When people say that they really enjoyed my salsa, it's like, "I did it. I got it right!"  -- Carla Gallegos-Ortega of New Mexico Sabor, LLC
It's all about flavor.

Carla Gallegos-Ortega has been making salsa for friends and family for years, but the motivation to start a business came from the many people who asked where to buy the salsa. On a whim, she entered the 2017 Salsa Fiesta and won a cash prize and trophy. Her next thought was, "I think I can do this!" Today, she is the owner of New Mexico Sabor , an Albuquerque-based salsa manufacturing company.

Why start a business when you have a full-time job that you love, especially with so much competition from big salsa companies? "It's an adventure for me. I'm a single mother. My daughter graduated from high school and moved away. This is my nest egg. I love that I'll have the opportunity to leave something for my daughter."

Gallegos-Ortega says her salsa and her company are unique. "I know that the taste itself will stand against all the others. The name says it all. Sabor means flavor. It's all about flavor. I will be adding a hotter salsa, but the company will always focus on flavor." The flamenco dancer on the label pays tribute to the owner's heritage, and the company invests in the local community by donating 10% of sales.

New Mexico Sabor salsa is produced at the South Valley Economic Development Center's Mixing Bowl. T he company employs two staff through a contract with Fathers Building Futures .

Networking is a priority for this small business owner, but she hadn't heard of SCORE until she met Celina Grife of Celina's Biscochitos , who said, "SCORE's a great resource. You need to contact them."

Gallegos-Ortega now meets regularly with SCORE mentor Dar Johnson , who helps her understand the nuts and bolts of running the business -- like cash flow, marketing and insurance -- and how to grow the business. Above all, he's given her confidence that her business is on track.

Another source of business advice has come as a result of a $10,000 technical assistance grant from the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program. This enables her to work directly with the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) . Once the grant period ends, MEP is willing to work with her company for a small fee.
All these resources and assistance are helping New Mexico Sabor grow quickly. Expansion outside NM is on the near horizon. Over the next decade, Gallegos-Ortega sees herself owning her own manufacturing company, handling co-packing for other businesses.

Her advice to new business owners? "Don't be afraid. You need put yourself out there and try. I'm always willing to share my information with other small business owners that I've met."

Information about products, retail locations, events and more may be found on the New Mexico Sabor website.
Photo credit: Katie Babuska

SCORE mentors have expertise and practical experience in the business world.

SCORE Albuquerque helps small businesses grow from start-up through maturity by providing lifelong learning opportunities for business owners. Clients develop their own path to small business success by accessing one-on-one mentoring, workshops, Business Owners Councils and a national network of resources. Our team of experienced entrepreneurs, business owners, corporate executives and managers are trained mentors who help clients gain clarity to take the next step. SCORE Albuquerque is a resource partner of the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Central New Mexico Community College (CNM). In New Mexico, SCORE also has chapters in  Santa Fe  and  Las Cruces .