was Larder, the market and coffee shop located inside Hotel Emma at the Pearl, a five-star boutique hotel that regularly tops the list of the country’s best places to stay. Suddenly, there’s a product named Southside Craft Soda being sold at this place deemed the ultimate in high-end and luxury. The symbolism of that was almost too much to handle. It told me and everyone else from the South Side that we belong.

Innovation: South Side style

People are starting to realize the talent that comes from this side of town. There’s an innovation here — it just looks a little different than other areas. Our innovation is food and craftsmanship. (Have you ever been to a South Side taqueria? There’s some serious flavor innovation happening there.) Our start-ups are selling clothes at the flea market or roasted corn on the side of the road. These business owners have the courage and bravery to say, “I’m going to create this and put a tent up and see what happens.” It’s how we do things and it’s just as beautiful as more mainstream types of entrepreneurship.

As a business owner from the South Side, it’s important for me to take what I’ve learned and pay it forward to my community. Historically, my neighbors and family members who also call the South Side home haven’t had access to the high-paying jobs and booming industries that San Antonio has seen. That’s a barrier that companies like mine can help alleviate. I hope to be able to provide jobs to people from the South Side, because I know that there’s no limit to the talent and hard work you can find down here.

For those that are considering starting a business at Brooks or in the South Side area, here is my advice.

  • If you’re going to go into business, you have to realize it’s a lifestyle. You can’t be fearful. You can never stop hustling.
  • There are plenty of resources to get you going. Join the South San Antonio Chamber of Commerce or any number of networking groups.
  • There are different ways to own and start a business. Don’t be tied down to the traditional route.

Linda Lazo, owner of Linda’s De Novo Hair Design, is just one example of the potential for growth at Brooks and the rest of the South Side. With support from the Brooks team, and other stakeholders like the South San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, there’s no limit to what small businesses can achieve at Brooks.