Celebrating our 12 Leaders of 2021

As another year comes to a close we at Latinas in Business look back on the inspiring stories of our 2021 Leaders. Each month of the year we have featured one woman leader from our Latinas in Business community who is inspiring, pushing boundaries, and setting leadership examples. 

Each one of these women has shared with us their wisdom and their journeys, showing us that success does not happen overnight; it’s often a bumpy road, but with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.  

See below to learn a little bit about each of our 2021 Leaders and check out their individual feature articles to read their whole stories and learn from their journeys as entrepreneurs, business owners, and career driven women. 

Latina Leader

Leader of January: Claudia Vazquez 

In January, Claudia Vazquez shared her career journey with us. As a bilingual and bicultural Latina Leader with over 20 years experience in the insurance and benefits industry, her work is dedicated to diversity and inclusion, education, and uplifting the voices of women and Hispanics in the marketplace. Currently she serves as a Director of Product Management within Prudential’s Group Insurance Customer Solutions Unit where she leads the Business Resolution Team. In addition to her work at Prudential, she also serves as a Board Trustee of BRICK – Achieve Community Charter School, which services elementary children. 

2021 Leader

Leader of February: Maria Elena Noel-Vaeza

In February, we learned from Maria Elena Noel-Vaeza about how the UN is working to help women around the world. Maria-Noel is the Regional Director of UN Women for the Americas and the Caribbean. A Uruguayan native, she holds a doctorate in Law and Social Sciences from the University of the Republic of Uruguay and a master’s degree in public policy from John Hopkins University in Washington DC. Prior to this role, Maria-Noel served as Director of the Program Division at UN Women headquarters in New York. She has also served as Political Counselor at the Uruguayan Embassy in Washington DC and delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. 

Leader of March: Damaris Diaz 

The charismatic Damaris Diaz shared pandemic stories with us this past March. As the host of Univision’s Despierta America, she had the opportunity to speak to individuals about their pandemic experience and shared with us her own insights and lessons learned. In addition to television host, Damaris is an accomplished multicultural and bi-lingual Marketing Media Professional, broadcast correspondent, and TV personality. Damaris has received two Emmy nominations and many special recognitions from diverse organizations. Throughout her career, Damaris has interviewed a long list of Hollywood stars such as Mick Jagger, Sandra Bullock, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, and Rita Moreno as well as world-renowned singers/performers like Marc Anthony and Celia Cruz among others.

2021 Leader

Leader of April: Dr. Harbeen Arora 

In April, thought leader, businesswoman, philanthropist, humanitarian, author, spiritual seeker and speaker, Dr. Harbeen Arora showed us how she manifests multifaceted leadership with strength & simplicity. Founder and Global Chairperson of the ALL Ladies League (ALL) and Women Economic Forum (WEF), she is a global leader for women. A powerful global network of 200,000 women worldwide and growing toward ‘Mission Million’, ALL and WEF are among the largest communities of women entrepreneurs and leaders worldwide offering platforms and ecosystems for personal and professional growth.

Ivana Sedia

Leader of May: Ivana Sedia 

In May, we learned from Ivana Sedia about how her company, Unida Translation, is helping people connect and transcend borders. Unida Translation delivers both spoken and written word translation services in over 125 languages for projects in the certified, legal, government, medical, and technical fields. Ivana’s business grew out of a hobby and passion for translation and language learning. With experience with writing in Spanish and English and working for the government by assisting non-English speaking immigrants, an MBA in management, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, International Relations and Diplomacy with a minor in Italian, Ivana taught Spanish and Italian lessons. She then decided to use her language skills to help transcend borders for businesses and organizations in need of translation services.

Latina Leader

Leader of June: Alice Rodriguez 

With over 30 years of extensive banking experience at JP Morgan Chase and positions in business banking, consumer banking, Alice Rodriguez serves a leading role in community engagement initiatives and localization strategies. Alice shared her story of overcoming obstacles to succeed during the 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit as Keynote Speaker. During her Keynote speech, Alice shared how her mother was a big influence and inspiration growing up. She reminded us that, “Behind every great woman there is another great woman,” and the importance of having women mentors and leaders to look up to. See her full speaker highlights and advice to aspiring entrepreneurs in her full feature article.

Latina Leader of te month

Leader of July: Natalie Diaz 

In July, Pulitzer Award-winning poet, Natalie Diaz, shared her experiences as a Latina and Native American woman in her book Postcolonial Love PoemBorn in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, Natalie now lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she is a professor at Arizona State University. She is also actively involved in the preservation of the Mojave language, working with the few remaining elder speakers of the language in an effort to revitalize the language and prevent its erasure. Natalie described her book as “a constellation, able to pool a lot of different communities together….We’re all fighting for this Earth, for one another against injustice.”

Latina athletes, Tokyo Olympic Games

Leader of August: Jasmine Camacho-Quinn

During the Olympics this past summer, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn broke records winning Gold in the women’s 100m Hurdles final. The 24-year-old athlete finished in 12.37 seconds, winning by .15 seconds.

Jasmine’s win marked Puerto Rico’s second ever gold medal and she became the first Puerto Rican of Afro-Latina descent in history to win gold while representing Puerto Rico. 

She is a role model and inspiration to all young Puerto Rican girls, especially young Latina athletes aspiring to follow in Jasmine’s footsteps. Her win showed Latinas athletes everywhere that they too can be Olympic Gold Medalists too. 

Rosita Hurtado

Leader of September: Rosita Hurtado

Our 2021 Leader of September, showed us how a childhood passion can become a successful design export. Rosita Hurtado is a fashion designer and entrepreneur who’s known for creating the fashion brand Rosita Hurtado and Rosita Hurtado Bridal. She is also the founder of Rosita Hurtado Menswear, Ixoye, Rosita Hurtado Shoes, and the perfume La Rose by Rosita Hurtado.

An accomplished designer with a career spanning 37 years, her work has been featured across the globe at events such as New York Fashion Week, Miami Fashion Week, and Los Angeles Fashion Week, and more and worn by stars such as  Eva Longoria, Lucia Mendez, Lupita Ferrer, Gloria Trevi, and Ximena Duque.

