Monica Olivera shares resources for Hispanic families homeschooling post-pandemic

Monica Olivera is an author, a freelance education writer/materials creator, and founder of the educational resources site MommyMaestra.com where she focuses on resources for Hispanic homeschoolers, bilingual educators, and parents who simply want to be more involved in their children’s education. 

She has been writing about education for the last decade with a special emphasis on education for Hispanic families and bilingual education. Her articles have appeared on sites such as NBC.com, PBS Parents, and Woo! Jr. 

Hispanic heritage, homeschooling, and building a business 

Homeschooling has been a popular topic in the past year since the Covid-19 pandemic swept the globe and schools shut down long-term. Virtual learning became a divisive topic, with many parents expressing frustration with homeschooling while other parents readily embraced the change. 

According to a recent article from the Washington Post, the percentage of children in homeschooling has nearly tripled since mid-2019. The U.S. Census Bureau found that as of May 2021, more than 1 out of every 12 students is being homeschooled. 

Monica Olivera, author, a freelance education writer/materials creator, and founder of MommyMaestra.com (Photo courtesy Monica Olivera)

For Monica, her journey in the world of homeschooling began long before the pandemic, nearly a decade ago. Her choice to homeschool her young children was spurred by her desire to share her Hispanic heritage with her children and give them a culturally diverse curriculum that public schools were lacking. 

After moving to a small farming community away from family, Monica wished to nurture her children’s knowledge of Hispanic heritage and culture but struggled to find resources. She never planned to homeschool her children, but living in a failed school district where the state had closed one school and taken over the other, homeschooling seemed like the only option available. 

“I was terrified,” Monica said. “But I quickly grew to love it and realized that it provided the perfect opportunity to teach my kids about their heritage.” 

When searching for resources for Hispanic homeschoolers online proved to be difficult, Monica decided to start her own blog as a way to share what she was finding with other Hispanic homeschooling families. Soon, she began creating her own downloadable materials and her unexpected business took off.

“The cultural experiences of my childhood completely shaped my business. I wanted to pass on my heritage to my own children, and that passion grew until I one day realized that I didn’t want a great education with an emphasis on heritage just for my kids, but for all Hispanic children,” said Monica. 

Over the years, Monica has expanded her knowledge and appreciation beyond her own Spanish Mexican American heritage to encompass all Hispanic cultures and share the beauty of Hispanic heritage with a greater audience. 

“I love learning about and creating materials about other Spanish-speaking countries and cultures,” she said. “Helping children learn about and embrace their family’s heritage benefits everyone. Teaching non-Hispanic children about the culture also nurtures appreciation and breaks down stereotypes.”

MommyMaestra.com provides hundreds of resources for Hispanic homeschooling families.

Why homeschooling increased during the pandemic 

For parents who have recently embraced homeschooling due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are a variety of factors that led to their choice, the pandemic of course being the most prominent one. 

However, while homeschooling has been most commonly found among White, religious families in the past, the recent increase in homeschooling has been seen among Black, Latino, and Asian families. For Black and Latino students, the homeschooling rate of increase has been dramatic. Between 2019 and May 2021 the homeschooling rate went from 1 percent to 8 percent for Black students and from 2 percent to 9 percent for Hispanic students, the Washington Post reported. 

This jump was influenced by more than just the pandemic. Other factors such as racism, discrimination, and a lack of cultural diversity in school curriculums influenced parents in their decision to homeschool their children full-time. 

You might be interested: So-called ‘good’ suburban schools often require trade-offs for Latino students

Many parents, like Monica, were inspired to use homeschooling as an opportunity to teach their children about their culture and heritage and provide them with a less biased curriculum. For many, the pandemic was simply the catalyst they needed to take the plunge into homeschooling. 

The Latino Family’s Guide to Homeschooling is a comprehensive guide to help families get started on their homeschooling journeys. (Photo courtesy Monica Olivera)

“I wrote my first book – The Latino Family’s Guide to Homeschooling – completely unaware that a pandemic was coming,” Monica shared. “When Covid hit, Hispanic families began flocking to homeschooling, especially when they realized that it was an opportunity to nurture their children’s bilingualism.” 

