Across the street from our office in Miraflores is a little teahouse known as ‘La Matilda.’ The only way you know it’s there is because of the green door that’s always open when they are open for business.
To walk into the teahouse is to take a step back in time; it’s like walking into a time machine. There’s no elaborate sign outside the door; just a hand-written message on a black chalkboard that reads, “La Matilda.”
La Matilda was born out of a dream that the owners, Carla Rizo Patrón and Fernanda Margasin, have always had of owning a welcoming shop to offer delicious treats and sweets to the world.
The place has a vintage and friendly vibe. It’s an ode to a simpler time when people would sit down to enjoy a nice conversation along with a cup of tea and a snack.
The teahouse offers twenty varieties of teas, along with an assortment of cakes, cookies, chocolates, coffee, and Argentine maté. They also sell a line of custom-made home goods, kitchen linens, aprons, and tablecloths. On top of that, they also have a small antique shop inside the café. Did I mention they do this all in a space of about 250-square-feet?
Fernanda Margasin showing some of the quirky antique items they have for sale.(photo: Diego M. Ortiz)
“We wanted to open a place where people felt like they were at home,” Margasin said. “Our tea shop and store is different than a coffee house, it’s a small, cozy and inviting place.”
Rizo Patrón and Margasin met while traveling around the country. Rizo Patrón is Peruvian and Margasin is from Argentina. They both have a lot of common interests like a vintage style, a love of interior design, yoga, and baking.
This is the first time that either business partner has begun a venture like this one. But they are approaching their business with a philosophy of learning from, and embracing, the little things.
“We wanted a small place because it was a new project and we had a small budget,” Margasin said. “This is the first time we launched a business and we wanted to make sure we could handle it.”
The size of La Matilda also goes with the feel of the shop, and according to Margasin, it gives them room to grow.
The shop opened just six months ago, but they already have a strong following.
At first it was mostly friends and people who grew to like their baking from the days when they would set up a stand at fairs around the city. Currently, the teahouse serves about 40-50 customers per day.
The owners thought the place might be “too girlie.” But now they attract customers of both sexes and all ages.
“We’ve been lucky in that we were able to create a place where everyone feels welcomed,” Margasin said.
They approach the business much in the way the shop is decorated: combining many different styles and influences along with an incredible attention to detail.
After six months in business, they’ve learned a few things.
They keep costs down by opening only at peak hours such as from early afternoon to late evenings. For example, after analyzing their productivity they’ve saved a lot of money on employee salary and utility bills by not opening until 1 p.m. on weekdays.
“We’re at an important junction for the business,” Margasin said. “We want to keep growing, but we also want to preserve the cozy feel that we’ve built here.”
Before they start expanding, they want to strengthen what they already have.
Right now they have 6 employees—three in the kitchen and three in the front.
“We want to dream and aim big,” she said. “At the same time, we like having a small shop. What we’re doing right now is planting our roots.”
The owners of La Matilda say that though they are focused on this location that’s only six months old, if they ever decided to expand or open a second store they never want to lose their charm.
“I’ve seen businesses grow so big that they can’t handle their own success,” Margasin said. “We want to continue offering the best service. So we’re comfortable moving at our own speed—little by little.”
The two entrepreneurs say they’ve had a lot of luck in their short time. But they also say they’ve created a lot of their own luck by staying out of their own way.
Rizo Patron’s aunt, Matilde, who also owned a small café many years ago, inspired the shop’s name. They added a “la” in front to make it more original.
To learn more about this unique store visit their Facebook page: “La Matilda- almacén de cosas ricas y bonitas.” Or visit the shop to experience it for yourself: Av. Dos de Mayo 535, Miraflores.