Pink and Boujee LA

Oct, 12th 2021

Founder Yesenia Castro in front of the historic Sixth Street Bridge / photo by Jesse Gonzalez
Yesenia Castro is one of the baddest in the LA food scene. Donning everything pink, she is bringing the most positive and fire energy to one of Los Angeles’ staple cuisines: tacos. Pink and Boujee LA is a Latina-founded food stand experience filled with Mexican culture + LA lifestyle. Serving her signature Pink Handmade Tacos, Loaded Hot Cheetos, Aguas Frescas (con tequila per request) and many more Latino/a favorites, Yesenia offers the highest quality in both food and mission. She is a “Dreamer”, born in Mexico, and is making things happen to show pride for her community of Boyle Heights and being a part of the new wave of young Latinx entrepreneurs in LA. You’ll want to make a trip to experience amazing food and meet Yesenia Castro, founder and la jefa of Pink and Boujee LA.

In 2018, I had the pleasure to perform in a play festival produced by the regional theatre company Casa 0101 based in Boyle Heights, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, located east of the LA River. In my entire time living in LA (at that point, it had been a little over 8 years), I hadn’t ever gone to Boyle Heights despite it being 10 minutes from downtown. I was instantly grateful for the opportunity to spend five to six nights a week there for nearly two months because it has such a strong sense of culture and community that is not characteristic of most neighborhoods in LA. Today, one Boyle Heights resident is making a name for herself in the food scene, drawing on her pride for her community, culture and love of tacos. 
Pink & Boujee LA logo

ALL PINK EVERYTHING
Yesenia is a “Dreamer” who is painting the streets of LA pink with her delicious menu and enviable sense of style. With a pink pop-up tent serving as the perfect emblem of the brand, Yesenia and her Forever Team - her parents and boyfriend - have been making the rounds at a variety of food events and festivals for the last couple of months since their launch. Pink and white flowers frame a photo booth area with the cursive logo perfectly placed in the background. Yesenia is the best dressed at any taquería I’ve ever been to, often coordinating a pink cowboy hat with LA-cool sneakers. And this isn’t all for show. The food is not only beautiful - laced in a secret, all-natural pink sauce - but it tastes on point as well! (more on that later) When coming up with the concept and look of the brand, Yesenia knew she wanted to create something cute and Instagram-worthy that also incorporated her love for both Mexico and LA. “Pink” is a nod to her favorite color while “Boujee” encaptures her essence and attitude, aka “what people call her.” It’s the perfect combination representing her vibe that is to live and die in LA.  
GETTING TO KNOW LA JEFA
A scroll here and there on Instagram initially led me to Pink & Boujee’s perfectly curated page, all from the mind and manicured fingertips of Yesenia herself. Pure fun sparkled off the grid which is quite unique compared to other food brands I follow. I immediately knew I needed to a) meet this woman who was living out my girliest dreams and b) get me some of those tacos! 

Luckily my DM was accepted and Yesenia met me for matcha in the Arts District, five minutes away from where she grew up. Her family moved to Boyle Heights from Mexico when she was nine months old. Although she was raised in the States and considers herself an LA native, she’s always felt she doesn’t quite fit in, feeling a strong connection to her Mexican roots. Unfortunately, she hasn’t been able to travel to Mexico but her immediate family has passed on traditions and memories that have shaped her culture and identity as a Latina. 

When you don’t have the same opportunities as someone who was born here, it makes it hard. You’re not able to fully be yourself in a way because it’s preventing you from certain things, like going to Mexico. Growing up you always hear stories about people going for the summers, traveling, meeting their grandparents, going back and forth. I’ve never met my grandparents. I don’t really know what it’s like to have grandparents. I see my mom now with my nephew and I’m just like, oh my god that’s so beautiful. My grandpa passed away three days ago and it was really hard to be so far [away]. To see my mom… to see that she can’t even go back. I feel like growing up that way: wanting to keep my [Mexican] culture close to me; wanting to learn about my culture; wanting to be able to one day visit Mexico; I feel there’s a connection to that

Despite the limitations Yesenia has faced, her family is her biggest support, her rock, allowing her to build a life filled with so much joy, passion and ambition. From an early age, Yesenia was an entrepreneur. She opted out of attending the local high school where her older sisters went and embarked on her own path at a magnet school in downtown LA that focused on business and fashion. She collected and sold vintage clothes in her spare time and found it to be a great way to express herself and really enjoyed the art of the sale. She carried her knack for sales into a variety of industries post-college, finding success and inspiration working in insurance for several years prior to starting her own company. The owners of the Geico branch she worked in mentored her and really ignited her desire to have her own business. 

The owners were two Latinos and I fell in love with their work ethic and their story, everything they went through to get to that place. And I thought to myself, I want to be them. I want to be the boss. I want to create a family environment for my team. 

From that point forward, Yesenia set a goal to start a company that would give her the opportunity to build her own brand, celebrate her culture and put her people and business skills to work. What better way to do this… than through food. 

