An Interview With Chiara Arroyo, Co-Owner Of LA Libreria

Happy Friday, you all! We are ready for the weekend around here, aren’t you? Good news is that I have a really good post for you today!

You might already know that I am from Chile and that George and I are raising bilingual kids. Children’s books have been an important part of our lives since the kids were born so I am always on the lookout for books in Spanish, that is how I stumbled upon LA Librería, a magical Spanish bookstore (and distributor) in Los Angeles. They import original literature from Spanish-speaking countries plus great translations of English literature.

The first time I went to this beautiful store I met one of the owners Chiara. She was warm and sweet. I liked her immediately. Her daughter, Matilde, was with her that day. We talked about the difficulties of juggling business and family – one of my biggest life concerns. She told me about her business partner and friend, Celene, and how they both deal with the pressures of motherhood and work.

After meeting her I was curious to hear more about how this successful and wonderful business came about. I was also interested in hearing about the relationship between these two very strong and smart women. Starting a business with a friend sounds like a beautiful idea, don’t you think? So I wanted to learn more about how they make it work.

Celene on the left. Chiara on the right.

1) Could you tell us a little bit about you?

My name is Chiara Arroyo. I am a 40-year-old proud mother of three children: Nico 12, Leo 10 and Matilde 7. I am half Italian, half Spanish, married to a Mexican. We moved to LA six years ago from Mexico City. In 2012, I co-founded LA Librería, a bookstore and book distributer specialized in children’s literature in Spanish.La libreria

2) How did you decided to start LA Librería?

Celene (my business partner) and I love books. As mothers, we wanted our children to be bilingual and book lovers. In order to do so, we needed books, but we could not find the Spanish books we wanted in the US, so every time we traveled to our countries we would bring back a suitcase filled with Spanish books. Our kids go to a bilingual school, and we soon realized that other parents were also looking for good children’s literature in Spanish. This is why we decided to take our hobby a step further and start curating a collection of authentic literature in Spanish, beautifully illustrated and culturally diverse.

La libreria

3) Tell us the story of your relationship with Celene. Why did you decide to start this business together?

I met Celene at my childrens’ school: a public Spanish Immersion Elementary. Her daughter and my son Leo were classmates. We were both first time parents of a Kindergartener so we wanted to meet new families and support the school. We both signed up to volunteer at the school’s book fair. Disappointed by the low quality and small number of books in Spanish, we decided to help the school to find a better selection of books in Spanish. We called a few publishers and convinced them to give us some books we could sell ourselves. We set up two tables with books at the fair and sold out everything. Everybody in the school was very excited. Soon the word was out and we started receiving calls to participate in other school fairs. At that point, we realized that there was a big need for these kind of books and that this need had to be fulfilled by a professional service, not volunteers. We started this service and here we are, five years later…

La libreria

4) What are the best and worst aspects of owning a business with a friend?

There are many positive aspects of owning a business with a friend. The best part is the tranquility of working with someone you trust and respect. I also like the capacity of sharing the whole experience with your partner and friend, especially if you complement one another. I feel very fortunate.

The most difficult part is to be able to separate the professional from the personal life.

La libreria

5) What have been the biggest accomplishments of LA Librería so far?

The biggest accomplishment is to see that a bookstore – an already endangered species of Spanish children’s literature, a banned and discriminated language – is thriving thanks to a big community of families that want their children to be bilingual while reading good books. On a personal level, I feel very proud to see how a simple idea has become a reality and how much fun we have had in the process. We have learned so many things we did not know about Los Angeles, like the nuances of the American and Latino culture; we have also met a lot of nice people and communities.

6) And the biggest setbacks?

The biggest setback it is to overcome the feeling that whatever we do is not enough. There is always more to do. No matter how much you work, how fast you do it, how productive you try to be, you always end up feeling you should do more… With time we have realized that this is a marathon, not a sprint, so we need to prioritize.
La libreria

7) Have you ever felt like giving up? If yes, what kept you going?

I have felt exhausted and overwhelmed by work, by being a mother, a wife, a sister… I have felt I am doing things in halves, not in their entirety. What kept me going was the energy and excitement of Celene and the enthusiasms and expectations of the children and families that follow and support us.

