Long-time Oak Cliff resident Carlos de la Fuente spun paper mache and crepe paper into gold when he made his first Donald Trump piñata. Last June, when media outlets and political commenters were scoffing at Donald Trump's attempt on the presidency, Fuente saw something different: a chance to capitalize on the controversial presidential candidate.
“I was one of the first ones to come up with the piñata,” Fuente says from behind the counter of the Oak Cliff party-supply store ABC Party Headquarters, which he runs along with his wife Elvie. He says he was inspired after hearing about Dalton Ramirez, a Mexican artist who became known for his Donald Trump piñatas. “I’m local and I have the shop, [so] I decided to make my version and it just exploded.”
What started out as a pet project soon became news. Fuente says sales didn't come in until The Dallas Morning News did a story on the shop. “That’s how it all started," he says. "The piñatas sat there for two weeks before The Dallas Morning News came and did the story.”
After gaining exposure from the news stories about the handmade piñatas, Fuente says they have flown off the shelves and orders for them are rolling in every month. The only thing that Fuente says is keeping him from making even more of the piñatas are orders for other custom paper-craft caricatures.
“I’m going to be honest with you," he says. "If we had 20, if we had 30, they would sell. The problem is that we have other commitments and we have other stuff that we have to make, but for the most part we do it on order basis unless we have extra time.”
Fuente says he regularly follows the news and tries to come up with ideas for new piñata designs. To him it's less about politics and more about business.
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He says he also gets orders for Hillary Clinton and President Obama piñatas, but people seem especially drawn to Trump. “He’s a very easy character to make," he says. "He’s got characteristics that are unique and people are going to identify them right away,” Fuente says. “People have different opinions and reasons and they're listening to him constantly. They arrive at their reasons as to why they bought the piñata and what they are going to do with it.”
Fuente says his business, which specializes in custom-made piñatas, will make just about anything a customer can think up. But the weirdest order that came through the shop was commissioned for a bachelorette party.
“I told my guy I needed a piñata in the shape of a penis, with all the details and stuff,” Fuente says. “Well, he made it too big to fit in the car so we parked the car in the back and tied it to the roof. The lady was driving around Oak Cliff with a penis [sticking out of her car].”
But that suggestive custom job, however fun it was to make, can't touch the popularity of the possibly presidential piñata, which is their biggest seller. Fuente expects more orders to come in as Trump enters the final innings of the election. But just in case, he’s always looking for new ideas. “I come up with characters that are popular musicians or whatever character is in the news,” Fuente says. “I like to have it out there because people are trendy."