Ines Santacruz is a sophomore in the College of General Studies at Boston University double majoring in computer science and sociology. Ines is an international student from Mexico City, Mexico, who started a small business called “home to home” that sells assorted jams and preservatives made by local women in Mexico. During this interview, I asked Ines a series of questions to get to know her, her incredible business, and the profound impact she has made on women’s lives in Mexico.
Q: What inspired you to start your own business selling jams?
A: It started during the COVID pandemic when school was not in-person. I was doing schoolwork, but it was not the same as going to school, and in the beginning my school was not very organized, so I had free time. One day my mom sent me a link to a competition for high school students to find ways to decrease the impact of COVID in Mexico. I thought this would be interesting to do. I started doing some research on COVID, but we didn’t know much about it at the time. A lot of people were starting to lose jobs and many places were closing. I called a woman who works in my house. She had gone home to her village two hours away from the city. I asked her how COVID had impacted her town. A lot of people lost their jobs, returned back to the town. We started talking and decided to start a project together to go into the competition. We wanted to find something practical for people to do without leaving the town because we didn’t want to bring COVID into the town. The town had a lot of fruit and nature around so we were thinking of how the people could use the resources they have without leaving home. We decided that making preserves and jams was a good idea because it’s easy to learn how to make. When we started making jams, the guys were not into it so mostly women made the jams. It started to become a business mostly for women.
Q: Where is your business right now?
A: Right now, we’re in a Christmas bazaar selling jams in gift bags with piñatas. We are working on selling jams to big companies as well. We are working on contacting them. Last year, we got an order for 600 gifts to one company which helped us a lot.
Q: How was it impacted the women’s lives in Mexico?
A: It has impacted the women’s lives a lot. I have had many letters written to me. A lot of the women didn’t work before, and some felt like they had no purpose in life, they were just doing the same thing every day. They usually stayed at home and took care of the children, but this business gave them a new purpose and something to look forward to. A lot of the time they were dependent on their husbands, but now they feel independent and empowered. They opened their own bank accounts and have their own money. The women are also very creative. At first, we were just doing a few flavors, but they wanted to try new flavors like cactus flavor!
Q: Where do you want to take this business in the future?
A: I hope it grows and gets bigger. Right now, it’s going slow because I am also in school, so it’s a little bit hard. In the future, I want to let the business grow independently without me having to be there all the time. I also want it to grow nationally and maybe even internationally in the long run.
Q: Where do the profits that you make go?
A: The profits all go toward the women and the business. A certain amount stays within the company to keep the company going. Around 70–75 percent of the profits go towards women and the rest stays in the business. We are trying to find people to help us and work for us. Right now, there are two other people working with us, and we are trying to find more.