She invested R$800 in a enterprise to promote tapioca;  at this time earns BRL 500 thousand

She invested R$800 in a enterprise to promote tapioca; at this time earns BRL 500 thousand

From a poor family in Bahia, Deia Lopes, 36, moved to São Paulo at the age of 13, in 1999, to live with a sister and worked here as a cleaner, nanny and at McDonald’s. Back in Bahia, in 2004, she was a kitchen helper at a resort in Itacaré; then, in another, she made tapioca for breakfast dressed as a baiana. In 2009, she decided to invest in her own business: she opened Toca da Tapioca, in Serra Grande, Uruçuca district (BA), with BRL 800. In 2021, she earned BRL 500 thousand.

In July this year, Deia launched, initially on the Bahian market, deep-frozen tapioca discs (similar to Rap10’s semi-ready dough), but intends to expand throughout the country. The package with 6 units costs R$ 9.50 in Bahia. The price must not be the same in other regions.

“During a trip to the market, I saw a girl leaving with some packs of Rap 10 and, at that moment, the idea came to create tapioca records. Then we perfected it to launch the deep-frozen product. The validity went from 12 days to three months”, she says.

In addition to the traditional white one, there are also flavored tapioca discs (carrot with turmeric, beetroot and herbs).

Mother sold peanuts at the bus station

Deia says that she grew up watching her mother, Elenita da Conceição, taking care of their 13 children, while her husband spent two or three years working as a mason in other states, without giving any news. “The memory I have of my father [Valdemar Soares Santos] is that, when he appeared, we managed to have three meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner”, he says, referring to the money he brought to the family.

According to her, to support her children, Elenita cleaned, washed clothes and also sold peanuts at the bus station in Ubaitaba (BA) “every single day”.

At age 13, Deia decided to go live with a sister in Barueri (SP). She stayed in São Paulo until she was 18, when she became pregnant and decided to return to Bahia. She worked as a kitchen help at a resort in Itacaré, during the season (from September to February). The following season, in 2005, at another resort, Deia made tapioca during breakfast for guests, always dressed in Bahian clothes. She earned several tips, she says.

“For a few years, I worked in the spring-summer seasons in resorts in the south of Bahia and would return to São Paulo, always doing odd jobs in gastronomy. I left my son with my mother”, she says.

Back in Bahia for good, in 2008, Deia went to work at an inn in Serra Grande, where she also lived with her son.

But the money never did. So I put it in my head that I needed to change that situation. So, with R$800 from my first vacation, I rented a small spot, bought supplies and two table games and opened Toca da Tapioca in 2009.
Deia Lopes, owner of Toca da Tapioca

Northeastern is the best seller

At the time, it only had five types of stuffing (which are still on the menu today). Currently, there are 22 flavors.

Five years later, Deia moved the business to a larger space. In 2016, she bought land and built the current restaurant, which, in addition to tapioca, started selling dishes based on fish, meat and seafood. Last year, revenue was R$ 500,000, and profit, R$ 115,000.

Among the tapiocas, the best selling is Nordestina (shredded dried meat, grilled plantain and mozzarella cheese), for R$ 19. The cheapest is Baianinha (grated fresh coconut and condensed milk), for R$ 7, and the most expensive, Lampião (dried meat, curd cheese, tomato and grilled onion), for R$24.90.

Strengthen the brand of tapioca discs

Ariadne Mecate, a business consultant at Sebrae-SP, says that Deia Lopes has entrepreneurial characteristics, such as persistence, initiative, search for knowledge and commitment to what she does.

“She was innovative when she launched the tapioca discs. The idea was brilliant, as the product comes as a practical solution for people’s daily lives, in addition to opening up another source of income for your company”, he says.

The consultant says, however, that it is necessary to structure the business plan of the new product very well, how to choose the sales channels (direct, e-commerce, commercial representatives, etc.), price the product to guarantee its profit margin and even register the brand, to shield itself from the competition.

To attract customers, Ariadne says that some options are to taste the product, establish partnerships with digital influencers to publicize the brand and with hotels, restaurants and gyms to sell tapioca discs and even create subscription plans for customers.

Another concern is the competition. “Tapioca is not new, but tapioca discs are. It is important to strengthen her brand, so that she is seen as a pioneer, and not to neglect quality, ”she says.

Where to find:

Toca da Tapioca:

Source: UOL

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