Houston Matters

Quinceañeras are a booming business and still a long-honored tradition

A coming-of-age tradition like a quinceañera has evolved from being a family’s way of celebrating their daughter to now a complete industry where some families spend thousands of dollars.

Raul Juarez owner of my 15 expo for the last 24 years.
Raul Juarez owner of My 15 Expo for the last 24 years.

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While coming-of-age traditions know no borders, Texas – and the Houston area in particular – has become a focal point for an entire industry built around one of them.

The quinceañera began as a celebration of a girl's transition into womanhood, and turning 15 years old has been a long-standing tradition for young girls in Mexico and South Texas. Today, it’s a booming business across the state and a way for young women to connect with their culture.

Raul Juarez is the owner and founder of My 15 Expo, where young girls and their families visit NRG Arena to check out the latest trends and ways they can make their special day stand out.

In the audio above, Houston Matters producer Celeste Schurman speaks with Juarez about why this tradition is so important to Hispanic girls and their families. And she talks with a 14-year-old girl who was excited about her 15th birthday coming up in April.

  • There are many elements and important symbols in a traditional quinceañera. One is the dress, which has become more elaborate over time. (Photo Credit: Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
    There are many elements and important symbols in a traditional quinceañera. One is the dress, which has become more elaborate over time. (Photo Credit: Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
  • Quinceañeras have become large, elaborate parties that can cost thousands of dollars. (Photo Credit: Celeste Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
    Quinceañeras have become large, elaborate parties that can cost thousands of dollars. (Photo Credit: Celeste Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
  • Every year, young girls and their families head to NRG Arena for the quinceañera expo. (Photo Credit: Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
    Every year, young girls and their families head to NRG Arena for the quinceañera expo. (Photo Credit: Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
  • A quinceañera symbolizes a girl's entrance into womanhood when turning 15. This tradition is still celebrated today by Hispanic families across the country. (Photo Credit: Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
    A quinceañera symbolizes a girl's entrance into womanhood when turning 15. This tradition is still celebrated today by Hispanic families across the country. (Photo Credit: Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
  • Vendors from high-end boutiques, bakeries, DJs, and photographers show off the latest trends at the Quince Expo at NRG Arena in Houston. (Photo Credit: Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
    Vendors from high-end boutiques, bakeries, DJs, and photographers show off the latest trends at the Quince Expo at NRG Arena in Houston. (Photo Credit: Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
  • A young woman models one of the many varieties of dresses offered today for a quinceañera. (Photo Credit: Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
    A young woman models one of the many varieties of dresses offered today for a quinceañera. (Photo Credit: Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
  • A model shows off one of the many varieties of dresses offered these days for a quinceañera. (Photo Credit: Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
    A model shows off one of the many varieties of dresses offered these days for a quinceañera. (Photo Credit: Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
  • Houston Matters producer Celeste Schurman talks with five-year-old Juliesa Flores, who was at the quinceañera expo with her mother, a cake vendor. (Photo Credit: Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
    Houston Matters producer Celeste Schurman talks with five-year-old Juliesa Flores, who was at the quinceañera expo with her mother, a cake vendor. (Photo Credit: Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
  • A girl models a dress at the Quince Expo. (Photo Credit: Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)
    A girl models a dress at the Quince Expo. (Photo Credit: Celeste Schurman/Houston Public Media)