By Salvador Cerna
According to the World History Encyclopedia, “A mandala (Sanskrit for “circle”) is an artistic representation of higher thought and deeper meaning given to a geometric symbol used in spiritual, emotional, or psychological work to focus one’s attention.” The encyclopedia also states that mandalas can be traced to Hindu texts from 1500 to 500 BCE. However, they are not unique to Hinduism since they are found in cultures worldwide.
The artistic inspiration of the mandala is drawn from the circle, which represents the individual. The complex patterns, various colors, intricate designs, and symbols of each mandala symbolize the complexities of each individual and their differences. As such, no two mandalas are alike, just as no two individuals are alike. These forms of artistic expression are found in Hindu, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish religious cultures.
Mandala is also the name of a local cafe that recently opened along Pilsen’s main commercial corridor. Its public grand opening took place in mid-August, with a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by ESDC on September 7th. Evelin Maroldt and Nhedia Arocha are the proud owners of the new cafe, located at 1641 W. 18th Street. Ask the owners why they chose that name, and they will tell you, “We loved the name and its mystic meaning of inner peace. When people come to the coffee shop, we want them to feel positive vibes, unity, equilibrium, and harmony. We want their visit to be a therapeutic experience.”
Approximately four years ago, Evelyn and Nhedia immigrated from Venezuela to Chicago for political and economic reasons. They were also business owners in their home country and dreamed about opening a business in the neighborhood: “We always knew that we wanted to open our own business here in Pilsen. It is where we settled when we first arrived from Venezuela.” They added, “We knew it would take some time since we needed to gather the capital to invest.”
If you ask them whether they consider their cafe to be a women-owned-business, they will affirm– “Absolutely! But we are also a family business, because we depend on the support and contribution of our close family members. Our children, spouses, parents, and in-laws have all supported us at every level.”
Both owners will tell you that their high-quality South-American coffee makes Mandala unique and different. “As soon as you enter our doors, you will be dazzled by the aromas of the best coffee from Brazil, Costa Rica, and Colombia. Our customers can attest to it,” they added, “But there are also our Venezuelan handmade baked goods, like our cachitos made with bacon and ham, and our mini-sandwiches.”
These two local business owners took advantage of the programs and services offered by their local economic development organization: “Most recently, we have received accounting and marketing support from ESDC/SBDC. They helped us with our official grand opening and connected us with other small businesses in the area. Our relationship with ESDC/SBDC has saved us time and money.” When asked what the future of Mandala is, they both agreed that it is expansion. “We want the Mandala coffee brand to be well known.”
Their recommendation to new entrepreneurs is to be resilient: “Don’t be defeated by negativity. Yes, opening a new business is challenging work. It takes time, and it demands that you stay focused. It requires capital for investment, seeking the right resources, and obtaining trustful advice.” They add, “It is important to look for the support of a non-profit organization like ESDC/SBDC and take advantage of the services they offer. If you do, you will save time and money at the end of the day.”
Their recommendation to new entrepreneurs is to be resilient: “Don’t be defeated by negativity. Yes, opening a new business is challenging work. It takes time, and it demands that you stay focused. It requires capital for investing, seeking the right resources, and obtaining trustful advice.” They add, “It is important to look for the support of a non-profit organization like ESDC/SBDC and take advantage of the services they offer. If you do, you will save time and money at the end of the day.”
References: Mark, Joshua J. 2020. “Mandala.” World History Encyclopedia. https://www.worldhistory.org/mandala/.