Monica’s book and printable downloads of reading passages, games, and activities that feature Hispanic figures, holidays, and traditions have been sought after by families across the country. 

Creating a community for Hispanic homeschooling families 

As more and more families embark on their homeschooling journeys, Monica’s resources continue to provide Hispanic families with the necessary tools to navigate homeschooling with ease. 

It’s never too early to start homeschooling. This guide helps caregivers homeschool the youngest of students. (Photo courtesy Monica Olivera)

For Monica, each of her own successes in her business means children across the country are learning to appreciate the beauty of Hispanic cultures and to be proud of their heritage. 

“I know that by helping parents help their kids, I’m helping individuals and families succeed and be happy,” she said. 

“I think what I love most about my business is reading the testimonials/reviews made by people who use my education materials. I also love hearing from parents and educators who write to me asking for help or guidance to find materials or asking where to start with homeschooling. I’m especially proud of the active Hispanic & Bilingual Homeschoolers group that I started on Facebook. There are so many great parents helping each other in that group.” 

When Monica started out, she was alone searching for resources to help teach her children. Now, a decade later, Monica has built a community for Hispanic homeschooling families to share and grow. 

For those who are at the beginning of their own journeys as homeschooling parents or entrepreneurs, Monica encourages that you continue to persist. 

“It’s okay to get discouraged from time to time. And you will most likely have days that you consider giving up. But if you believe in yourself and what you can do – especially if others try to convince you otherwise – you can achieve greatness. Always be honest and always help others. It will come back to you in abundance.”

Sisters Hilda and Sarah Perez Jarrett challenge the status quo as Latina entrepreneurs

Hilda Perez and Sarah Perez Jarrett are the COO and CEO, respectively, of SALUD. Founded in 1991 by their father, Dr. José Rigoberto Pérez Díaz, SALUD has made all-natural, high quality health and wellness products for over 25 years. Today, the two Dominican sisters are continuing to grow and expand the company, challenging the status quo, and crafting their own American Dream through entrepreneurship. 

Latina sisters challenge the status quo 

SALUD grew from humble roots, beginning as a small, Latino-focused mail-order company catering to the greater New York City area via a health food store and nutritional consulting practice. 

Hilda and Sarah’s father started the business with a passion to help his community with traditional knowledge to treat many common ailments. Today, his mission continues: to make natural health accessible to everyone. 

“When we first joined the team, we had the opportunity to expand our father’s dream by launching community health events with local partners and fine tuning our product line,” said Hilda and Sarah. “We also expanded our reach by bringing the small brick and mortar store to the digital and ecommerce age.” 

As Latinas, joining the world of entrepreneurship and business was “no easy task” they said. The sisters struggled at first to find their footing. It took a lot of “grit, empathy, hustle and heart,” but soon they found their way and began carving their own path. Like many women in business, they also faced sexism from colleagues and vendors who doubted their skill and expertise. 

“As a legacy business, we had to learn to grow outside our father’s shadow. Therefore, one of the biggest struggles has been commanding respect from our father’s colleagues or business vendors,” the sisters shared. 

“Dr. José Rigoberto Pérez Díaz is well-loved and respected in our community. He was extremely supportive when we became co-owners of the business. However, we undoubtedly faced  sexism and disrespect from his colleagues or vendors who were used to working with a man instead of two young women.” 

To overcome this challenge, the sisters had to be savvy in navigating relationships and strong willed when commanding respect as they pushed the company’s vision forward. Together, they jumped over every hurdle, receiving support from their father and supporting each other along the way. 

“As a legacy business, we had to learn to grow outside our father’s shadow.” (Photo courtesy SALUD).

