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You might’ve seen Tragos first on Facebook or Instagram. Maybe you heard about Tragos from a friend, or just been given no choice in playing it at someone’s house one game night. Regardless of how you discovered it, Tragos is the work of a team of Latinas (and one Korean) that have hustled for three years to bring you the ultimate latinx drinking game. Let me tell you how we started…
My name is Carolina Acosta. I’m a native New Yorker from Queens, daughter of a Colombian mother and a Dominican father. When people hear this, they often say,“¡Ay, pura candela! That combo is fire!”, but the truth is that for a long time I didn't feel that Hispanic at all, let alone pura candela.
My first language was Spanish, but at four years old I put it to the side to try and catch up to my classmates who already knew English. Once I became fluent en inglés, I never wanted to speak Spanish again. More on that later.
2018 is when my appreciation for my culture started. That year, I finally got the opportunity to go to one of my parent’s countries, Colombia, for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect going in, but I came back from that trip in love. Despite my choppy Spanish, and a foreign understanding of the culture, I felt so at home in Colombia. The people, the air, the food– it was the first time I felt proud of my roots. República Dominicana, hold up, I’m coming for you soon!
After I came home from my trip, I felt moved by Colombia and was so eager to go back. I started manifesting, telling everyone who would listen that I would go back very soon and eventually live there if I could. Instagram must have heard me because one day it showed me an ad for a remote work program that consisted of living in South America for 4 months. I knew an experience like this would change my life, but never did I think it would bring me Tragos.
When Tragos, the Latinx Drinking Game began
Fast forward to a couple months later when I was living in Peru, the first destination in the remote work program, and where I met John Lim. John is a Korean-American from Maryland (who also just made Forbes 30 Under 30, yay!). We immediately bonded over our work, both in the creative marketing and design fields, and over our ethnic backgrounds. We were of the very few minority reps in a group of about 25 people, so naturally we bonded over strict mothers, drawers full of plastic bags, and other cultural similarities we shared. It wasn’t all work, we also had a hella good time partying in South America.
Find us!About five months later, we were working together as freelancers back in the U.S. when he called one day and asked me if a cultural drinking game was a good idea. Still missing South America, I immediately thought, *gasp* What a great way to unite our ethnic cultures with our American one! I knew I wanted to play something like this and jumped at the chance to help John develop the idea.
Using my graphic design experience, I started by creating the branding and websites of both brands, one for Azn Flush, the party game for Asians, and Tragos, of course, the party game for Latinos. With John’s marketing experience, we started running Facebook ads and waited for the magic to happen.
We launched both our products by offering preorders, where people could buy the product now, knowing it would ship later. It was a little scary at first because I felt like I was robbing people; I didn’t have a product yet! There was no cash, no parent’s help, no business loan for two 25-year olds that were even taking a gamble at putting those first ads on their credit cards. But after about 200 preorders, I took the sales and invested them into the first prototype of Tragos. I had friends from all different backgrounds help come up with content to make 110 cards that almost any Hispanic could relate to. Thank you Aralis, Veronica, Karina, Kevin, Daliza, Juan, Martha, and John for helping make Tragos Original!
I ordered a batch of 500 units, and it sold out in a few months. I then hesitantly placed an order for 1000 units. I was nervous. My parents were nervous. They said, “cool that you’re doing this, but please don’t quit your design career.”
At the same time, I was also really excited! It wasn’t even the money that was exciting, it was the fact that people were using these cards for their own game nights, posting on social media and most importantly, feeling seen. The comments on social were everything for me.
I just couldn’t believe that there were so many others that felt the same as I did. Hispanic-Americans constantly feeling insufficient in one culture over the other, but wanting someone or something to tell them that you can be both in your own way, regardless of how well you speak Spanish or how familiar you are with your parents' country. Thanks to Tragos, I feel like my dual identity can exist without feeling shame for any part of who I am. It’s also helped with my Spanish, so I can’t lie, that does feel good.
First major batch of inventory (8,000 units took over my living room)
Since that first batch of 500 units, we’ve sold over 80,000 Tragos games and products! I’ve left out all the challenges, milestones, and lessons that have come with this journey, but I’m excited to share so much more of it with you! Stay tuned for more and subscribe to the newsletter below to find out when our next posts are published.
One thing I’d like for anyone to take away from my story is that I chased a passion project by creating this Tragos drinking game, despite not knowing much about starting a new business or selling a product. And I'm still learning how to do new things every single day, including making TikToks (btw, are you following Tragos on Tiktok?) 😊
Latinos have become one of the fastest growing demographics of small businesses owners. So I hope mi historia inspires you or someone you know to take that chance, ¡porque sí se puede! 💪
Talk to you soon,
I love your journey and how you and your friend have come up with this idea and just went with it and tragos bloomed from it. I own it but don’t have many latino/a friends to be able to play them with so at the moment it’s on a stand by. My daughter has played them more with her friends than I have with mine lol and she is the one who came across your add in the first place and wanted the game and hence me being able to gift them to her. all versions to be exact and i have a copy for each of us too. keep them coming and adding more and more stuff.