By Hannah J. Phillips
Photograph by Minta Maria Smail
Veronica & Miguel Garza
Co-founders, Siete Foods
Just five years after introducing their almond flour tortillas to Austin, the family behind Siete Foods have changed the game for grain-free products across the country. This year, they raised $90 million to expand the brand, innovating new products and adding members to the growing team. Today, Siete products are available in more than 13,000 stores, including Target and Whole Foods, but it sounds as though the Garzas are just getting started.
While siblings Veronica and Miguel have been the public face of the brand, the name Siete honors their tight-knit family of seven, whose mantra is “juntos mejor,” or, “better together.” When Veronica Garza was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases in high school, all seven members of the third-generation Mexican American family adopted a grain-free diet. The family also started working out together and eventually opened a CrossFit gym. Now the clan brings that family-oriented ethos to every business decision at Siete.
The idea sprouted when Veronica first started making grain-free tortillas for family gatherings. Growing up in Laredo and visiting family in Baytown, she recalls making tortillas with her Grandma Campos from an early age.
“She would invite every grandchild and great-grandchild into the kitchen to make tortillas, and they were such an important part of our lives.”
As Veronica learned to manage her illness, she shared her homemade almond flour tortillas with her CrossFit community. When people requested her tortillas for their own grain-free diets, Miguel suggested that they start a business. Approaching small stores in Austin, where all seven members of the family had studied at the University of Texas, the Garzas landed their first account with Wheatsville Food Co-Op in 2014. The products sold out in days.
Veronica quickly located a commercial kitchen space in a local gluten-free bakery, and her family started making the trip to Austin from Laredo every weekend. Already accustomed to sweating together in the gym, they started sweating together in the kitchen to grow the brand.
“We wanted Siete to feel like an extension of our family,” says Miguel. “The culture we created has allowed that to happen. We have seen how family impacts health and well-being, so we made that our core value early on: family first, family second, business third.”
Each member of the family has played a key role on the team, allowing Veronica the freedom to innovate new recipes. Starting with her signature almond flour tortillas, she soon added cassava flour tortillas to accommodate customers with nut allergies. New products are the direct result of her creativity and the family’s commitment to customer feedback. Using grain-free, gluten-free and vegan-friendly ingredients, Siete now boasts five product lines, including sauces, dips, chips and taco shells.
“We see ourselves as a Mexican American food brand, heritage-inspired and innovative,” Veronica says. “We want to solve problems for our customers, but the products still have to taste good. We want to be as inclusive as possible without compromising on taste.”
As the product assortment grows, so does the team at Siete, now headquartered in a colorful campus (complete with a café and CrossFit gym) on Burnet Road. Initially, Miguel says they hired “Swiss Army knife” employees, problem-solvers with a passion for building a scrappy Mexican American food brand. But as business grew, they started seeking specific skill sets that could take them to the next level.
“You quickly realize that the only way to scale is to find good people who have skill sets that complement or even outshine your own. Year after year, you lift your head up and look at who is on the bus and where you need to go. Then, you add more people relative to the direction you’re headed and the problems you need to solve that year.”
Asked about their vision for the future, Miguel and Veronica share general plans to add to the team, grow distribution and create delicious new products. But ultimately, the Garzas are less concerned about where the bus is headed and more about who comes along for the ride.
“If we can build a company where we do everything with love,” Veronica says with a smile, “scaling that business to a billion-dollar brand will become a recipe for success for other mission-driven companies.”