Representation matters — from art to literature to television and even true crime podcasts. This is why the Spanglish true crime podcast Cuento Crimen is breaking barriers. The Jefas behind the brand are helping to increase visibility for minority victims and communities often overlooked in the true crime universe.

Cuento Crimen is co-hosted by two first-generation Latinas, Stephanie Albor and Jahayra Arce. They met in elementary school in Oakland, CA, many years ago, but their paths diverted. When they met again during orientation at the University of California, Santa Cruz, their story of collaboration really began. 

After graduation, Albor, now a full-time graduate student and user experience researcher, and Arce, a new mother and instructional support specialist who works with children on the autism spectrum, joined forces to tackle an issue they were passionate about.

Cuento Crimen is about making true crime podcasts accessible to the Latinx community 

As avid fans of true crime podcasts and now dedicated podcasters, Stephanie Albor and Jahayra Arce work tirelessly to focus on true crime cases that don’t get much media attention. At the same time, they use their platform to connect with the community and families of the victims they showcase.

The idea for Cuento Crimen first took root when Albor, a true crime fan, realized that “she couldn’t share this interest with her mother because of the language barrier,” she told FIERCE. She explained that it seemed strange and like a lost opportunity that there wasn’t a true crime podcast in Spanish to share with her mother. 

Image courtesy of Stephanie Albor.

And so, she reached out to Arce, a devoted true crime enthusiast, with her idea. They immediately knew they needed to “incorporate Spanglish, a significant factor of their shared first-generation identity, into their podcast.” 

It’s not only about the language barrier, though clearly, that was a huge deal to them both. It’s also about the types of cases and the people who are represented (both the victims and the families featured). 

Many true crime podcasts stick to mainstream cases that already receive national exposure, news coverage, and media attention. Albor and Arce were waiting to hear podcast coverage of cases committed in their communities and impacting people of color. More often than not, those cases were overlooked and swept under the rug rather than deeply discussed and broken down for listeners who cared. 

Image courtesy of Jahayra Arce.

They realized it was their calling to tell the untold stories of their community

Albor and Arce realized their calling was clear – someone had to tell the untold stories and do it in a way that resonated with English-speaking Latinas and Spanish speakers. In October of 2020, they launched their first episode.

“The Cuento Crimen podcast sets itself apart from mainstream true crime podcasts by focusing on cases that don’t get much media attention or resources,” they told FIERCE. “We highlight cases involving people of color who frequently face disproportionate attention and lack of resources.” It’s a passion project that they are fully invested in as business owners and advocates for change.

These first-generation Latina entrepreneurs took their passion and desire to serve their communities and turned it into a small business that took off. It was most certainly not always easy. As you can imagine, they encountered several obstacles along the way.

First, Albor and Arce embarked on their journey with no prior business knowledge or experience running a small business venture. They also had to wear multiple hats as first-generation business owners. They had to act as “researchers, editors, accountants, lawyers, social media managers, and so much more.” 

And even after you learn from mistakes — they figured out the value in investing in quality equipment and hiring a trained editor — there are always new obstacles to deal with as a business grows. 

“Learning will always be part of the journey because there is always something to learn, ways to improve and expand. The best part of all is being able to look back and see all the hard work and growth,” Albor and Arce said proudly. 

Image courtesy of Cuento Crimen.

Latina culture armed them with essential tools to get their small business and passion project off the ground

Luckily, they were armed with the skills they needed to tackle these obstacles with grace and confidence. And much of these skills they credit to their Latina roots. “Latinx culture, Latina pride, and strong work ethic” were all instilled in them. This is what helped them navigate the entrepreneurial world.

One big break that helped them along the way was joining the Latina Podcasters Network and Sonoro Network, which provided resources and a podcasting community. Both networks have allowed Cuento Crimen to have ads in episodes, turning this entrepreneurial project into a small business.

Today, there are over 150 episodes, each focusing on a different unsolved case or crime against a person of color or a member of the Latinx community. And in case you need help with the math, that means they’ve been releasing a weekly episode every single week for over two years without ever missing a weekly release. 

Ultimately, they are driven by their mission to create a true crime space for their community

That goal is what keeps them grounded and keeps them on task to create new content weekly. 

By creating this space for their community, it has become increasingly clear to Albor and Arce how underrepresented the cases they cover are compared to national cases. Cuento Crimen also addresses “lack of media attention, language barrier between families and detectives, cultural differences and the false statement of waiting 24 hours to report someone missing,” they told FIERCE.

It hasn’t always been an easy road, but they both acknowledge that the most challenging part was actually taking the first step to get their project off the ground. 

Their best advice to other Latina entrepreneurs is to “take one thing at a time. There is a lot to learn and unpack in the business world.” So start by addressing one aspect of your business at a time.

Similarly, networking is everything. It’s also essential to “make connections in your domain and follow professionals that have experience in legal, accounting, etc. because it is beneficial as they are providing information that is relevant.” 

Don’t wait to start your journey even if it feels overwhelming, they urge. Two years ago, when they first decided to exit their comfort zones and start Cuento Crimen, they constantly reminded themselves of the quote, “You only have one life, and you don’t have a redo. But you can start now. So, take up the space and go after what you want.” Their best guidance for other entrepreneurs is to start chasing their dreams now because it is their calling. 

“El que quiere puede,” they conclude.