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Faces of Business: The journey from pandemic to Green Roots Meals to Dos Amigas

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Liz Gonzales-Lara (left) and Erica Arteaga (right). Photo courtesy of The Unfound Door and Colorado Business Roundtable.

Green Roots Meals is a woman and minority-owned business specializing in authentic Mexican food delivery to homes and businesses throughout Metro Denver.

The Denver meal delivery company is helmed by entrepreneurs—Érica Arteaga and Liz Gonzalez-Lara. “We are two Mexican moms living in Denver, Colorado curating the most authentic Mexican food and delivering to Denver metro households to help take away the work of planning dinner with our delicious and comforting options,” says Gonzalez-Lara.

When the pandemic caused their respective businesses to contract almost overnight, the pair saw the potential for a high-quality Mexican food delivery service that could bring prepared meals directly to Denver residents.

“The convenience and value of having delicious, chef-prepared food delivered to your doorstep cannot be overstated,” says Arteaga. “Our customers include everyone from local families working from home to ‘quaranteams’ that miss their favorite Mexican restaurant to frontline workers who crave a good meal at the end of a long day. They all appreciate having prepared meals waiting in the freezer ready to heat and eat.”

Made in Mexico

The roots of their business are in Mexico and family is at the heart of Green Roots Meals’ food.

Arteaga grew up working in a daycare center and kitchens of the Aguascalientes farm business her grandfather established in 1957. Her Denver-born husband brought her to Colorado, and she’s been importing frozen prepared food from Mexico to supply restaurants in the Denver metro area for a decade. She maintains deep ties to her family and country of birth, and all of the recipes and foods in the Green Roots line originate either from her family’s Aguascalientes farm or her Houston family’s meat business.

“We hope that Green Roots allows families to slow down after a long day and enjoy dinnertime with no effort or drama,” says Arteaga.

Gonzalez-Lara was born in Guadalajara and spent much of her early life in the United States working in restaurants. She discovered her passion for the transformative power of hair design and makeup and founded Beauty on Location and L Style Bar, businesses that have earned many accolades in Denver and beyond. Unable to find the true Mexican flavors she had grown up with, Gonzalez-Lara connected with Arteaga’s Mexican food import business.

With Green Roots Meals, Gonzalez-Lara has returned to the flavors of her childhood. “As a working parent, I understand the challenges of coming home to prepare a meal,” she says. “Green Roots Meals offers a delicious alternative to take-out that is authentic to the homemade recipes I grew up with.”

What is one of the most important decisions you have made for Green Roots Meals in the past year?

The most important decision we made was to not think twice and start this business last year as the pandemic began,” both women say. “We are so proud of ourselves for achieving so much in just one year and are excited for what the future holds.”

Who is your most important key audience?

“Busy families who want to help with meal planning and people craving the authentic taste of Mexican food,” says Gonzalez-Lara.

What is one new initiative or commitment Green Roots Meals has launched during the past year that you are particularly proud of?

“We launched the entire business concept in March of 2020 offering a contactless delivery of authentic Mexican food, helping people eat delicious food while restaurants were closed and most of our clients were quarantined,” says Arteaga. “During this time we also learned that the name Green Roots Meals does not really fit what we do and we are in the middle of rebranding.”

The new name will now be Dos Amigas: A Taste of Mexico and the website will soon be live

What are recent actions for Green Roots Meals that you are most proud of championing in your roles as founders?

As founders we are so proud of growing our business by 1000% in less than a year,” says Gonzalez-Lara.

Arteaga adds, “With the help of our community we have also raised money to give back to our local schools and we’re offering a non-profit discount along with providing tasty Mexican food to the Village Exchange Center for them to distribute to their diverse community in need of meals.”

Where have you drawn inspiration from during this challenging time?

“We’ve been inspired by the amazing essential workers who never tire of helping their community and from the people who decided to get creative and find solutions to make a positive impact in our world,” Arteaga says. “These are the times to adapt and try to have a positive outlook to leave a better world for our children.”

In addition to taking the necessary measures to help stop the COVID-19 virus, we hear there are many who are taking time to reflect on the values and lessons learned during this time. Have you done any of that and are you willing to share anything with us?

“Yes, it’s extremely rewarding to be able to offer a comforting meal to our customers while at the same time following all guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Gonzales-Lara says. “As mothers, we feel extremely blessed for the opportunity we ‘ve had to spend more time with our children and 2020 made us appreciate our family and friends even more.”