Leader of October: Marcela Berland 

In October, Marcela Berland shared her career journey and how a quest for longer maternity leave in the 90s lead her to a successful career working remotely from home before it was popular. Marcela is the President and CEO of Latin Insights, a strategic communications firm  that focuses on the Latino market and Latin America. LI bases their strategies on research and digital and AI tools and develops digital and marketing strategies to help clients achieve their goals.

After over 20 years, Marcela’s venture has become a success. She now serves a variety of clients that include political candidates and heads of state, corporations, and nonprofit organizations. As a successful Latina, she is also often the only woman in the room when working with Presidents and political candidates in Latin America.

Lucy Pinto, Latina Leader

Leader of November: Lucy Pinto 

Our 2021 Leader of November showed us how technology at Google is working to close the digital divide for minority small business owners and underserved communities. Lucy Pinto is the Manager of the Grow with Google Digital Coaches Program which works to level the field for communities who face digital divides and barriers to resources needed to grow online. The program delivers free digital skills training for U.S. Black & Latino small businesses and has trained over 80,000 businesses on digital tools to help them succeed.

Throughout Lucy’s 9 years with Google and prior, she has strived to create inclusive outcomes for communities who lack access to opportunities. This passion has guided her journey personally and professionally, stemming from her identity as a Peruvian immigrant who came to the U.S. at eight years old and became a first gen college graduate in her family.

2021 Leader

Leader of December: Evelyn Padin

Finally,  Evelyn Padin’s story showed us the power of diversity in the legal world. Evelyn Padin is a Seton Hall Law Alumnus, Class of ’92, a former social worker, and a trustee of the Hispanic Bar Association. Additionally, she is a successful entrepreneur who runs her own family law and civil litigation practice in Jersey City. In November of this year she was nominated by President Biden  to serve as a U.S. District Court Judge in New Jersey. This pick continues Biden’s pledge to appoint more diverse individuals to high level positions.

Continuing a line of historic strides forward for women of color in government positions, Padin is the second Latina to be nominated to this esteemed bench since the Honorable Esther Salas, U.S.D.J., former HBA-NJ President, was nominated over a decade ago.

Evelyn Padin

Evelyn Padin’s nomination to the U.S. District Court Judge in NJ is “a victory for our community”

President Biden has nominated Evelyn Padin, the former president of the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA), to serve as a U.S. District Court Judge in New Jersey. This pick continues Biden’s pledge to appoint more diverse individuals to high level positions. 

During the 2020 election, he promised to nominate “the most diverse Cabinet in history,” stressing that he wanted leaders that look like America. 

“It’s a cabinet that looks like America, taps into the best of America, and opens doors and includes the full range of talents we have in this nation,” Biden said. 

Evelyn Padin is a Seton Hall Law Alumnus, Class of ’92, a former social worker, and a trustee of the Hispanic Bar Association. Additionally, she is a successful entrepreneur who runs her own family law and civil litigation practice in Jersey City.

Continuing a line of historic strides forward for women of color in government positions, Padin is the second Latina to be nominated to this esteemed bench since the Honorable Esther Salas, U.S.D.J., former HBA-NJ President, was nominated over a decade ago. In 2019, Padin also became the first Puerto Rican and Latina to be sworn in as NJSBA President in the history of the association, which dates back to 1888.  

In a press release, the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey (“HBA-NJ”) issued a statement congratulating Trustee and friend, Evelyn Padin, on her nomination to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.  

The President of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey, Tabatha L. Castro, had this to say about this momentous nomination:

“To hear that Evelyn Padin has been nominated for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey is a victory for our community. I have known Evelyn for many years, from being part of the Board of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey to President of the New Jersey State Bar Association and everything in between. She serves New Jersey with zeal, passion and integrity and will be a great asset to the District Court, which is why our JPAC Committee endorsed her. We will continue to promote and support the ascension of qualified Latino members of our community to the bench and other important leadership roles in New Jersey.”

Evelyn Padin

Evelyn Padin is the second Latina to be nominated to the esteemed position of U.S. District Court Judge in New Jersey. (Image Source)

Padin brings over 30 years of legal experience to her role, if confirmed. Throughout her career she has supported groups and organizations that empower underserved communities. She has been a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, New Jersey Family Law Executive Committee (since 2007), and she serves as Vice President and Founder of the Carevel Foundation, whose mission is to educate and empower underrepresented members in the community.

Over the years the Foundation has partnered with organizations such as NJ Women Rising, The Boys & Girls Club, Community Food Bank of New Jersey, and Autism Awareness of Jersey City. Most recently, fundraising efforts have focused on supporting victims of the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. 

As a frequent lecturer, Padin has actively served as a speaker on behalf of the National Council of State Bar Presidents, the New Jersey State Bar Association, and the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education. She is also a former Trustee of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey and previously served on the board of New Jersey Women Lawyers. 

For Latinas everywhere, Padin’s confirmation to the esteemed position of U.S. District Court Judge in New Jersey would signal a great step forward in the movement for greater diversity and representation in government. 

You might be interested: The strides toward diversity in politics continue in historic firsts for women of color 

Lucy Pinto, Grow With Google, Google Digital Coaches

Americas’ opportunity and disparity sparked the career of Google Digital Coaches Manager Lucy Pinto

Lucy Pinto is the Manager of the Grow with Google Digital Coaches Program which works to level the field for communities who face digital divides and barriers to resources needed to grow online. The program delivers free digital skills training for U.S. Black & Latino small businesses and has trained over 80,000 businesses on digital tools to help them succeed.

Lucy Pinto

Lucy Pinto, Manager of the Grow with Google Digital Coaches Program. (Photo courtesy Lucy Pinto)

Throughout Lucy’s 9 years with Google and prior, she has strived to create inclusive outcomes for communities who lack access to opportunities. This passion has guided her journey personally and professionally, stemming from her identity as a Peruvian immigrant who came to the U.S. at eight years old. 

“Coming from a low-income immigrant family living in the south, I was exposed very early on to a duality that perplexed me: this is a country of opportunity and disparity at the same time,” said Lucy. “I knew that if I wanted to help my community, I had to unapologetically go after opportunities then disseminate what I learn to others in my community who might not have the same access.” 

