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Gisa Heinz

Ask Adalgisa (Gisa) Heinz where her entrepreneurial streak comes from and she’ll tell you it simply runs through her veins. “I have that spirit in me,” the Lake Highlands mom of two says. “I come from an entrepreneurial family.” Her grandmother ran a cheese shop out of her home in Santa Ana, El Salvador, and her father launched a pharmaceutical company in Guatemala (where Heinz was born and raised) at just 27 years old.
 
“[As a child], I used to help my grandmother with her shop,” she says. “Me and my cousins would make Play-Doh tamales and try to sell them in the little neighborhood.”
 
Though Guatemala was home base, Heinz traveled extensively. She studied in Florence, Italy, for a semester in college and frequented El Salvador to visit her mother’s family. “My parents exposed me to different cultures and diversity,” she says.
 
But she never dreamed she’d one day call Dallas home. She landed in Texas at 27 after deciding to pursue her MBA at Southern Methodist University — a school she chose because of its proximity to Guatemala.
 
In the seven years since her big move, she’s worked her way up to a marketing job at 7-Eleven, married her grad school sweetheart, Peter, a financial restructuring consultant from Chicago, and welcomed two girls — 3-year-old Annalee and 1-year-old Emilia. Through it all she’s done marketing work remotely for her family’s business abroad.
 
Despite her professional success, Heinz hasn’t lost touch with her roots or given up her entrepreneurial spirit. For this reason, she left corporate America nearly five years ago to focus on family and wait patiently for the right opportunity to present itself.
 
It was in conversation with her friend and now business partner Susana Arce, who hails from Bolivia, that the idea of Folklore Baby & Kids came to be. “We wanted to promote our unique cultures and the local creative talent from our countries,” she says. “We were talking about artisan blankets from Bolivia and textiles from Guatemala when it clicked.”
 
Last fall, Heinz and Arce co-founded the online boutique that carries children’s clothing, toys and home decor and accessories handcrafted in Latin America — and Heinz says the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Folklore participated in West Elm Local, a program highlighting local artisans and shops, and frequently holds pop-up shops at local markets.
 
How do you select the merchandise for Folklore?
I travel to Guatemala a few times a year for work related to my family’s business, to visit friends and family and to source merchandise. We look for independent designers or artisans at local markets. We want to promote these people and empower them to continue doing the work that distinguishes them.
 
Are there plans for a brick-and-mortar store?
We would love to have an actual store, but we would kill ourselves if we did that right now. Right now, we’re focusing on online and getting more exposure in the local community. Once we get into a good place, we’ll invest in an actual store.
 
How do you balance a new business with raising two daughters?
It’s been a challenge, but I rely a lot on my husband. He’s really supportive and helpful. We’re a good team. I also do a lot of multitasking throughout the day.
 
Describe a typical day in your life.
We spend a lot of time at the house. I’d rather spend quality time with my girls at home instead of succumbing to a hectic outing.
 
Like a classic Latin American family, we spend a lot of time in the kitchen. In the morning, we have breakfast and I either go to the gym or we have a playdate. In the afternoon, I have to make sure they nap because it’s my time to work. I’m a little bit of a disciplinarian when it comes to the sleeping schedule because that’s my time to get stuff done. 
 
Are you raising the girls to have a connection to their Guatemalan heritage?
I take the girls to Guatemala at least twice a year. I speak to them exclusively in Spanish. It’s important to me that they know their roots — that they know the language and can talk to their grandparents and cousins.
 
What’s been the best part of having your own business?
The best part is working with my business partner because we really are a great team. I’m really pleased that I found my perfect match for business. We tag-team almost everything. Susana handles the financials while I handle most of the marketing.
 
And the scariest part?
Sometimes I feel like I’m working too much during the day, and I feel guilty that I’m not paying attention to the girls. My computer stays open in the kitchen. I’m always attending to the girls' needs and checking email or taking a call. That’s the hardest part, trying to balance being a mom and being a businessperson at the same time.
 
Do you have a hard time knowing when to take a break?
It never stops, and I’m a little bit of a perfectionist, so when I see an email or text I feel like I need to respond. I ask myself, “Can it wait?” I’m trying to keep the girls the priority during the day; they are the reason I decided to stay home in the first place.
 
What do you hope your girls learn from watching you helm a business?
If you work really hard and keep your eye on your dream, you can achieve anything. My parents always led by example, so I want to do the same for them.
 
It must be hard that your family is so far away. Do you have a local support system?
We have a very close-knit group of friends that we’re always hanging out with. They are very helpful and supportive because they know I don’t have any family around.
 
Where are your favorite spots to go around town?
Tei Tei Robata Bar for date nights with Peter. We love a more casual dinner at Resident Taqueria with the family.
 
Is there anything you do for yourself to stay sane?
I like to go to the gym. I get at least three workouts in a week. I treat myself with a facial at least once a month at Spa Nordstrom, and I like to go shopping to get myself a little something.
 
Favorite store to shop at?
Anthropologie. I can spend hours in there; they have a little bit of everything.
 
How do you like to spend family time?
Peter travels a lot for work, so we maximize the weekends. We’re doing this new thing where we visit new neighborhoods around town to see different parts of the city. We really enjoy the Dallas Farmers Market area.
 
Best thing about parenthood?
The best part about being a parent is that I get to see the world through their eyes and appreciate the simple things.
 
What’s the hardest thing about being a parent?
I think the biggest struggle has been that I’m a worrisome person. Keeping myself from worrying about everything has been challenging.
 
Would you call yourself a helicopter parent?
Yes, totally. I’m trying to let go.