CHICA Boss: How Carolina Acosta Created the Perfect Party Game for Latinos
The Colombian–Dominican American entrepreneur created Tragos after not seeing a game designed with Latinos in mind.
As part of People CHICA's celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, each week we'll be spotlighting Latinas who've founded their own visionary companies without compromising their beliefs — CHICA Bosses. This week, we talk to Carolina Acosta, founder of Tragos.
Two years ago, Carolina Acosta was working for a design agency when she convinced them to let her work remotely — long before that became a necessity for many. She used her freedom from the office to take some time to live in South America, and while there, she felt like she started to fully appreciate her Colombian and Dominican heritage. "That was the first time that I actually appreciated my culture," she tells People CHICA. "I think for a long time living in New York or just in the U.S., I guess I didn't feel Latina enough to show that pride or to even feel connected to it. But living down there it's just so different. The people, the culture — everything about it felt like it was the first time I was connecting with my roots."
That realization led to the creation of Tragos, a party game focused on Latino culture. She had quit the design agency and was working as a freelancer when she and a client hit upon the idea of cultural drinking games. Working with her client, Acosta was at first supposed to design cards for an Asian version of the game, but she asked him to do one for the Latino community, too. "I convinced my partner to immediately start working on the Latino one because I just felt so strongly about it," she explains. "I felt like we had to do it because I knew that it would connect with people that felt the same way I did growing up in the U.S. — not feeling proud to be Latino, without having the need to check off all the boxes of what people think Latino or Latinx means."
The cards feature riffs on standard drinking game ideas like "categories," where players go around the room naming things that fit the given category until the last person who can't name one has to drink, but in Tragos, the category might be something like "novela plot twists." Others ask players to choose between stars like J Balvin and Bad Bunny, with voters for the less popular singer taking a drink. All of the cards, though, are meant to remove "the stigma of 'not being Latino enough,'" with prompts in both English and Spanish designed for Latinos of all backgrounds.
"You feel judgment all around you, just because you don't speak perfect Spanish or you don't look a certain way," Acosta explains. "The game is supposed to help you feel like you can connect to it no matter how you identify within the culture."
Acosta and her team are very hands-on with the company. "We do a lot of things in-house, except for production," she says. "When we create a new game it'll literally start on a Google doc, and we'll start typing out idea after idea, just whatever comes to mind. We come up with the content within one to two months, then it takes another month to get feedback, finish the designs of the box, and all that stuff."
In addition to the original game, the website now offers expansion packs (including a "Stay Home" digital pack designed mid-pandemic) as well as t-shirts, hats, and shot glasses. Acosta hopes to add even more merch in the future, like coasters, beer mugs, or flip-flops. "We were always laughing about the fear of la chancla coming out, so Tragos chancla set!" she jokes. "That's where we can get really creative because we do make fun of ourselves a lot with the brand."
The company also finds time to give back to organizations like DREAMer's RoadMap and Helping Hands for Puerto Rico. "That's a really big part of our business, giving back to the community," she shares. "We still have a long way to go in finding equal opportunities for Latinos, and we are such a big component of this country specifically. Then you also look at the help developing countries within our community also need. You feel like it's part of your family and part of your community."
The latest Tragos collection is due out in November, but Acosta already has plans for expansion. "I always thought that Tragos would be more than just a drinking game," she says. "There's a lot of room for us to have more voice, more opportunity, to empower our community in the U.S. I hope that it continues to grow as a company so that we do have opportunities helping the community and maybe other entrepreneurs in the future. In the sense of the company scaling, I'd love to see more games. I'd love to grow it, to have more hiring opportunities, to have people be full-time employees. It's a baby right now. I would love to see it be a full, functioning company with multiple products, and maybe even games that aren't drinking-related because the gaming industry is pretty small, especially for Latinos."