Another struggle they faced was creating change within the company. As young women, they knew that to compete with their peers and create a larger impact, the company would need to bring their operations and services to the digital world. Many members at the time were hesitant of this change, scared to shake the status quo and set out on an unfamiliar path. The change would not be easy, either. 

“To make it even more challenging, we had to do this with very little knowledge and resources at the time. It required an immense amount of patience, communication, and professional development,” said the sisters. 

However, Hilda and Sarah were determined to push the business forward and expand its reach beyond the status quo. They joined business roundtables, went back to business school, and participated in certificate programs at Stanford University and Columbia University. They did everything they could to better themselves and deliver the best for their business because they were filled with a passion to grow and make a greater impact. 

“We are happy to say that our company has grown significantly by committing to grow ourselves as owners. We did that by being curious and not being afraid to ask for help. When a challenge came up, we made sure to learn about it, or find the help we needed to tackle it. We believe that curiosity and commitment are a big part of being business owners”

You might be interested: Hilda Mera: “I could break with stereotypes and be a role model for my community”

Finding strength in teamwork and community 

Sarah Perez Jarrett, CEO and Vice President of SALUD. (Photo courtesy SALUD)

Working together, not just between themselves, but with their team, has been one of their greatest strengths as minority business owners. Many entrepreneurs try to go it alone or take on too much, leading to burnout. But Hilda and Sarah know there is strength in teamwork. They believe in creating a team that believes in the greater vision of the company. Their team has become a family. 

“We have team members that have been with us for over 15 years. From celebrating weddings and quinceaneras to welcoming new additions to families. We persevered through recessions, pandemics and mourned deaths together. Despite these adversaries, our core team has remained intact and has remained flexible. We all have enjoyed the entrepreneurial roller coaster.” 

As every Latino knows, community is everything. Community is family. And SALUD’s family extends beyond its team to their loyal community of customers. In 2017, during one of their most difficult times as entrepreneurs, Hilda and Sarah saw just how much their customers valued SALUD. 

“We had a major opportunity to pilot our products with a national retailer. However, our supplier at the time was being difficult and did not want to offer the necessary insurances we needed to proceed with the contract. We then had to move to another lab. When the former supplier was informed, he got so angry at losing out on the contract, he refused to make any of our products! We were in complete shock. Within weeks we no longer had inventory. We were a retail business, with no products to retail. It was a threat to the survival of our business, and above all, for our team and clients that depended on our health products,” the sisters shared. 

Hilda Perez, COO and Vice President of SALUD. (Photo courtesy SALUD)

This dark time seemed hopeless at first. They worried that they would lose their entire client-base and feared what would happen to their business. However, they soon learned one of their biggest lessons. They chose to be transparent with their customers, informing them that the company was moving labs and that it would take months for products to arrive. 

“To our incredible surprise they understood and kept on buying products on pre-order! This was a lifeline and a testament to the loyalty we had with our customers. We learned that transparency is critical and when you have a quality product and strong team, your customers will support you in your hardest moments. That was one key moment that made us know what we have is special; it was poised to grow.” 

Their journey as Latina entrepreneurs has been full of highs and lows, but seeing the impact of their work, challenging the status quo, and watching their company grow has been worth it. 

“Being an entrepreneur is difficult, we won’t sugarcoat it. There are weeks when you don’t know if bills will get paid, if suppliers will pull out of deals. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you also find yourself celebrating an employee who was able to buy their first home thanks to your support. If you have a real passion for what product or service you want to bring to the world, or use your talents to make something better for someone, then go for it!” Hilda and Sarah advise. Start now, and educate yourself with the plethora of free resources out there to make you a stronger entrepreneur.” 

Hilda Mera: “I could break with stereotypes and be a role model for my community”

Hilda Mera is the co-founder and CEO of S&A Auto Repair. As an Ecuadorian immigrant and woman in the auto industry, Hilda has learned to navigate the many challenges of entrepreneurship and being a woman in a male dominated industry.