ADDING NEW FLAVOR TO STREET TACOS
Tacos are my weakness. I’m an LA girl and what better describes a Mexican more than tacos!?

Yesenia’s love for food and her culture mixed with her business savvy presented itself as the perfect avenue to start a company. She is the friend people call when they want to know where to eat. She always has a list of the top places, especially tacos. Seeing a clear gap in the number of women running taquerías, Yesenia knew this was her opportunity to not only cook incredible food but to also take up space as a proud Latina business owner. Her mom helps her perfect the recipes, making sure to be very clean with their cooking style using natural, fresh and organic ingredients. Yesenia’s dad and boyfriend help with prep and serving on the day of events, creating a warm, family vibe that adds to the overall charm of the whole experience. Led by Yesenia’s vision for fun and flair, the team has curated an impressive menu with room to expand as the brand grows. 

Pink & Boujee LA wouldn’t be possible without the help of my parents and boyfriend. My forever team. I love them. I love being able to share these moments with them and make them a part of this journey. 
Pink & Boujee LA’s Recipe for Success
Pink handmade vegan tacos with mango salsa
Menu specialty: Pink Handmade Tacos 
The Concept: 
1. Yesenia’s LOVE for tacos 
2. Staying connected to her culture 
3. Creating a cool eating experience for all her Latinas/os 

The Taste: Delicious, fresh street tacos featuring your favorite meat of choice (or vegan option is available!) I had the carne asada and chorizo tacos plus the amazzzzing birria con consomé. Washed down with delicious pineapple agua fresca. *chef’s kiss*

Other Notable Items: Loaded Hot Cheetos, Aguas Frescas, Birria + Consomé and basically all the stuff you ate growing up Latino/a. You cannot forget Salsa!! Yesenia created their famous Mango salsa + Pink salsa that have been a HIT! 

COMMUNITY IS ALWAYS IN MIND
At the core of Yesenia’s business is her love for and impact on her community of Boyle Heights. Boyle Heights is not only Yesenia’s home, but it is a historic neighborhood that has been coined “the Ellis Island of the West Coast”. It was once an ultra-diverse neighborhood that segued into a primarily Latino/a community that was the epicenter of the Chicano Movement in the 1960s. Today, while rich in Mexican-American culture, it sits at the intersection of a different kind of movement: gentrification. 

Talking about gentrification in LA is almost as common as talking about how great the weather is. It’s impossible to ignore unless you live on the Westside of course. But if you inhabit a “creative enclave” of the city or if you’re in the housing market and not a multimillionaire, you have to face gentrification’s imprint on long-term residents within communities that are primarily home to people of color. Local news publications, blogs and magazines looove to try to sound eloquent about gentrification however the narrative rarely comes from people who have called a neighborhood home for decades. Yesenia has seen firsthand how Boyle Heights has been struggling at the hands of gentrification. 

Our rents are over the roof and they will only get worse! I just saw the other day in an article that there is now a Million dollar home in Boyle Heights. Latina/o businesses will soon not be able to afford their lease/rent which means new owners will come and gentrify that location that was once latina/o/poc owned. They will build a cafe or bar and little by little our community will get pushed out just like it happened to Echo Park, Highland Park, and all other communities. When I see a poc- owned business in Boyle heights or in general, it fills my heart with joy because it creates an experience for the culture by the culture. It is important to help our Latinx/poc businesses in any way we can because it’s tough fighting gentrification.

This perspective is so important, especially when it comes to the food and restaurant scene. Bloggers and “hit-lists” have made an effort in the last 18 months to be more inclusive but we all have a responsibility to get to know and support business owners who are truly local - not just the new ones with little to no understanding or respect for the existing community. Yesenia understands the assignment, making her Boyle Heights community and fellow Latinx entrepreneurs proud by choosing the Sixth Street Bridge as the backdrop for her first official company photoshoot. 

I’ll always be proud to be from Boyle Heights which is why I wanted to capture these amazing shots in front of our famous 6th St bridge, which is being remodeled at the moment. That was an ICONIC bridge. I want to give a shout-out to my photographer Jesse for capturing these amazing shots of what represents BOYLE HEIGHTS. I’m happy that people are able to see who I am through my business. Taking a look at what we stand for, what we believe in, keeping our culture close to us and making something for Latinas to be proud of.
photo by Jesse Gonzalez, a Boyle Heights photographer whose love for his community is unmatched

Follow Pink & Bougie LA on Instagram @pinkandboujeela to stay up-to-date on their latest pop-ups and where to find them around LA. 
Book Yesenia and her crew for your next event, launch, birthday, baby shower, the list goes on… 

Yesenia’s go-to spots to hit up and support in Boyle Heights: 
Caramelo Boutique @caramelo_boutique (her sister’s boutique) 
Brooklyn Ave. Pizza Co. @brooklynavepco
La Barbacha Restaurant @labarbacha
Xelas @houseofxelas
La Mayor Empanadas food stand @lamayorempanadas
Jesse Gonzalez @gonzophotos_

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 


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