IRVING PARK — A family company that specializes in unique flan flavors is bringing their creations to three Northwest Side grocery stores.
FlanBoyan’s co-owners and cousins Angie Feliciano and Stefanie Garcia launched their company in 2016. In October, they signed a deal to have their flan featured at Tony’s Fresh Market locations in Irving Park, Portage Park and Logan Square.
Feliciano is the main pastry chef while Garcia spearheads the company’s business side, but the pair said they end up doing a little bit of everything as they continue to grow FlanBoyan.
The cousins walked around the Irving Park area one weekend placing flyers on cars to let neighbors know their flan is available at Tony’s.
“It’s us doing everything,” Feliciano said. “We’re buying the ingredients. We started off doing the deliveries but now we have a company that does that for us. But we’re still delivering our flan to Tony’s and doing in-store demos there, too.”
The cousins will host two events showcasing their flan Saturday at the Tony’s outposts. The first is at 11 a.m. at the Portage Park store and then at 12 p.m. at the Logan Square location.
FlanBoyan has its vanilla, coconut, pistachio, choco and cafe con leche flavors at Tony’s. They sell a wider range of flan flavors on their website, including choco mint and ube, as well as seasonal flavors like pumpkin and coquito around the fall and winter holidays.
“It’s also different because we hand burn our sugar for the caramel,” Feliciano said. “So the caramel is fresh and from not a pre-made mix. And we don’t use artificial, processed ingredients. We use natural fruits and things like that.”
The cousins bake the flan out of a commercial kitchen in LaGrange. New flavors often come from them joking around while working together and listening to salsa or reggaeton music, Garcia said.
“We’re like sisters that are always together and now we’re business partners. And she’s the godmother to my daughter,’” Garcia said. “So you can tell we’re close.”
Goofing around while they work is how the pair came up with choco mint for Valentine’s Day last year, they said. Once they’ve figured out a flavor and recipe they like, they’ll workshop it with their harshest critics: their family.
“Angie and I are really picky about our flan. If we don’t like it, there’s no way we’re going to sell it. It has to taste amazing to us first,” Garcia said. “And our family is brutal. They don’t hold anything back.”
The cousins grew up in Humboldt Park and Hermosa. Feliciano learned how to make flan from helping out her mother who also had a flair for experimenting with new flavors when baking cakes, cupcakes and other desserts, she said.
Feliciano started bringing her creations to family events, and by 2011, became a vendor at Riis Park’s Festival Cubano, she said.
“I was a little hesitant at first because I’d never served such a large amount of people. But I went ahead and did it and got a lot of clientele out of that,” Feliciano said.
Keeping the flan at the right temperature before serving it during a Chicago summer festival was challenging. That’s when Feliciano recruited Garcia to help her run the booth, they said.
Garcia was finishing her MBA around that time and told Feliciano it might be a good idea to expand her hobby into a full-time business.
The cousins launched FlanBoyan during Carnival’s Salsa Cruise that travels from Miami, Florida to Cozumel, Mexico, Feliciano said. The trip was initially going be a Feliciano’s birthday trip with friends, but the cousins realized the people taking the cruise were their target market, she said.
The pair approached the salsa cruise coordinator with their idea of debuting their new company’s flan during the trip. The cruise official loved that the business is owned by young Latina entrepreneurs, Feliciano said.
“She reached out to management at Carnival Cruise lines who gave us the green light, and we had two weeks to come up with our ideas for the launch,” Feliciano said.
The company’s name comes from where Feliciano’s father was born in Puerto Rico, she said.
Peñuelas is known as the valley of the Flamboyan trees. Feliciano’s brothers came up with the idea to switch one letter from ‘m’ to ’n’ to create FlanBoyan for the company’s name, the cousins said.
The Tony’s deal is the cousins’ second time retailing at a grocery store. The company sold their flan at Armitage Produce in Logan Square in 2020 to “get their feet wet” with the logistics of supplying a grocery store, Feliciano said.
The cousins contracted with Tony’s because of the company’s clustered locations on the Northwest Side.
While shoppers can find other flan from other larger companies at grocery stores, FlanBoyan offers different flavors, variety and quality, Garcia said.
“People aren’t used to a premium flan like we’re doing that tastes homemade. We’re kind of the first in our space,” Garcia said.
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