With this mission in mind, Lucy worked hard to attend college. She received her B.B.A. in Management and International Business from The University of Georgia in 2012–becoming the first in her family to graduate college. 

Before graduating, Lucy began her career at Google as an intern in 2011. Lucy highlights the importance of mentorship and development programs, such as the Management Leadership for Tomorrow’s Career Prep program, which helped prepare her to navigate Corporate America. 

While Lucy’s first role at Google was not related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, she made it a purpose to engage in this work outside of her core role at the time. She became active in various groups including Google’s Employee Resource Groups. From 2016-2018 Lucy served as the N.Y.C. Chapter Lead of HOLA –– the Hispanic Google Network — which is committed to representing the voice of the Latino community within and outside Google. 

Within a few years, Lucy attained a core role on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team, enabling her to build a more equitable Google experience internally and externally. Now she works in Marketing where her work as Grow with Google’s Digital Coaches Manager focuses on amplifying Google’s best-in-class digital skills training to help Black and Latino business owners in the United States thrive. 

Additionally, Lucy has been the recipient of various awards for her work. In 2018, she was recognized as a Young Hispanic Corporate Achiever by the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility and recipient of the 2019 Negocios Now N.Y.C. Latinos 40 Under 40 award. On April 12, 2019, she was awarded a proclamation by the Westchester County Board of Legislators proclaiming April 12 as “Lucy Pinto Day” for her participation in the 100 Hispanic Women of Westchester Leadership Forum as well as her professional and community work. 

Lucy Pinto

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 13: Lucy Pinto speaks onstage during the PowHERful Benefit Gala on June 13, 2018 at Tribeca Rooftop in New York City. (Photo by Jennifer Graylock/Getty Images for PowHERful Foundation)

One career highlight that stands out for Lucy was managing the participation of hundreds of employees in volunteer initiatives aimed at bridging the digital divide across 15 countries —such as South Africa, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and Nigeria— which reached 135K people. 

“The activation in South Africa stood out to me because I was able to attend it in person and witness first-hand the impact of our work. We partnered with a local organization called MOOV and had about 50+ employees from the Black Googler Network connect with 250+ job seekers and entrepreneurs from Soweto,” said Lucy. 

Soweto residents face many systemic barriers deeply rooted in the country’s history with apartheid, and they often look to entrepreneurship to make a living for themselves and their families. The activation focused on delivering digital skills training to help job seekers build resumes and help business owners reach customers online.

“To me personally, this activation had some of the most heartfelt stories and testimonials that I’ve come across in my career.” 

Navigating obstacles in the workplace 

 As a Latina in the workplace, Lucy approaches matters through a multicultural lens. For many Latinas, this lens can be advantageous because it can help a company identify inclusion gaps in marketing or hiring, and help build innovative solutions that authentically reach diverse audiences. 

“Being a Latina in the workplace can give you a cultural intelligence edge. You’ll likely have a unique perspective on how to make products and programs more inclusive thanks to your own diverse and innovative lived experiences,” she says. 

Throughout her years of experience working in leadership roles and aiding entrepreneurs on their journeys, Lucy has also learned many important lessons and strategies for tackling career obstacles and challenges. While career development training is essential, there is nothing like hands-on experience. 

Lucy recalls a time in her career when she faced a challenge with a co-worker. Lucy received some critical feedback that misrepresented who she was as a professional, and miscommunication about the issue led to hurt feelings. 

“This peer didn’t give me the feedback directly but rather shared such with their manager, leaving me feeling betrayed, perplexed, and concerned about my career trajectory. I spoke in detail with my work mentors, including my manager, about the issue. I felt vulnerable and wanted to get validation from people who worked close to me,” Lucy recounts. 

Lucy Pinto, Grow with Google, Google Digital Coaches

“To work effectively and influence peers, be it management or leadership, communication is key,” says Google Digital Coaches Program Manager, Lucy Pinto. (Photo courtesy Lucy Pinto)

After speaking to her manager, he highlighted something she had never considered before: communication style differences. 

This perspective shed new light on the situation and how the misunderstanding had arisen. Communication styles are often shaped by one’s upbringing, culture, and current circumstances. Lucy describes herself as an analytical thinker who loves to reflect on ideas out loud and work through pros and cons on the spot. 

“This is my default way of brainstorming, much like my family and I did at the dinner table. After speaking with my manager, I realized that the issue’s root was the extreme difference in communication styles. I wasn’t acting how my coworker perceived, nor was my perception of my co-worker accurate. It was just that my co-worker and I spoke in different communication languages.”

Lucy thought she was simply analyzing her co-worker’s proposal and pressure testing it with questions. Her co-worker interpreted this as Lucy shutting down her ideas and being territorial with their collaborative project. 

After taking a communication style assessment to understand better where she and her co-worker’s styles fell on the range, they discovered they indeed had very different styles. They were able to use this assessment as a framework to guide their conversation and work through their differences, build rapport, and ultimately work effectively together.

“What I learned from this challenge was something super valuable to my career: to work effectively and influence peers, be it management or leadership, communication is key,” said Lucy. 

“Understanding your own communication style and how to stretch it to get your desired outcome is crucial. It doesn’t mean that you have to change your default communication style, but you do have to strike a balance, especially when you’re attempting to influence decision-making.”

Lucy Pinto

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 13: Soledad O’Brien (L) and Lucy Pinto speak onstage during the PowHERful Benefit Gala on June 13, 2018 at Tribeca Rooftop in New York City. (Photo by Jennifer Graylock/Getty Images for PowHERful Foundation)

Another lesson Lucy has learned and imparts to other entrepreneurs and career-driven women is remembering that the journey is not always linear or upward. 

“Your career might be full of twists, turns, lateral moves, and balancing out personal with professional. Find beauty and learn from this ‘chaos’ as it will equip you to have the breadth needed to be an effective thought leader.” 

Finally, make time to periodically check in with yourself on what success looks like to you as you progress in your career. You may find that your definition of success has changed over time, and that’s okay!

“Does your definition of success mean making it to a C-suite position, or do you feel more fulfilled by a constant change in scope regardless of title? It’s important to keep YOU at the center of it,” Lucy advises. “Don’t measure your success by the definition of others but rather by your own terms.”

