June 6, 2023

Celebration was the spark that grew into the beautifully designed and functional food serving sphere that launched Sandra Portal-Andrew’s business, Tappas. With a background in choreography, Sandra knew that process and collaboration was everything in creating a perfect product. After several years of development, the multi-tiered sphere that saves space on your table and serves as a stunning centerpiece was born. Read on to learn more about Sandra’s inspiration, her commitment to a sustainable future, and the importance of staying on course.

Sandra Portal-Andrew Creator of Tappas

From the beginning, Tappas has brought many individuals to the table, contributing their expertise and insights. Their support has encouraged me along the way, igniting the flame to pursue my vision, and become an entrepreneur.

Why did you start your business? What motivated or inspired you?

At Tappas, celebrating family and creativity is our priority. As an artist and mother of two boys, I am inspired by my Cuban/Colombian roots, and my community. I encourage my sons to take in the richness in diversity that surrounds them and let that inspire them to tap into their artistic abilities. That’s how our story began.

Traditionally, my mother always has a “tapas” table for every gathering. Plates with small portions of snacks and appetizers are one of the ways we welcome our guests. One evening at my parents house, my mother set up her table, but this time, it had way too many plates and I thought, “If there were only a container with multiple levels that could display food, one would have a unique centerpiece and perhaps, less plates to wash.”

The next day, I began to draw and did an extensive research but found nothing that looked like what I had in mind. I shared the idea with my family and Tappas was born!

Despite my lack of knowledge in product development and engineering, I knew the power of process based on my background in the performing arts and education. I knew that my strengths were in bringing sound-minded individuals together to collaborate and build an idea using grassroots approaches.

Five years later, this simple drawing became a final product. In October 2020, we launched our product on Amazon and sold out for the holidays! Since then, we have sold over 1000 units of our sphere and this year, we are working to introduce a new product to complement our line.

From the beginning, Tappas has brought many individuals to the table, contributing their expertise and insights. Their support has encouraged me along the way, igniting the flame to pursue my vision, and become an entrepreneur.

Tappas Banner reading: 'Brining People to the Table'

What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you started your business?

MARKETING IS EVERYTHING! (editor’s note: We couldn’t agree more!)

Why did you decide to join The WMarketplace?

I loved the concept of being in a space that is women-owned, -led, and -focused.

What has been the most challenging thing about getting your business up and running?

One of my choreographic mentors once told me, "Artmaking can be a lonely place". I think the same applies in running a business. We often get stuck in the everyday tasks and sometimes forget to see the success we have had. In the beginning, my biggest challenge was making sure that our product was well-crafted. I am stickler for perfection and tend to be a bit OCD on details. I want our products to be about quality rather than quantities.

What has been the most exciting or rewarding part of owning your own business?

I love the reaction that people have when they see my product. That part will never get old to me. But in running a business, I love the flexibility that I have. It helps when juggling kids and activities to be able to work around their schedules.

Can you identify a moment in your business that was pivotal in your success? Have you had an “AHA!” moment(s)?

There have been a couple of those moments, but the most recent was when I decided to design our new platter. When we received the samples, they were gorgeous and we knew that we needed to add this to the collection. We believe these will be a HIT with customers and we can't wait to launch them.

How long have you been in business and has your business changed since you started it?

We registered our business in 2018, but we launched in the Fall of 2020. Since then, we have just focused on our signature product. This year, we are working to bring a new platter design to the market to expand our catalog and offer new products to our current and future customers.

Connect with your tribe. Don't be afraid to reach out to friends and family who have the expertise you lack. You're not supposed to know everything but luckily you may have people around you that can help you.

Do you have a mentor, formal or informal? What role have they played for you?

Yes. They have helped provide insight on everything from my company information packets to giving me things to consider when speaking to a potential buyer/partner. I really appreciate having an ear when I need questions answered.

What communities have been important for you as you grew/developed your business?

One of the best experiences was being part of the Babson WIN Lab. The cohort of over 30 female entrepreneurs was exactly what I needed when we were in our first year in sales. A few of us still get together to talk about our business and give each other suggestions or ideas. It was such a great way to connect with women that are going through the everyday highs and lows of owning a business.

Do you have items, photos or mementos on your desk that inspire you each day? What are they?

In my computer bag, I carry an envelope of photos of my family. One of them is of my father heading to work and another is a picture of my brother and I pretending to "fix" old computers. These pictures of my family bring me joy and hope because as immigrants, they were able to build a life here that has laid the foundation for me.

In addition, I have this popsicle stick with a message stamped on it from a fellow artist who makes her signature "bubble-pops". Everyone gets their own special message. The one that I have says "learn to be patient, because sometimes things don't happen right away". It's a nice reminder to stay on course and trust that the work you do will come to fruition

Do you have any advice for other women who are getting started in business?

Connect with your tribe. Don't be afraid to reach out to friends and family who have the expertise you lack. You're not supposed to know everything but luckily you may have people around you that can help you.

If a journalist were to write a headline about you/your business, what would it be?

How a choreographer designed a product that dances on people's tables!

Are there any apps or business services that you just can’t live without that you would like to give a shout-out to?

Quickbooks app! It's so easy to use and get all expenses and revenues organized.

Is there a non-profit or other social/mission-oriented business that your business supports? Can you tell us about this?

At Tappas, we are committed to paying it forward by supporting local non-profits with missions to promote climate action initiatives and education in communities. We strive to be the brand that promotes sustainable social gatherings by creating products that are made from fast-growing woods and working closely with factories that provide equal employment and fair wages.

Since 2022, we have partnered with Dream in Green, a non-profit organization that promotes climate resilience education for K-12 students in South Florida. By donating a portion of our sales to Dream in Green, we are able to support their mission of promoting STEAM education and sustainability in our community. We are committed to ensure that our youth will have the education, tools, and experience to protect, nurture, and appreciate South Florida’s delicate ecosystem which includes the Everglades, Big Cypress Forest, and Biscayne Bay.

Thank you, Sandra, for sharing your advice and journey with the WMarketplace!


Launched in 2020, TheWMarketplace is a nationwide e-commerce marketplace for women-owned businesses to sell their products and professional and personal services. Offering favorable terms to its sellers, it also is a supportive community of women entrepreneurs that have access to learning opportunities through the trademarked HER-Commerce™ programs. With over 500 women-owned businesses selling 4000+ products and services ranging from home goods to coaching, in over 35 states, TheWMarketplace empowers shoppers with a new way to find the communities they want to support, including Black-woman owned, Latina-owned, AAPI-owned, Veteran woman-owned, and more. The Her Story Q&A is one benefit TheWMarketplace provides to sellers.

Her Story: Sandra Portal-Andreu of Tappas®