Soledad Rocha is the true example of a Latina who has worked hard her whole life so everyone around her is taken care of. Born in Puebla, Mexico, Soledad moved to California 30 years ago looking for a way to provide for her family. Now, thanks to success of her community food stand, a recycling business, and yard sales, Soledad has been able to do that and more.
She's passed her work ethic, discipline, and perseverance on to her children, who have grown to achieve outstanding academic success. One of her daughters graduated from Georgetown University, and another, Sandra, is currently attending Yale. “She’s been the one who’s taught me and all my siblings to be better people,” Sandra gushed to POPSUGAR about her mom.
And while her kids have spread their wings and gone on to achieve amazing things, Soledad echó raíces en su vecindario and has built a sense of community within her neighborhood through her cooking, becoming a beacon of support among the neighbors who have become family to her.
A normal day for her consists of waking up at 5 a.m., and after she drops off her younger children at school, she stops by the market to buy everything she needs to cook that day. She returns home around 9:30 a.m., drinks her cafecito, makes some breakfast for herself, and starts prepping the food.
All the food she makes is traditional from her native Puebla and made from scratch. "We cook everything at home," Soledad told POPSUGAR. "Champiñones, huitlacoche, pollo en tinga, everything." She added that her community is especially keen on her tacos, huaraches, cemitas, quesadillas, tacos dorados de papa, tostadas, traditional Mexican milk jello, and aguas frescas, so those frequent the menu.
Soledad loves what she does, and she's determined to continue serving her community. "I feel so happy, so connected to my barrio," she said. "Feeling how grateful everyone is for what I do is what fulfills me; it satisfies me. I want to keep cooking and selling food for as long as I can."
"My daughters think I work too much, but I don't consider myself a hard-working mom. This is what I had to do in life, and I'm happy about it. I'm always happy about what I do." It's because of this selfless attitude and willingness to put her community first that her daughter Sandra nominated Soledad for a holiday surprise, including a day of beauty at Ulta Beauty that she would never forget. Like her daughter, Ulta Beauty was inspired by Soledad’s selflessness and wanted to recognize her for both her inner and outer beauty with a day of self-care and relaxation.
First, Soledad was shocked to come home one day to see her apartment completely decorated for the holidays. Festive decor is usually the last thing on her mind, since it's such a busy season for her. She was overcome with emotion and amazed at how beautiful everything looked.
The next big surprise was a day of beauty at Ulta Beauty to celebrate this well-deserving mom and provide her with a day of pampering. When she arrived at the store, a team of professionals greeted her, took time to get to know her, and asked her all her likes and dislikes to customize the experience just for her. They gave her the works — a brow wax, a facial, makeup application, haircut, and blowout. "I loved it! I had never gotten a facial before, but I enjoyed it a lot and was thrilled with the results!" Soledad said.
"I'm not used to wearing makeup, so I opted for something simple and natural, like me. Nothing too extra, but I felt like the most beautiful woman!" Hearing so many compliments from those around her gave Soledad a confidence she felt she lost.
And just when she thought her day had come to an end, Ulta Beauty made her holiday wish come true. "My perfect Christmas would be to be surrounded by my community," she said. So after her day of beauty, Soledad was surprised with a dinner party with her neighborhood familia. "We all see her as light in the neighborhood," Sandra said about Soledad. "There’s a lot of hardships going on within her life, but aside from that, she manages to be so strong in a way that’s very inspiring for all of us.”
"When I walked in and saw my barrio there, all the people that have been with me through the good times and the bad, I could only say, 'Wow!' I was overwhelmed, beyond happy." She continued, "It was so beautiful, so heartfelt! When I walked in, I only expected my daughters to be there, but then I saw everyone there and I thought, 'Aquí sigue el desmadre!'"
It was the perfect culmination of a day tailored for one of the most selfless women you'll meet. A woman who left her country to look for better opportunities in order to give her family the life they deserved. Today, los frutos de su trabajo are visible with a community who couldn't imagine its life without her and successful children who continue to carry on Soledad's legacy. Despite all the hardships, all the hard work, and all the early mornings and late nights, Soledad's efforts have paid off, and everyone has gotten to know this strong, hard-working woman whose beauty radiates from the inside out.
She finally got a glimpse of that beauty that has captivated so many around her, and now that she's seen it, she'll never forget it. “I feel beautiful. It’s a beauty I never knew I carried within me.”