You might be interested: Latinas are underrepresented in law, says attorney Anna María Tejada

Marcela Berland, a pioneer in working from home, combines work and maternity

Marcela Berland is the President and CEO of Latin Insights, a strategic communications firm  that focuses on the Latino market and Latin America. LI bases their strategies on research and digital and AI tools and develops digital and marketing strategies to help clients achieve their goals. LI’s clients include political candidates and heads of state, corporations and nonprofit organizations. 

Building a successful consulting firm from the ground up

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Marcela Berland eventually came to the U.S. on a Fulbright scholarship and began working in New York in strategic communications and polling. At the time she did not expect to launch her own consulting firm and embark on her own entrepreneurial journey. However, life circumstances would soon steer her onto this path.

It was 1996, after the birth of her daughter, Isabella. Marcela asked her then-boss for five extra months of maternity leave so she could work from home taking care of her newborn. She had done the same before when her son was born so Marcela did not expect to be told “No.” After her 3 months of maternity leave, Marcela announced her resignation. 

Marcela Berland, Frank Gomez, Latin Insights

Marcela Berland and Frank Gomez. (Photo by Max Canovas)

“They realized then that they needed me. Many of my clients wanted to work with me so, they agreed to let me work primarily from home.  Now, too little too late, I positioned myself as an external consultant and negotiated a higher salary for fewer working hours. They agreed to all my terms.  However, I was very disappointed at the whole situation and had already made plans to consult for other clients,” said Marcela. 

After three more months, Marcela left for good, showing them that it was possible to work remotely from home and be effective– even in the late 90s! 

In 2000, Marcela decided it was time to launch her own firm. As a Latina, she had a unique perspective to bring to her company, understand the multicultural market in a deeper way, and she was already committed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, in addition to women’s issues. 

The brand new entrepreneur began to plan and gather as much information as possible. She was nervous to set out on her own, fearing failure, but determined to try. Soon, she reached out to someone she admired to help her build her business: communications, media, and political expert, Frank Gómez.  

“At the time, Frank was working at a corporation but thinking about retiring. He not only gave me great advice, but he ended up leaving his job and joined me as a partner. I was thrilled. And that’s how Latin Insights started, just the two of us at first,” said Marcela. 

Conquering the fear of failure and following your dreams 

After over 20 years, Marcela’s venture has become a success. She now serves a variety of clients that include political candidates and heads of state, corporations, and nonprofit organizations. As a successful Latina, she is also often the only woman in the room when working with Presidents and political candidates in Latin America. 

And she has proved that working remotely from home and being successful is possible. This was especially evident this past year during the pandemic when Marcela and her team worked remotely on a presidential race, developing a successful and highly effective strategy that ended with their candidate winning a very tough election. 

Despite her successes now, the early days of her entrepreneurial venture were full of doubts and fear of failure—a common fear for many new entrepreneurs. 

“The first obstacle I faced was overcoming my fear of failing. I was doing very well just consulting on my own, but starting a new company, becoming an entrepreneur had a completely different meaning. What if I didn’t make it? How could I sustain a business? Take care of all the financial and administrative needs associated with it?” Marcela shared. 

Like all newcomers, she soon learned the antidote to this fear was knowledge. Now, whenever she feels doubts, she takes this as an opportunity to learn and come back stronger. 

Latin Insights Founder and CEO, Marcela Berland. (Photo courtesy Marcela Berland)

“During my career as an entrepreneur, I learned that you need to reinvent yourself, adapt to the ever-changing times and take risks. It is the only way to grow. Learn from your mistakes. You need to be open and humble enough to admit that you made a mistake and change direction. Also, become associated with people who share the same values and mindset. I was very fortunate to find Frank early on. We sometimes disagree, but in more than 20 years, we have never had an argument.” 

You might be interested: Rosita Hurtado shares how she transformed a childhood passion into a successful design export

With over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, Marcela has found that success is not about winning alone, it is about making a difference. Additionally, each success is made all the more enjoyable because she loves what she does and loves helping her clients. For her, the work is more than just work, it is something she is passionate about. Having that passion pushes her to “go the extra mile” because she believes in delivering the highest quality service for her clients.  

To aspiring entrepreneurs, Marcela urges that you follow your dreams and go for your passion. She shares her pillars of advice for new entrepreneurs: 

First, be well prepared. Have very clear goals of what you want to achieve and develop a product/service that distinguishes you from others. Next, find the right partners/team to support you and ask for help from the right partners/associates/mentors. Check for resources that can help you and also make sure you help others on your way to success. Don’t give up even when you fail. Network strategically. Raise capital if needed (many organizations can help you with this task).

Finally, never stop learning; make sure you learn something new every day if possible, and always honor your values, treating others with respect. 

Rosita Hurtado

Rosita Hurtado shares how she transformed a childhood passion into a successful design export

Rosita Hurtado is a fashion designer and entrepreneur who’s known for creating the fashion brand Rosita Hurtado and Rosita Hurtado Bridal. She is also the founder of Rosita Hurtado Menswear, Ixoye, Rosita Hurtado Shoes, and the perfume La Rose by Rosita Hurtado.

An accomplished designer with a career spanning 37 years, her work has been featured across the globe at events such as New York Fashion Week, Miami Fashion Week, and Los Angeles Fashion Week, and more and worn by stars such as  Eva Longoria, Lucia Mendez, Lupita Ferrer, Gloria Trevi, and Ximena Duque. 

As a Latina designer and part of Fashion Designers of Latin America (FDLA), Rosita’s work draws inspiration from her cultural roots and heritage, blending Latin American tradition with modern fashion. 

Rosita Hurtado

Fashion designer and entrepreneur, Rosita Hurtado. (Photo courtesy Rosita Hurtado)

From homemade fashion shows to professional runways

For as long as she can remember, Rosita has lived in the world of fashion and design. Born in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, her early years were filled with fabric and sewing as she watched her seamstress aunts work at their shops. Her mother was also a natural designer, creating homemade clothes for Rosita. With these teachers in her life, Rosita grew up watching and learning the craft of sewing and design that would eventually become her life’s passion. 

“At seven years old I was making garments for my friends and putting on fashion shows on the patio at my home,” Rosita recounted. 

