El Compañero Leynes

I arrived at Panadería y Café Santa Clara in the morning and went up to their terrace for a great chat with El Compañero—its owner.

What is your full name? 

I’ll tell you how I present myself: My name is Compañero, and Francisco Alejandro Vásquez Laynes is my nickname. I was born on December 28, 1962 in La Antigua Guatemala, I have lived here all my life and I hope to die here.

How did the term “partner” come about? 

For 36 years I have practiced as a teacher, my idea is always to excel, to be different; I always try the way people remember me when they see me again. That was how in 1982 the “partner” was born, because I didn’t want to be another “teacher” or another “profe”. I started calling my students “compañero”, to have a close relationship with them. Asking my students – and even my workers – a favor, calling them a partner, the deal is better and the relationship as well. Friendly words open doors. And so the partner was born, to make bonds with students, workers, colleagues.

How was the transition from teaching to what is nowadays La Panadería Santa Clara? 

Pure economic necessity. Being a teacher has filled me with many satisfactions, of joys, of sharing with the youth. It gives me great joy to always hear in the street “compañero!” The greetings of my students, the ex-students. I always thought that my passing through teaching was going to be ephemeral, I always thought that I was going to stop teaching classes and every year I said that the next year ‘I was going to leave’. And I missed many job opportunities along the way.

One day,  15 years ago, I was lying on the grass on a farm in Acatenango with my daughters, it was late November and we were watching the sky, most relaxing; and I started to do a self-analysis and I thought: ‘what am I doing to change my life?’ I enjoyed being a teacher, but financially speaking, I lived very tight. And that morning I was there thinking about my life, I realized that I did nothing to change. I’m already 40 and my health is gone and if I do not do something now, I thought at that moment, I’ll never do it.

And the economic need was the one that made me make a change. So in November I gathered my bonuses and thought of reselling bread, or a comal to sell tortillas; and I ran into a childhood friend who had bakery equipment. I thinking of reselling something for a living and then the story changed completely. Then I had to tell my girls that for Christmas there were not going to be gifts or clothes because we were going to start a bakery and my daughters were happy.

When we started, we were a baker, my dad -who had worked making bread- and myself.

We spent 10 years two houses way from here and five years ago we moved here where we are now.

What advice would you give to young people, according to your experience over these years, to be entrepreneurs?

The first thing I would tell them to do is define what they like, what are their dreams are. Second, to look at their surroundings, see what is needed and how they can cover the need; that is important. Based on that, one catches a dream and one becomes passionate. The problem is when people just want to make money and do things that do not even go with them, and then it becomes a sacrifice. Or people only look at a situation from one point of view, to make it look better than it is. Pursue your dreams, don’t lose them and always have a very clear view of where you want to go and what you want to achieve.

Escrito por: Julissa Carrillo

Traducido por: Melissa Schroden 



Panadería y Café Santa Clara

2a Avenida Sur #18


Fb: /panaderia.cafe.santaclara

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