Is there a particular COBRT policy priority that you feel most strongly about?

Both Arteaga and Gonzales-Lara emphasize, “As immigrants, we feel particularly strong about COBRT’s Immigration stand and their policy priority to help fix our broken visa system and the process of legal immigration.”

Who is your hero or most influential role model? 

Arteaga says, “My hero and most influential role model is my Dad. He is my inspiration as an entrepreneur himself.”

“Both my parents are my heroes,” says Gonzales-Lara. “They both have shown me the importance of a hard work ethic and I’m grateful for that.”

About the Colorado Business Roundtable
The Colorado Business Roundtable engages with elected leaders, business and nonprofit leaders, and other strategic allies to improve the business climate in our state by unapologetically amplifying the voice of business across all four corners of Colorado.

Faces of Business: find your “why” and your purpose for being

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Photo courtesy of The UnFoundDoor and Colorado Business Roundtable

When you watch the Colorado Business Roundtable’s Faces of Business campaign, Lloyd Lewis stands out. He is committed with every fiber of his being, business and life to “giving back.”

That is loud and clear along with his sharply focused vision and belief that businesses are about the lives of real people.

Lewis says, “I believe that business success cannot be measured by bottom line profit alone. True success means our planet, communities and bottom lines are all thriving in harmony.”

Lewis is in his sixteenth year as CEO of arc Thrift Stores in Colorado. He’s led the organization to be something much bigger than just a regular nonprofit. Arc is the largest funder of advocacy for and employer of people with intellectual disabilities in Colorado.

“A significant part of feeling value beyond our compensation at arc is working on something greater than ourselves,” says Lewis. “Our work–our just cause– s simple and understandable. It’s linked to our ‘why’, our purpose for being, that is so inspiring and compelling that people are willing to engage, support, and even sacrifice to see that the vision we believe in is advanced.”

For more than 50 years, arc Thrift Stores has been an integral part of the fabric of Colorado. With multiple retail locations throughout the state, arc prides itself on being an organization that lives and breathes its mission to enhance the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

“We believe that by providing gainful and enriching employment as well as educational programming, people with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other intellectual and developmental disabilities will thrive and gain independence,” says Lewis. “We celebrate individuality and believe in empowering everyone to be the best they can be, and our programs touch the lives of thousands of people every year.”

The arc Thrift Store mission tenets–advocacy, inclusion, and acceptance–strike a very personal note in Lloyd Lewis’ life. He’s the father of a 17-year old young man with Down syndrome.

“What keeps me up at night is that this vulnerable population–my son, my employees and friends–and the thousands of people in Colorado who have IDD and chronic care needs, are not being adequately protected,” he says.

“We believe when customers choose to shop thrift, they are helping their budgets and also our planet while supporting a local charity,” he says. “In many ways arc Thrift Stores are the heart of their communities.”

Proceeds generated through the sale of gently used clothing and household items at arc Thrift Stores are distributed to arc, ACL and Advocacy Denver Chapters in Colorado.

What does business mean to you?

“It’s summed up in two words, ‘Giving Back,’” says Lewis. “Businesses are not buildings. Businesses are a force for good. The faces of business powering that force for good at arc are our people with IDD who everyday bring excitement, energy, and embody purpose, pride and passion in the work they do and the independence they achieve.”

Lewis emphasizes that increasing awareness of the arc Thrift Store mission throughout Colorado will open new avenues for additional funding for our chapters so that advocacy and services for people with IDD can be strengthened.

“Business isn’t just good,” Lewis says. “Business is very good and a major contributor to quality of life in all our lives. At arc, we try to live up to that every day.”

What is the single most important decision you made for arc Thrift Stores in the past year?

“The most significant decision I made was to apply to be recognized as an essential business during the pandemic,” Lewis says. “This allowed us to remain open and provide substantial relief to Colorado citizens.”

Arc Thrift Stores chose to pivot and meet the growing needs of the Colorado community. In 2020, the retailer provided a total value of $243,850 through an estimated 196,000 pounds of product and food. The economic impact that arc Thrift Stores has had on the Colorado community through COVID so far has exceeded $56 million.

Where have you drawn inspiration during this challenging time?

“My son inspires me every day,” says Lewis. “He’s an incredible human being and I am so very proud of him.”