This passion for fashion and design that began in childhood has since taken her around the world. At the age of 18, Rosita had the opportunity to travel to Brazil where she studied design at Yocanda Atelier in Porto Alegre Brazil. Later, she continued her studies in Paris, France at the Dominique school, before moving to London, England to study industrial pattern making. Finally, Rosita completed her education at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Florida, USA.

Designs by Rosita Hurtado. (Photo source: IxoyeUSA)

Following her desire to create, Rosita went on to launch various professional clothing lines. Her collections have appeared internationally alongside accomplished designers such as Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, Tommy Hillfiiger, Alexandre Mac Queen. As a seasoned designer with a career spanning nearly four decades, her work as appeared at Paris Pret a porte, Fashion Week of the Americas, Texvecal in Santiago de Chile, Puerto Rico Fashion Week, Ecua moda, Los Angeles Fashion Week, Bolivia Fashion Parade, New York Fashion Week and more. 

However, like most entrepreneurs who have found success, the road was not always easy. In her long career, Rosita has faced her share of challenges and obstacles but she has always persevered with a positive attitude overcoming anything in her way. As a young designer, she went from small business owner to successfully expanding to become a top business in Bolivia. Then she moved to the USA to start anew. Starting from zero in a new country where she knew nobody was an incredible challenge but also a crucial learning experience for the entrepreneur. She put in the work, began networking and promoting herself, doing interviews, anything she could to advance her business. Rosita’s love and passion for design fueled her with the perseverance to overcome her obstacles. 

Rosita Hurtado

Rosita shares her advice on overcoming career obstacles. (Photo courtesy Rosita Hurtado)

The lesson she learned, and that she hopes others will carry with them, is this: Know that nothing in life is easy, everything comes with sacrifice, but if you have a focus and drive and put in the work, you will get through anything and accomplish your goals. 

You might be interested: Fashion Designers of Latin America Returns to New York Fashion Week LIVE Shows

Weaving stories of Latin American culture into garments 

One goal that guides Rosita’s work, is showcasing the beauty of Latin America through her garments. Rosita’s designs often blend vibrant colors and fabrics to create pieces that tell a story. Her collection, Viva México, is one example of this, blending urban casual with Latin American culture. The line was inspired by some of Mexico’s most important figures and monuments, bringing culture, history, and tradition together in stunning garments. 

“It is an urban casual collection with a cultural purpose,” said Rosita describing the collection IxoyeUSA. “Inspired by four icons of Mexican history: Frida Kahlo, Maria Felix, Cantinflas and Juan Gabriel, and also in the architecture of Mexico.” 

The collection, which includes tops, skirts, accessories, and more, was first presented during Bolivian Fashion Week in the Dominican Republic and is now available throughout various shops in Acapulco, Cancun and Playa del Carmen, as well as online through IxoyeUSA.

fashion,

Viva Mexico, Angel de la Independencia skirt. (Photo source: IxoyeUSA)

“I created the Ixoye line, a casual urban fashion with cultural purpose which is being recognized worldwide for its originality, to show the world through the clothing Latin American culture,” said Rosita on FDLA.co.

Her recent 2021 collection, featured at New York Fashion Week, is another symbolic collection. Named “Arcoíris” –Rainbow in Spanish– the collection is the perfect symbol for the year following a global pandemic. Focusing on vibrant and sparkling garments featuring the main colors of the rainbow, Rosita described the collection as representing “hope and renewal.” 


As a seasoned designer, Rosita shares her advice with other young and aspiring women looking to venture into the vibrant world of fashion or longing to start their own venture. 

The first step, she says, is knowing what you want. From a young age she knew she wanted to work with fabric and design like her aunts and mother. Find what’s calling out to you. Then, get an education in that field. Learn everything you can. Get practical hands-on experience as well. This is so important, especially in an industry such as fashion where there are so many avenues to pursue from designing to merchandising and event planning. Finally, follow your passion and love what you do. 

Natalie Diaz, Pulitzer Prize

Pulitzer Prize winner Natalie Diaz weaves together Latina and Indigenous identity in poetry collection 

Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, Natalie Diaz weaves together her Latina and Indigenous identity in a collection of tender, heart-wrenching and defiant poems that are an anthem against erasure of people like herself.

Natalie Diaz, Pulitzer Prize

Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, Natalie Diaz’s latest collection is a celebration of Latina and Indigenous identity. (Photo by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Her Pulitzer Prize winning collection, Postcolonial Love Poem, is described by Natalie herself as “a constellation.” Speaking to The Arizona Republic, Natalie continued, describing how like a constellation, her book is “able to pool a lot of different communities together. I, of course, have an Indigenous lens, but yet I think that Indigenous lens is extremely important to non-Indigenous peoples. We’re all fighting for our water. We’re all fighting for this Earth, for one another against injustice.”  

Postcolonial Love Poem is a timely piece that explores various aspects of identity and life as a Latina and Indigenous woman in America today and what it means to love and be loved in an America troubled by conflict and racial injustice.

A defiant act against erasure

Born in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, Natalie now lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she is a professor at Arizona State University. She is also actively involved in the preservation of the Mojave language, working with the few remaining elder speakers of the language in an effort to revitalize the language and prevent its erasure. 

Historically, Native and Indigenous cultures, histories, and languages have been erased, silenced, ignored, and rewritten. Natalie’s work aims to shine a light on that erasure and the violence inflicted on Native people. In Postcolonial Love Poem, every body carried in its pages demands to be seen and to “be touched and held as beloveds.” 

Latina and Indigenous identity, Postcolonial Love Poem, Pulitzer Prize, Natalie Diaz

Postcolonial Love Poem explores the nuances of what it means to be a Latina and Mojave Native woman in America today. (Image source: Gray Wolf Press)

“In this new lyrical landscape, the bodies of indigenous, Latinx, black, and brown women are simultaneously the body politic and the body ecstatic. In claiming this autonomy of desire, language is pushed to its dark edges, the astonishing dunefields and forests where pleasure and love are both grief and joy, violence and sensuality,” her publisher describes. 

Her poetry is a defiant act against the erasure of bodies like hers. She writes, “I am doing my best to not become a museum / of myself. I am doing my best to breathe in and out. // I am begging: Let me be lonely but not invisible.