8) What are the most important lessons you have learned since starting this business?

I have learned how important it is to communicate, accept your limitations, and exercise. (Men sana in corpore sano).

La libreria

9) You are a family person. Do you feel like you are able to juggle your personal and professional life?

I am able to but it is not easy. It is actually my biggest concern. My children are still young and they need their mum, but LA libreria is also a young business and it is very demanding.

10) How is your husband involved? And, do you feel having a business has changed your relationship with him?

Pablo, my husband, has been very supportive. He is my biggest fan and a very enthusiastic promoter of LA Libreria. He has helped a lot with the children. He understands because he is an entrepreneur himself. I share with him all the details and challenges of starting and running this company. I can say that our relationship has become stronger, but it hasn’t been easy, especially because we have three children in a city with no relatives and with jobs that often require travel.

11) What are your recommendations for other women that want to open their own business?

I would recommend them to enjoy the process as much as the goal. To be creative especially when solving problems; to follow their instinct and do not forget we need to make time for ourselves.

12) How do you see yourself in 5 years?

I see myself happy, enjoying family and friends. Traveling, learning and reading. I hope LA libreria can give me all of that.

Thanks, Chiara! I really enjoyed reading your answers!

LA Librería

4732 1/2 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016

You can buy books online, too!


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global fund for women

A Time To Give – Global Fund For Women

Today a group of 10 bloggers (including me) got together to talk about charities we like and support, you know, because of the Holidays and all. (This charity cyber event hop has been organized by Brynne from The Gathered Home.– Thanks, Brynne!). If you are arriving here from Cassie Bustamante’s site, welcome!

You might already know that a cause close to my heart is women’s rights. I am thankful everyday (literally) for the place I live in and the husband I married, but not all women have had that luck. There are many women that live in places where they can’t assert themselves or have freedom to make their own decisions. This is a cause of poverty and little education and why I want to talk today about the Global Fund For Women.

This organization stands behind grass roots movements for women’s human rights all over the world – movements that fight for gender equality that are created by women who are facing these issues every day. They help give funding that helps provide for the fundamental things like rent, computers, staffing, travel, training, security, and electricity. They also help connect these movements to other donors, as well as local or national women’s groups. These connections enable groups to share, learn, and rally together to strengthen movements for women’s rights.

The fund works on freedom from violence, economic and political empowerment, and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Here is its financial information, and here are some of their results.

If you want to know about more charities we like and support, please, go to your next stop Cuckoo 4 Design.

Also, for other non-profits that support women, go here.

Thanks for stopping by!

Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County – The Gathered Home // The Humane Society – Monica Wants It // Dog Rescues – Cassie Bustamante // Global Fund for Women – Jest Cafe // Peaceable Kingdom – Cuckoo4Design // Buyamba Uganda – House Homemade // Compassion International – The Home I Create // Canadian Premature Babies Foundation – The Learner Observer // The Heart Gallery – Pinterest Addict // Three Angels Children’s Relief – Bright Green Door

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A Talk About Empty Nest Syndrome And How To Deal With It


(Warning: every time I read this interview, I cry, so prepare yourself.)

As a mother, I fear the time when my kids leave – the infamous empty nest syndrome.

I know what you are going to say: “your kids are only 3 and 5, you have so long to go.” True, true, I have lots of years left with them in my house daily, but the reason why I fear the empty nest is not because of the present, but because of what awaits me in the future.

Other women around me always describe this process as one of the saddest events in their lives. I know this has been the case for my mom and other friends, for example, so I am preparing myself. It is NEVER too early, I say, never. Plus, it makes me enjoy my kids so much more right now.

Which brings me to Nikki’s interview. When I was 24, I had the best job of my life, for real. I was a babysitter to the Glicks. I loved that family, the two boys, the parents, the house, the hours, the stress-free environment, and the fun. It was perfection. After a year with them I had to leave to get a real job in the “industry,” which was glamorous but not as fun. Also, highly overrated.

At the time, the youngest boy was 6 year old, close to Victor’s age. Now, all these years later, he and his brother are men who left the nest to find their lives in the world. The youngest one has been gone for more than a year.