“The other sources and never ending reservoir of inspiration are arc Thrift Store employees with IDD,” he continues “Our programs touch the lives of thousands of people every year.”

About the Colorado Business Roundtable
The Colorado Business Roundtable engages with elected leaders, business and nonprofit leaders, and other strategic allies to improve the business climate in our state by unapologetically amplifying the voice of business across all four corners of Colorado.

Faces of Business: discover your purpose and live your passion

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Left: Habab Balla; Right: Helen Hayes | Photos courtesy of The UnfoundDoor and Colorado Business Roundtable

Meet two inspiring women who both believe that business, and the faces behind companies, can help people succeed.

Habab Balla works for Arrow Electronics as a Data Security Analyst. She met Helen Hayes, CEO of Activate Workforce Solutions, while searching for a job opportunity and sustainable career path.

In 2019, Balla was hired as an apprentice in technology and cybersecurity at Arrow. Within a year, she was a full-time member of the Arrow cybersecurity team.

“I met Helen right after I graduated from Colorado Technical University. I was looking for a professional opportunity in technology and cybersecurity,” says Balla. “I believe that, because of Helen and Activate Workforce Solutions, I have a job that I’m thrilled about at Arrow Electronics. I’m very proud to be part of this organization.”

Activate Workforce Solutions is an employer-centric, people-focused recruiting and coaching firm. The company lives in the space between recruiting and retention, helping job seekers find professional career pathways, and helping employers hire and retain talented individuals.

“We are purposeful and pragmatic recruiters and coaches that activate the potential of talented individuals, creating equitable paths for people seeking careers and employers seeking talent, “says Hayes. “Our unique partnerships with Colorado employers allows us to offer our services at no cost to job seekers.”

Balla emigrated from Sudan to the U.S. in 2013 in pursuit of prosperity, a future, and with a passion for cybersecurity and technology. “I believe that technology is the key to success for any business,” she says. “I believe that the IT industry is all about coming up with solutions. I’m a problem-solving person who likes troubleshooting, and this job brings out the best in me.”

“When I met Habab, I was immediately struck with her stellar qualifications: a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, an MBA and a Master’s in Information Technology,” says Helen. “Even more compelling than her credentials, are her personal traits of resilience, self-awareness, drive and joy. Melding her experience with those traits gave Arrow a job candidate with tremendous promise.”

What does business mean to you?

“I believe in the ability of business to elevate individuals through the transformative power of work” says Hayes. “Business stands apart and alone in its ability to build flourishing communities through the income, wealth and dignity that comes from purposeful work.”

“Business for me is the future,” says Balla. “Turning your passion into financial stability, money, prosperity and brightness of the future. I’m a single mom. I have two daughters, five and six. I want to afford the best for my family.”

Most important decision you made in the past year?

“In 2020, we launched the Colorado Inclusive Economy Movement to inspire, invite and challenge CEOs to rebuild an economy that works for all,” says Hayes. “Ours is a movement of CEOs who have the grit and passion to build a Colorado of racial diversity, equity and inclusion.”

“This pandemic is tough on all families, but for single parents like me who have to suddenly balance working from home and deal with homeschooling, it has been very stressful. Taking family medical leave or quit my job, after this long journey, to apply for unemployment wasn’t a choice for me,” says Habab. “I choose to continue learning and get more experience that will result in more stability for me and my kids.”

What is one stakeholder group you are paying particular attention to in both the short and long term?

“At Activate, we balance our attention between the pressing business needs of our employer partners and the desire for economic mobility of our clients. 2020 brought into sharp focus the importance of balancing profitability and community impact for business,” says Hayes. “We help our employer partners find and retain extraordinary talent from often underrepresented communities. And Individuals who launch careers through Activate earn better wages, more comprehensive benefits packages, and the dignity and stability of work.”

Again, Balla’s focus is more personal. “I’m focused on quality of life for my family. And I’m dedicated to doing the best job possible at Arrow, putting in extra hours to build a nest egg for the future.”

Especially during times like this pandemic, where have you drawn your inspiration?

Balla says, “I was working full time, taking my kids to daycare as their school was closed. It was very challenging for me trying to get through the actual day-to-day of life under quarantine and manage my resources to cover daycare expenses as well as manage all the fears associated with this pandemic. My kids inspire me every day. My team at Arrow inspires me to want to learn more and grow professionally. Thinking about our future gives me energy to wake up every morning to work and learn.”