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Portrait of Natalie Diaz in her studio in Phoenix, AZ on September 14, 2018. (Photo by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

“I think one of the most rewarding things about poetry is poetry has this incredible capacity to hold what is at once painful and also what is joyful,” Natalie says. “It can hold tensions. It can let you not know things. It can let you question things. It can let you even have no language … to express the ways we feel or the ways we’re imagining things.”

Postcolonial Love Poem presents a complex and nuanced perspective on identity, joy, love, and grief while unraveling notions of American goodness, creating something more powerful than hope. A future is built and in these poems, Natalie chooses love. 

Natalie Diaz is also the author of When My Brother Was an Aztec, winner of an American Book Award. She has received many honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship, a USA fellowship, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Artist Fellowship. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. She also holds the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University.

Alice Rodriguez: Overcoming obstacles and the power to succeed in business and life

The 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit (WEES) was a day full of inspiration and empowerment. With inspiring guest speakers, panels from industry leaders, and interactive deep-dive workshops, the event centered on giving entrepreneurs the tools to THRIVE! post-pandemic. One of the main moments at 2021 WEES was hearing from Keynote Speaker, Alice Rodriguez, Chairwoman of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Alice Rodriguez

Keynote Speaker, Alice Rodriguez, Chairwoman of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“She is a person who is raising the bar for Latinas in Business and I’m absolutely grateful for her presence here,” said Susana G Baumann, President and founder of Latinas in Business when she introduced Alice.

With over 30 years of extensive banking experience at JP Morgan Chase and positions in business banking, consumer banking, Alice Rodriguez serves a leading role in community engagement initiatives and localization strategies. 

“Congratulations for this wonderful summit, and all the wonderful content you are providing to Latina entrepreneurs is so important,” says Alice Rodriguez while opening her speech. 

Below, Alice shares three key aspects from her presentation to empower YOU to succeed. 

“Lessons learned from my Sheroe”

“Behind every great woman there is another great woman,” Alice begins.

Alice’s great “sheroe” was her mother, Alicia Nuñez Ramírez who had the most impact on her life. 

“This was a woman who came to this country when she was 15 years old,” Alice shares. “My grandfather died when she was 12 years old and my mother came to a family of 12 and it was very difficult for my grandmother to raise all of those children by herself. So she sent her children away to live with another family while my mother ended up living with an aunt in Texas.  She met my father who was from the US and they started our family.” 

Growing up, Alice saw how her mother overcame a lot of adversity. “She had this very strong ability to never get flustered, which I learned from her and I believe she was completely ahead of her time.  She was a strong independent Latina that just did not take a no for an answer and I recognize that I stand on her shoulder. She came here with a middle school education and it didn’t stop her from learning. She taught me everything, how important family is, values, faith, how to create your own success and take a risk. She was always figuring out how to get over those barriers.” 

One of the most important lessons she taught Alice was “‘Life is not fair’ so you can’t sit there and see how things don’t go your way. You have to figure out how to get back or what you need to do in order to change the path that you are currently on,” Alice says. 

She continues, “When I think about my mom and Latinas today… Latinos are making such an impact in this country. According to a Neilsen report, every generation of Latinas are making great progress when it comes to education. For Latinas that are 50 or older, 13% of Latinas have a Bachelor’s Degree. If you are between 35 and 49 that number goes up to 18% and if you are between 25 and 35 years old that number is 19%.” 

Alice Rodriguez’s mother did not read or write. She had a seventh-grade education. Then Alice was the first in her  family to graduate from College. Finally, two days ago Alice’s youngest daughter who’s now 29 graduated from her 3-year residence in John Hopkins. 

“I am a real example of those statistics on the great strides that Latinas are making. It’s not just education, it’s also what we see in politics,” says Alice. “There’s no question that Latinas are making a very big impact in entrepreneurship.”

Alice Rodriguez speaking virtually at the 2021 WEES.

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Amazing statistics on Latino power

“I want to share with you really important statistics that are not shown in the media. Everybody knows we have 61 million Latinos in this country, a number that is growing very fast and the economic activity that Latinos are providing to this country is significant. If we say ‘Latinos are their own country’ it will be the 8th largest in the world. Larger than Italy, South Korea or Brazil. The labor participation for Latinos has been extremely strong.”

Alice continues, “A large number of baby-boomers are retiring every month. If you were a country that didn’t know where your population is going to come from you would be extremely worried.  The good news is Latino participation is growing and this is where I became super optimistic about the real economic power that Latinos have and how we need an equal system.” 

“As we look at Latino-owned businesses in this country, there are 5 million and growing and Latinas are growing 6 times faster than the overall coverage. Which brings me to what I am doing in the Hispanic US Chamber and JP Morgan Chase as the Head of Community Impact. At the Chamber we see this economic power and we know that is real and we are working very hard in what we call the 3 Cs: 

  1. Capital: We recognize that Latino-owned businesses really need to have this access to capital and also the work that we are doing with the administration, with banks is extremely critical. 
  2. The second C is connections. I don’t have to tell this group how many organizations out there are very focused in really engaging minority suppliers and this is a really great opportunity to have all of you prepared to be able to do business at a larger level and so the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is really providing those introductions so those procurement opportunities are available at the Federal level, al the local level and obviously at the corporate level. 
  3. And the third C is Capacity Building; so we are very blessed to have 250 local chambers that we are working very closely every day and we recognize not every chamber has the same capabilities so our ability to build capacity with them has been critical. It includes more webinars, more content, etc.

“In JP Morgan Chase. I had a very long career and what I’m doing today is one of the most impactful assignments I ever had. We have to be sure that we are bringing the power to our local communities, how we can help with that mentoring, with that coaching, with that advising. We are very excited about the programs we put in place and more importantly we believe that this five-year commitment that we made is really going to be an opportunity to provide more access to many Latinas in businesses in this country. 

I want to leave you with a few takeaways

Alice concluded her presentation with a few key takeaways that every entrepreneur and business owner could use to help them grow and THRIVE! in business and in life. 