Nikki, the mother, is a smart, nice, and very wise friend, so I decided to ask her about her experiences with empty nest. Her answers are precious and heartfelt. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Tell me a little bit about your family.

I am British , born in South Wales . I  also have American Citizenship. I met my husband on the underground in London . He is an American born in the Bronx and is also a duel citizen. Both our boys were born in London. We moved to LA almost 15 yrs ago. My boys are now almost 25 and 19. We have always been a tight unit. We have no family close by. Our closest relatives live on the East coast and London.

 When did your youngest leave your house?

My youngest, Mat, left home for his freshman year of college this time last year, August 0’15. My husband and I travelled with him to  help carry his luggage and settle him into his dorm. We wanted to savor our last moments before returning home without him..We were leaving him on the East Coast .


empty-nest-2I know you suffered from empty nest syndrome, how does it feel?

Unfamiliar. A state I had never felt.  A longing. It envelops you slowly  like a fog as you keep trying to push it away. I felt distracted , hollow, aimless. I was constantly questioning my life and purpose. Tearful.I never anticipated the depth of my missing him.It shook me to my core.I missed my son with every fiber, I missed seeing life through the tinted glow of his young eyes. Most of all I missed his physical presence . I would find myself thinking of all the years that had gone before, seeing both boys as babies and replaying the film over and over in my mind. Home was now something tangibly different. A place I couldn’t imagine without all ‘the sound and fury’ of raising boys.  It was an end of a long, long climb. I needed to process all of this. I was terrified this was my new state as an empty nester.

Did you expect it to be this way?

No. I thought I would be absolutely fine. I loved my independence and I welcomed the thought of getting back to work, develop interests and spend more time with my husband and friends. The future held promise. I had often been away for short breaks and I was always able to enjoy myself. I had no separation anxiety.

How did you deal with it?

I read articles on the subject. I wanted to know if I  was I the only one suffering with these feeling. I got online and hundreds of articles came racing towards me with such force. I was definitely not alone ! I spent a lot of time reading and crying .So many people wrote  on this subject. Heartfelt, uninhibited , gut wrenching honesty. (

I talked with my husband, I read him the stories . He  listened and held me whenever the tears became a flood. He missed Matthew of course but it was evident that his was a different kind of missing, or that he was able to adapt to the new situation and I was struggling. It is important to talk, to ramble, to cry to express and in this way you begin to return to your norm as you recognize it to be. Find someone who listens.

I took up meditation seriously, I now had the time! I found the practice held me in the present instead of looking in the past and worrying about the future. It kept me focused. I read books that absorbed me totally so that I couldn’t think .

I walked a lot and sent texts to Mat, just a few, now and then . When he responded, the fog always lifted. The best was face timing. To see and hear him in the world.  To communicate. Eventually it was time to travel to his college for parents day.  That visit, seeing him and holding him again after ten long weeks, prompted me to fall sobbing into his arms and release a primal, wounded howl that came from some place deep within. My son, camera in hand ready to video the big happy reunion, was forced to slowly lower his phone and hold me lovingly until I could let him go. Once again, this deep animal emotion enveloped me suddenly and terribly. Once again, I had not anticipated this reaction. Where did it come from?

The good news is, from that moment on, I had the realization that my son was alive and well and thriving. He was happy to see us, he hadn’t changed, he was happy, thriving. I began to relax again, possibly breathe again knowing he was on his way and finally , so was I.

I flew back to LA fill up on joy knowing I had been through this strange phenomena and had finally succeeded in pushing it away.

Is there any advice you have for parents that are about to live your same situation?

This is difficult. It reminds me of getting pregnant and everyone who has given birth needs to give you their stories and advice. The truth is, everyone is different . Every pregnancy is different, every baby, every situation. I would say read the articles if you are struggling. It helps to know what others have felt. Prepare a small place in your mind for missing and be ok with that. Perhaps it is best not to dwell on the possibilities that may never arise. If they do, know that you will survive. As the saying goes,’this too must pass’.

Now that a year has gone by, does it feel better?

Absolutely! One hundred percent. I feel enormous happiness whenever my son has a vacation. I look forward to seeing him and when he leaves, he leaves without my anticipating a closing door forever. I see him through the cracks and it feels right. I know the door will soon be open for us all to meet and adjust to this new dynamic once again.

