How does a little girl from Manati, Puerto Rico, who was transplanted to Norfolk, Virginia at six years old, end up in Texas signing a contract with a multibillion dollar corporation to distribute her own designs and products?
Ivette Mayo, a multicultural entrepreneur, motivational speaker, trainer, and owner at Yo Soy I Am, LLC, managed to make her American Dream a reality. Rooting her feet in her beloved Puerto Rican traditions, she helped others discover new growth strategies to complement their overall business objectives.
“When you face great challenges and constant change, you develop survival skills that allow you to jump, dive in and love what is in front of you for its pure essence, with no judgment,” Mayo said.
Leaving Puerto Rico
Leaving the “Atenas of Puerto Rico” was not an easy decision for Mayo’s family. “We were the first to leave the island because my father was in the US Navy. I was a little girl just turned six,” she said.
They came to a new environment where the language and the lifestyle were different, and because of her father’s work, they moved constantly. “It was 1968 and the nation was still dealing with issues of black and white,” Mayo said, “Hispanics were not even on the map yet.”
Mayo and her brother changed elementary schools 13 times. The family became really tight and friends and neighbors were welcomed as extended relatives. “My family had multicultural friends, and we built our traditions on accepting and embracing these differences,” Mayo said.
Although she was raised in the knowledge of the American culture, her family never deserted their Puerto Rican traditions. “From the door out, you are American; from the door in, you are Puerto Rican,” Mayo quotes her mother.
The multicultural entrepreneur
It is now 2006, and Mayo has just launched her company Yo soy I am, LLC. She had experienced the corporate world, where she managed to use her multicultural skills to excel at creating Latin America strategic marketing and sales for a major airline company with headquarters in Houston.
She had started her own family and had two daughters. She had moved once again from San Diego, in Southern California to Houston, Texas. She had gone from the corporate world to starting her own company and help corporate clients embrace new markets.
She believes her straightforward approach works well with senior level management. From utility companies to insurance and travel, Mayo helps her domestic and international clients understand the nuances of the Latino market.
“I believe I am a CCO, a Chief Creative Officer because I help clients create cultural solutions to approach those markets with confidence,” Mayo said. Due to this creativity and her restless entrepreneurial spirit, Mayo launched a line of bilingual cards to celebrate and comply with the cultural formalities of Latinos.
She always advised her clients on the need to create an emotional connection with customers. “Act like you care,” she used to tell them. The idea of designing a line of cards was the perfect fit for her creative juices and such a fun undertaken that soon Mayo decided to make it available to the public. In 2008, Mayo started her second company, Yo Soy Expressions, to empower Latina entrepreneurs and “la mujer Latina” in general, she said.
This year, Mayo’s company signed a licensing contract with Paper Magic Group, Inc , one of the largest designers and marketers of paper seasonal products. Her new cards will be distributed by a national chain store at 115 locations nationwide in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Virginia.
She has also been recognized for her work as a Latina entrepreneurial leader in empowering women on a global level. She was appointed by the U.S. State Department to the Public Diplomacy Program in January 2013. Among other recognitions, NBC Latino named her as one of the nation’s TOP LATINA LEADER back in June of this year. She is also the current Chair of the Hispanic Women’s’ Network of Texas in Houston.
“When we left the island, my grandmother, who has been a great inspiration in my life, told me I was going to encounter new challenges in the United States. In her simple ways, she told me to embrace them, adapt to and learn from change. It was the best advice,” Mayo concluded.
By Susana G Baumann
(Originally published on November 2013 @VOXXI.com)