Alumni and Friends Directory

Maharba Zapata

Maharba Zapata

Title: Founder and Owner

Company: The Salsa Queen

Huntsman School Interactions:

Entrepreneur Leadership Series Speaker - February 5, 2020


Maharba Zapata started Salsa Queen in 2014 as a single mother in order to provide for her 7 children. Since then, Salsa Queen has quickly grown into the largest regional producer of fresh, gourmet salsas in more than 100 stores throughout Utah and Idaho.

Maharba immigrated to the US with her family when she was still a teenager and spoke no English. When her first child was born, she spent 11 months practically living at the Children’s Hospital after he was diagnosed with leukemia and unfortunately, he passed away. Following a divorce, she found herself needing to provide for her seven children without any work experience or even a high school degree. It was important that her new business reflect her love of cooking and cultural background, which is how Salsa Queen was born.

Initial orders were generated from Facebook postings. She and her children would make the salsas around their small kitchen in their Magna house. On Saturday, she would drive to various parking lots throughout the Salt Lake valley and meet up with the buyers. Knowing that there was a market for her gourmet products, she applied to various farmers’ markets and was accepted into the Wheeler Farms Farmers’ Market. At the end of her first season, she was able to get into four local stores and eventually got into Smith’s, Harmons, and Dan’s.

One of Maharba’s proudest accomplishments is that her initial motivation of providing for her family is now allowing her 50+ employees to provide for their families. Just this past year, Maharba has become a citizen of America, living proof that the American dream is alive.


Entrepreneur Leadership Series: Maharba Zapata