Anything else you would like to add?

Get a dog?


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violence agains women

On Violence Against Women

violence agains womenThere has been a lot of talk about sexual assault against women lately and how to stop this violence. I am not talking about politics,  this topic is much bigger than that.

Weeks ago I read Sex Object from Jessica Valenti. The book is a memoir that explores sexism and the times the author has been mistreated or violated because of her gender. It includes subtle and not very subtle experiences. From her constant fear to be flashed in the metro, to her more personal experiences with boyfriends and older males.

While reading it, something clicked. I started writing on the back page of the book all the times that I have been objectified or assaulted. I never thought to be angry about this. I saw it as a normal part of life and moved on from there.

Since then, I have brought up the subject at many dinner parties only to find out that most of my female friends have been assaulted in some way or another, too. Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? The good news is that, in these conversations, we also agreed that violence against women is going down. At least in this part of the world. We feel safer.

Jessica Valenti agrees. We have it better than our mothers, and our daughters will have it better than us. Awareness is growing. We have better tools to defend ourselves. Women are more empowered not only in the US, but also where I come from, Latin America.

Lately, there has been a beautiful movement in my country, Chile, and other Latin American countries. It started in Argentina, triggered by a violent case of rape and murder in Mar del Plata, an Argentinian city. People, males and females, decided to take a stand to try and stop violence against women.

Thousands and thousands marched for this cause this past Wednesday. My social media feeds have been inundated with images of the #niunamenos (not one less) hashtag. It is beautiful to see.

As sad as these violent events are, we are taking a stand. We are making a difference. There is no better time to be a woman than the present, and it will only get better thanks to movements like this.

Let’s take my life for example, and the huge differences between what I consider my entitlements and those my mother had. My husband and I, for example, have an equal share of household chores, this includes caring for the children; he thrives when I thrive and wants me to succeed; people and men around me take me seriously; I walk down the street without fear; people are respectful. That is a wonderful way to live, but that is not the way most women live in this world. Let’s not forget.

Violence can come in a lot of shapes and forms. Rape and homicide are horrible extremes, but there are other minor actions that are also hurtful and need to stop.

Growing up, I was assaulted, too. I was groped on the street, metro, and bus. I had men making inappropriate advances against my will, and I was (sometimes) disrespected and mistreated because of being a women. That is not right.

But I don’t want to be angry, because there is hope. I see change happening quickly. In less than 50 years we have come so far .

Talking about violence against women is not easy, but important. Only after sharing my experiences with friends I realized I had the right to feel upset. That these advances and situations should not be considered normal and that we need to do something to stop them. In my opinion, silence is interpreted as guilt. By not sharing our experiences, women carry the burden of actions they are not responsible for. This is wrong and needs to change.

Why don’t we start here? If you care to share your experiences and opinions, I would really like to hear.

Have a great and thoughtful weekend! 🙂

Image Source The Guardian


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What do you find attractive in a guy (or girl)?

jestcafe-com-attractive-menMy friend Paloma was visiting last week and we got to talk about what we found attractive in guys; those traits that transform an average men (or women) into a 9 or 10. She told me that her number one measurement of sexiness is music. If a guy knows how to play an instrument his sex appeal goes up a million points in her world.

I have been thinking about this, trying to figure out what are my preferences. I like big hands, for example. I like big and masculine guys. Tattoo with beard kind of guys. I find that sexy. Another one of my friends likes big noses and deep voices.

But, aside from the obvious physical attraction, there are personality attributes that are important. For me, is important that a guy is smart and knowledgeable about the world. Guys that are intellectual without being BORING because I like to learn things from my partner while laughing and drinking a martini. We have also talked in this blog about how sexy handy men are, don’t you think?

But the one thing I find the most attractive is sense of humor. If a guy knows how to make me laugh and is able to laugh at himself, I am IN. I think that is the sexiest thing a guy can do for me. Be funny. Also, with humor comes self-confidence, another must-have, don’t you think?

What about you? Is there any of the traits I mentioned above attractive for you? Or any other qualities come to mind? I am so curious.

(Images by Andy Gotts, because George Clooney is the ultimate sexy man, don’ you agree?)


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