“Really take care of your financial health,” is Alice’s first recommendation. “Knowing the details of your business and really understanding your own credit and where you are in income perspective. Spend the time. There are lots of resources to help with that.”

“The second is that you have to love a lot of paperwork, if you don’t like it you just have to get over it,” Alice continues. “Be sure that you have the right CPA, that you have an accountant, that you have a lawyer, that you have a banker and more important that you have a relationship with the banker. This is critical and we discovered during this pandemic how critical it was in order to get the resources that were available.” 

Third, is no surprise to any entrepreneur. “Network, network, network. It’s important to keep up with the people that you meet, understanding what their background is because you never know when you are going to need that person. Even if that person can’t help you, they can always connect you to the right person that perhaps can help you.” 

Finally, more important than anything else is self-care. Without taking care of yourself, everything else will unravel. 

“I think as Latinas, as women, we want to do it all,” says Alice. “But we just are human beings like everybody else and if we don’t slow down and really take care of ourselves, physically, mentally we are not going to do anyone any good and we are certainly not going to do our professional lives any good. Take that time. Some people meditate, some people exercise, some people just don’t do anything. Pick whatever works for you but more important, take care of yourself.” 

2021 WEES Speaker Maria Piastre: A Latina leader excels in a male-dominated industry 

In 2017, after only 12 years working in this male-dominated industry, Maria Piastre was appointed Metallix Refining Inc. President. Ambition had always been a driving force fueled by a passion for the industry, but never did she imagine to be made President.

The 2021 Women Entrepreneur Empowerment Summit motto is THRIVE! with our panels and workshops focusing on key areas of growth to connect and empower women business owners and give them the tools and insights to propel forward and thrive post-COVID19. 

Our women’s panel,THRIVE! Women Turning Adversity into Success”, will feature guest speakers: Maria Piastre, Marvina Robinson, and Jessie Gabriel as they share insights learned on their journey to success while fighting the odds of being a woman and reinventing themselves during the pandemic. Below, Maria shares her story with us of how she rose through the ranks and excelled in a male-dominated industry as a Latina, eventually becoming company CE

 

“The leap of faith never fails”

Maria Piastre was born and raised in Cali, Colombia. She came to the USA in 2000, the start of a new millennium, one that would unveil marriage, a young family, graduation, and professional achievements in business. 

woman in a male-dominated industry, Maria Piastre

Maria Piastre, President of Metallix Refining Inc.

As her career path was still uncharted, Maria’s tenacity for success and recognition would prove to be her armor against the many inequalities she would encounter. Later these inequalities would form the foundation for future campaigns.

Maria graduated from Kean University in 2004 with a degree in Economics thanks to the unconditional support of her family.  She then entered the world of business and commerce. Over the next two years, the motivated Latina immigrant excelled in business management, marketing strategy, aesthetic value, with an aptitude for communication at all levels. 

With the end of 2005 insight, Maria reflected on both her achievements and looked towards new challenges that would be more aligned with her goals and those of the organization she would represent. This new chapter of discovery would lead Maria to Metallix and a career in the male-dominated industry of precious metals where her future would soon unfold and be a platform for success.

“Facing new challenges can often be very daunting and come with their own set of risks but taken intelligently, they will open doors to countless possibilities where the rewards can be high,” Maria asserts. 

And she continues, “The leap of faith never fails because you learn something valuable about your decision and the events in your life, bringing growth and confidence.  Survival makes you strong and it is an understanding of failure that makes you realize this is not the end of the line, but just the beginning of a new chapter.” 

Achieving success as a woman in a male-dominated industry

In 2006 Metallix Refining Inc., a precious metals recycling company in New Jersey, announced they were recruiting for an inside sales position to cover Latin America. 

Maria, a native Spanish speaker, fluent in English with a background in sales and marketing, applied for the opening and received an interview offer from Eric Leiner, owner and then President.

For any profession, being prepared for whatever situation you face is crucial; it is a professional obligation to your colleagues and suppliers to answer their questions fully and present them with the best, most relevant, and actionable recommendation.

Maria applied the same professional approach to the Metallix interview. Reading precious metals and refining trade magazines, researching product supply to the industry from gold-plated connectors to solar industry production, all of which made for credibility and confidence during the interview process and responses.

woman in a male-dominated industry

Maria during her tour of Asia meeting with our Technical Director Claudio Ferrini and the General Manager of Metallix Refining Asia Mr. SB Sangbae Kim. (Photo courtesy Maria Piastre)

There is always a voice of doubt and moments of anxiousness when you want something which is almost in touching distance, and for Maria, this was no exception. 

However, instead of a second interview, she received a job offer. The strategy had worked, and Eric Leiner was thrilled when Maria accepted.

The best place to work is the place you can be at your best and this was true for Maria.  Maria started to learn the business and soon fell in love with her job and became fascinated by the industry. 

With increasing industry knowledge and eagerness to grow within the company, Maria assumed additional responsibility bringing in new business, developing good relationships with industry partners and leading the way for improvements within Metallix.

In 2007, following the birth of her second son, Maria took a short career break from Metallix.  In a competitive and male-dominated industry time away can often result in missing significant opportunities.  “The progressive mindset of Metallix and their appreciation for my professional achievements and value to the company, secured my time away from the industry – a luxury many working mothers do not enjoy. I will always be grateful for such important consideration to my family,” Maria explained.   

Upon her return, she continued to achieve recognition within Metallix, taking on significant responsibilities assigned by Lerner.  

“The only limits are those you set yourself”

In 2017, after only 12 years working in this male-dominated industry, Maria Piastre  was appointed company President.  Ambition had always been a driving force fueled by a passion for the industry, but never did she imagine to be made President. This was both a pleasant shock and honor. 

woman in a male-dominated industry

Maria interacts with every member of the Metallix Team, making an effort to engage with every employee on her many frequent visits to the Refinery. (Photo courtesy Maria Piastre)

The sense of humility that Maria brings to the position transcends not just gender but embraces a new generation of values, of learning and reward based on individual merit, with the only limits being those you set yourself.

“As an immigrant to the US, I know only too well the challenges we all will encounter, especially for minority groups. The road will not always be smooth, and regardless of your cultural background, you should believe in yourself, your self-worth, your ability to succeed and that your qualities will always shine through to achieve rewards,” Maria advises Latinas in Business readers. This ethos is ingrained in Maria’s leadership.

