We are launching our East LA BusinessSource Center client highlight series. In honor of 2023 Women’s History Month, we would like to introduce you to an amazing entrepreneur and business owner: Corissa Hernandez, co-founder and visionary of Legacy Full Circle Financial & Insurance Services, The Empire Tavern in Burbank, House of Xelas in Boyle Heights, and Nativo in Highland Park.
Corissa says, “We embrace Boyle Heights with love and a spirit of inclusiveness and kindness, with a friendly staff & the best local DJ’s & bands Los Angeles has to offer.”
The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Corissa began her career as a middle school teacher after earning degrees at Cal Poly Pomona and UCLA. Working as a Los Angeles public school teacher during the height of the great recession inspired Corissa to launch her first mission-driven company.
In 2007, Corissa and her partners opened Legacy Full Circle, a company dedicated to educating low to middle-income families about financial literacy and planning. Inspired to fill gaps in her community, she then opened three craft beer & cocktail businesses over the next four years, establishing herself as one of the few female forces in a predominantly male industry. Her bars have been featured prominently in print and online publications, including the Los Angeles Times, ABC VistaLA, LA Magazine, EaterLA, Telemundo, and UCLA Magazine.
House of Xelas in Boyle Heights is a dream project for Hernández, who calls the neighborhood her “heart and soul.” The name comes from chelas, the Mexican slang word for beer, but the “X” was incorporated to give it a modern, Nahuatl-inspired twist. Hernández says, “I’m a very proud child of immigrant parents. I learned hard work and drive. My parents worked a lot, so my grandmother was like a second mom. And growing up with her, I learned a lot of very beautiful traditions in Mexican culture.”
When Hernández’s grandparents left Mexico with their seven children, they came to the L.A. area and eventually found a welcoming community in Boyle Heights. So although Hernández herself was raised between La Puente and Chino Hills, she has always wanted to return and give back to her family’s spiritual home in the U.S. “I always said, ‘If I ever can open a business, I want it to be in Boyle Heights’ — something to give back as a thank you for the opportunity to start our family in the United States,” she says. She built Xelas to reflect the deep love and admiration she has for the community. Her intention was to open a restaurant that would have a positive impact on the neighborhood by creating a safe space and more career opportunities for bipoc and by hosting fundraisers and events that benefit our neighborhood.
Never losing sight of the importance of giving back, Corissa has partnered with over a hundred aspiring chefs and restaurateurs of color. Drawing from her own experience as a first-generation college student and Latina entrepreneur, she takes pride in creating opportunities for entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities unfamiliar with the competitive landscape of business ownership.
You may connect with Corissa by following her on social media or visiting her businesses and seeing for yourself, how she brings the meaning of community to life.
@corissahernandez on Instagram and Linkedin.