For Hayes, “I have found inspiration from my faith and wisdom from the Scriptures. In 1989, I miraculously survived the commercial airline disaster of the crash-landing of United Flight 232. I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t believe I’m here for a reason, and one of those reasons is transforming individuals and their families through the dignity of work. Even in the midst of a pandemic, I feel great purpose in being here, today, to help elevate individuals and businesses to their fullest potential.”

Who is your hero or most influential role model?

“My manager is my role model,” says Balla. “He is a true leader who leads by example.

The best guidance he has given me is that we cannot avoid making mistakes; mistakes are learning opportunities.

“I came from a different culture and unique social customs; I was unfamiliar with workplace manners and protocols. He encourages me to be more confident in my skills, abilities and my career, and helps me to overcome the cultural barriers at the workplace. ” she emphasizes.

“Without a doubt, my mom. Her family lost everything and became refugees in China during World War II,” remembers Hayes. “My family fled from place to place during and after the War; ultimately my mom came to this country on borrowed money and full scholarship. She eventually got her Bachelors, Masters and Ph.D. in chemistry. She raised five kids while working full-time, and literally became a rocket scientist.”

Words of inspiration for others in business

Balla is fond of author Ryan Babineaux and his book Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win and this particular quote: Successful people make a habit of pursuing what they enjoy. They take actions that are aligned with their passions and avoid things that dampen their engagement in life.

“My manager brings this quote to my attention frequently, and he recommended this book to me as well,” she says.

For Hayes, “Choose joy and gratitude every day. Discover and live out your purpose to make life better for your neighbors. Work hard and have fun with your colleagues. Treasure every minute you have to spend with your family; they leave the nest too fast. Nurture your spiritual health along with your physical and mental health. Be a blessing.”

About the Colorado Business Roundtable
The Colorado Business Roundtable engages with elected leaders, business and nonprofit leaders, and other strategic allies to improve the business climate in our state by unapologetically amplifying the voice of business across all four corners of Colorado.

The Colorado Business Roundtable launches Faces of Business campaign

The Colorado Business Roundtable (COBRT) premiered its advertising campaign called “Faces of Business” at the organization’s February 22 State of the State live virtual event with Governor Jared Polis.

The Faces of Business campaign profiles 20 real-life business owners, employers and employees from every age group and demographic. The campaign is uplifting, non-political and non-partisan and demonstrates how the main ingredient of businesses are people.

“Business is a force for good for Colorado. When business succeeds, communities succeed, we all succeed. That is the core message of the Colorado Business Roundtable,” says Debbie Brown, Colorado Business Roundtable President. “But, behind each business are people who represent and lead their businesses. They come from every walk of life. They are part of our communities. They are our neighbors.”

The Faces of Business campaign kicks off on March 2 in ColoradoBiz magazine’s ColoradoBiz Daily newsletter.

The businessmen and women featured in the campaign segments will be showcased both in the Daily and on a special Faces of Business landing page on COBRT’s website at

Once launched, COBRT will expand the campaign statewide.

The ad features Coloradans sharing this theme:

Businesses aren’t buildings. Businesses are people. We are the faces of business. I am the face of business. We come from every walk of life. We dare to dream, and we work hard to provide for our families. We care deeply about those who work with us– their goals and their dreams–and our businesses are a force for good.

Business owners being spotlighted in phase one of the campaign include:

  • Habab Bala, Information Security Analyst at Arrow Electronics; Helen Hayes, Founder/CEO at Activate Workforce Solutions
  • Jose Beteta & Tami Maldonado-Vega, Co-Founders at Racies Brewing Company
  • Lloyd Lewis, CEO & President at arc Thrift Stores

Watch for their stories, exclusively featured in the ColoradoBiz Daily newsletter. Subscribe here to this free newsletter.

“Business can be challenging, especially now. But it’s always exciting, energizing, fulfilling and rewarding,” says Brown. “Our Faces of Business reflect Colorado’s independent spirit. They are filled with purpose, pride and passion. And they love giving back to our communities.”

About the Colorado Business Roundtable
The Colorado Business Roundtable engages with elected leaders, business and nonprofit leaders, and other strategic allies to improve the business climate in our state by unapologetically amplifying the voice of business across all four corners of Colorado.