One of the most important responsibilities as President was to establish a vision, a long-term mission with short-term objectives.  These will ultimately determine the expectations for the company’s culture and core values that will lead Metallix at multiple levels ensuring alignment throughout. Equally, recruiting talent and nurturing Executive growth for succession planning is key to building sustainability and industry expertise.  

Now guardian of a prestigious and respected precious metals recycling company, with locations in New Jersey, Greenville, and Maxton, North Carolina, the pattern of reinvestment and growth is set to continue. 

In 2019 the company embarked on a significant expansion program establishing Metallix Refining Asia Ltd in South Korean and Metallix Refining Europe Ltd based in the UK. 

These two new facilities secured the recruitment of the industry’s most experienced and respected personnel, opening up new and untapped revenue sources to add to the diverse industries already served by Metallix.

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Evolving with the times

As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Maria has witnessed and experienced many changes over the last 12 years and has been influential to many changes herself. Through Maria’s values, Metallix is a multicultural employer with promotions based on ability, not gender, and an environment where there is no place for discrimination or bullying. 

As 2020 has seen the impact of COVID-19 on businesses globally, Metallix has been no exception. 

Maria at the Precious Metals Refining meeting the Metallix Trucks arriving back to the Refinery (Photo courtesy Maria Piastre)

“Business models once tried and tested no longer applied, and the way to survive and grow in this new economic market would be through technology, Maria said.”Metallix has always made a significant investment in equipment and applied sciences resulting in the Metallix Precious Metals Refinery becoming a world-class facility. We now needed to apply the same approach to sales and communication,” Maria explained. 

In addition to travel and face-to-face meetings no longer possible, video conferencing and social media platforms have been tools in which to maintain stability in the supply chain.  Metallix has an experienced team of buyers providing materials management guidance and support, managing social risks to protect our employees, suppliers, and the community. 

Under Maria’s leadership, Metallix Refining Inc. strives to provide exceptional customer service with world-class facilities that continue to achieve excellence for our customers.

Ivana Sedia is helping people connect and transcend borders through language translation services

Ivana Sedia is the founder of Unida Translation, which delivers both spoken and written word translation services in over 125 languages for projects in the certified, legal, government, medical, and technical fields. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ivana moved to the U.S. with her family in 1989. In addition to her Argentinian roots, Ivana is also Italian and Macedonian and is fluent in Spanish, Italian, and English with knowledge of Macedonian.

Ivana Sedia,  Unida Translation

Ivana Sedia, founder of Unida Translation. (Photo courtesy Ivana Sedia)

A passion for language-learning sparks business 

Ivana Sedia, founder of Unida Translation. (Photo courtesy Ivana Sedia)

Ivana’s interest in languages began when she was a little girl and only continued to grow throughout her life. She is passionate about helping people and cultures transcend borders and find understanding and commonality through language. With experience with writing in Spanish and English for Latino Social Magazine and working for the government by assisting non-English speaking immigrants, an MBA in management, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, International Relations and Diplomacy with a minor in Italian, Ivana decided to open her own translation service business, Unida Translation.

The idea for her business was born after the birth of Ivana’s first child. 

Ivana recounts, “The idea of trekking from home in Indiana to Chicago downtown every day, with my new baby on my hip, was less than ideal and with the exuberant cost of daycare close to home, I chose to leave the Illinois Secretary of State and step into my new role as a full-time mom.” 

While at home, Ivana kept herself updated with the “working world” by translating documents and hosting Spanish and Italian lessons. These hobbies would eventually turn into her very own translation service business. However, like many entrepreneurs and business owners know, the road was not without some struggles. 

Ivana with her husband and two children. (Photo courtesy Ivana Sedia)

“Teaching Italian and Spanish is my passion, but I was advised by so many individuals that my classes were not going to be enough to grow my business,” said Ivana. “Then COVID-19 hit, and my clients were too afraid to come to my classes. Contracts that I had were canceled. Halfway through 2020, I thought my business was over, but then I received a surprise call and found out that I had won the Indiana Technical Assistance Program (INTAP) grant. Thanks to this grant, I was able to launch a new brand to refresh and become Unida Translation.” 

This experience taught her not to lose faith as the grant came just when she needed it most. 

“Do not lose your faith in applying for help and God,” she says to other entrepreneurs. “I applied for this grant twice and failed the first time, but then the grant came at the right time.” 

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Connecting and transcending across borders 

Ivana cites her knowledge of cultures and languages as one of her greatest strengths. It is through these strengths that she is able to help people understand each other and connect and transcend across borders. Her connections with people across the world have also helped her in her business and in the business world. Another crucial strength for Ivana was growing up in a family of entrepreneurs which gave her early life experience in business. 

“Nothing beats experience!” she says. “Even if it is experience from watching your parents sell while you were playing with your Barbies.” 

translation services, Unida Translation

Ivana and the Unida Translation team. (Photo courtesy Ivana Sedia) 

For Ivana, success is achieved whenever she is able to help people communicate and connect better. She shares with us one of her favorite stories of a time she helped someone through her translation services. 

“It is no secret to the people who really know me that I am always a hopeless romantic! Still, my favorite story about my business was when a client from the government approached me and asked me to translate a letter from English to Spanish because he wanted to ask for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage. It was such a romantic and respectful letter and I really enjoyed translating it! It is translation jobs like that sort that keep me going so that I can continue to help people communicate and in turn, achieve success.” 

To other minority women who are thinking of starting their own venture, Ivana shares a few words of wisdom that she has learned along her own journey as a Latina entrepreneur and business owner. 

“Just do it. Do not be afraid because you never know what your business will be, and you will always wonder ‘what-if.’ Of course, do not go crazy! Have limits especially on how money is spent. Also, be open to interacting with others, put all your insecurities and judgement aside. Lock it up! Ask questions and mingle with others so get off your phone. To the women who want to be successful in their professions or careers and I think the same applies to entrepreneurs, remember that learning is never enough. Go get that degree or take that course to get certified. After all, like my mom always said to me, ‘They can take away your car, house, man, friends, ideas, but no one can take away your degree or certification!’”