In the back of her Rogers Park boutique, Dulceria la Fiesta, Reyna Gonzalez spends hours carefully assembling party essentials that are born to be broken.
“We break them just to see what we create. And if they’re brittle and if they’re too loose or too hard, because you have to be perfect,” Gonzalez explained. “Because it’s for children. If they can’t break it, the candies don’t fall.
Traditional piñatas aren’t hard to find in Chicago. But if you’re looking for a design that’s a little off the beaten path, Gonzalez says she can make just about anything out of cardboard and crepe — from unicorns and superheroes to art icons and micheladas from 8 feet tall.
Like his designs, Gonzalez and his shop have taken a few hits. The former accountant left a 20-year career to start her own business in 2018.
“I’m just tired of the cubicle, the long hours in the office, you know, the emails, the phone calls. So I said to my husband, well there’s always parties, there’s always celebrations. I think it will be a good business to get into,” she said.
But just as the party was getting started, disaster struck the fledgling party store.
“In 2018, Christmas burned down. We were like 20, 21 days in the store and it was just completely gone. We just kind of had to pick up where we left off.
The rebuild took nearly two years, but Gonzalez hung on. She used the time to self-learn the skill that ended up creating a niche for her store, a process she says was learned through internet tutorials and lots of trial and error.
Although Gonzalez admits the timing of Dulceria La Fiesta’s return could have been better — the July 2020 launch landed right in the middle of the pandemic — she says social media has helped customers looking for the right piñata to find her.
We actually have a lot of people from Wisconsin, Harvey, Indiana, Waukegan, you know, just for piñatas because we can custom, you know, because it’s “oh, we can’t find that anywhere, you know, my daughter really wants that.
And after a tough few years for gatherings, Gonzalez says she hopes people will be ready to party again in 2022.
“The best feeling is when the kids get so excited when they see it, because you’re like, oh, I created this. It’s not a party if you don’t have a piñata!