Eric Fuentes is a father of two, devoted husband, intermittent children’s soccer coach, vice president of the board for the Greater Lansing Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and born business owner. Tired of grinding away, he decided to break mold, follow his passion; starting his own business with his brother-in-law, Juan Hernandez.
Fuentes’ parents owned a local restaurant, Ramon’s Mexican Restaurant on Washington Avenue in REO Town, while he was growing up, so he gained an understanding of the world of business at a young age.
“With my parents being entrepreneurs, and having that spirit already as a young kid, I always wanted to own a business, but I wasn’t sure what it was going to be.”
After obtaining a manager of information systems degree from Central Michigan University, Fuentes got a job alongside Hernandez at Auto-Owners Insurance. It wasn’t long before they collaboratively envisioned their soon-to-be real business venture.
“We would talk about what would be funny on a tee, and we’d have all these ideas and then we just started to put them on print and tried selling them online, and one thing led to another other,” said Fuentes. “We saw that there was a lot of promise to this little side gig so we decided we were going to try to give it all our effort.”
Using some background in IT they resourcefully launched a storefront online; now known as FlavoredThreads.com. Thanks to an aptitude for networking, a good sense of humor and natural creativity the duo bloomed. Since launching they’ve developed a strong clientle base that includes Common Ground Music Festival, Lost Tres Amigos and Lansing Brewing Company – allowing each organization to customize apparel.
Looking back, Fuentes expresses gratefulness to his wife, Sonia, his family and the friends that supported him in following his dreams. Not only did they allow him positive and encouraging perspectives, they also played a role in expansion – pushing the brand further via word of mouth.
Today Fuentes thrives on being his own boss. “Freedom and creativity is one of the best parts [of owning a business]. I get to go be with my kids, pick them up from school and attend these middle of the day events that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to attend. I wouldn’t be able to do so unless I had a flexible schedule.” Separating business from family is important to the husband and father; it’s no easy feat but Fuentes has found a rhythm that satisfies the needs of both.