She has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Executives for dedication, achievements, and leadership in management and business operations and in 2016 she was notably honored as VIP Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women. Most recently in July 2021, Hilda was awarded as one of The Top 100 Leaders in Transportation and Automotive by the International Transportation and Automotive Summit.

Navigating obstacles as a woman in the auto industry 

Founded in April of 2013 by Hilda and her husband, Jose Masache, S&A Auto Repair is a family-owned business located in Newark, New Jersey providing honest and professional auto service in the areas of mechanical, electrical, and diagnosis. 

Their journey as entrepreneurs began after Jose grew tired of working as a mechanic for someone else. The couple began searching for a place where they could start their own garage. After an unsuccessful first try, a friend pointed them in the direction of a rental space that would soon become their business. 

The rental space needed work. It was “a mess” as Hilda described it. But they were determined to make it their own by fixing it up and giving the space a fresh new look. 

S&A Auto Repair, founded in 2013 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo via Instagram)

As they embarked on their journey, they soon learned the many obstacles and struggles of owning and running a business. Not only was everything was new, they lacked the knowledge on how to start and run a business and also lacked the capital. 

“It was hard because we had no money and a lack of knowledge. We took the risk of our lives going into business. We did not have a lease, (we were month by month for about 5 years). Today, I realize how dangerous it was and that we could have been asked to leave the auto shop at any time. However, we never, even thought of giving up,” said Hilda. 

Despite these great challenges starting out, for Hilda, the biggest challenge has been being a woman in the auto industry, an industry that has traditionally been dominated by men. However, this challenge has also become one of her greatest strengths driving her toward success. 

“I do not fix cars, but that does not mean I can not manage/run a business. It does not mean I can not learn to understand my car. Becoming an entrepreneur has been one of the best things that could happen to me. This way I feel I can leave a legacy for my kids, be a role model for women of my community, and break with stereotypes,” said Hilda. 

 

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Another strength Hilda draws upon in the face of challenges is her faith. As a woman of faith, Hilda is positive, honest, and determined. “I believe that everyone has a purpose. I have found mine, therefore, I ask God for wisdom so I can accomplish it. Every time I work on a project or  strategy to make my business grow, I put it in God’s hands.” 

Her faith and positivity make her confident, even when things don’t always turn out the way she wants, she still looks at every situation with a positive outlook. 

Now, Hilda feels grateful for everything they had to go through because it taught her so much about running a business. Like all challenges, overcoming them makes people stronger.

“I learned how important it is to have the social and working capital to succeed. I learned to overcome any obstacles that we have encountered during these eight years in business. I learned that with faith, discipline, consistency and honesty everything is possible.” 

You might be interested: Jennifer Garcia tells you how to leave a secure job to launch your dream business

Women empowerment through knowledge and education  

As a woman in the auto industry, Hilda is committed to using her business to empower the community, especially women, through educational auto workshops. 

For Hilda, trust and education are important. According to the American Automotive Association, 66% of American drivers do not trust auto mechanics. Customers are often overcharged, do not trust their cars are being fixed properly, or recommend unnecessary repairs. Women are also often taken advantage of due to a lack of knowledge about cars. 

Hilda shares a story about a past client’s experience and how it inspired her to create her own educational auto workshops for women. 

S&A Auto Repair Woman’s Seminar, March 2020. (Photo source)

The client came into the shop looking for a price for a transmission. Hilda offered to give an estimate but first wanted her husband to check and see if that was what the client really needed. 

“They both went and took a ride. When they came back, my husband put the car in the lift and showed her under the car. The noise that she was hearing and the reason she was told that needed to change the transmission was metal that was hanging under the car. She got really upset. That got me so upset and I talked to my husband about doing something to help women,” Hilda recounts. 

That day, she made the decision to empower herself in the industry so she could empower other women through educational workshops. 

“I like the fact that I am a woman working in an industry that is mainly dominated by men, therefore, it makes me feel stronger and capable of accomplishing anything in this life.” 

Knowledge is power, especially in industries where women are underrepresented. For women looking to start their own business or advance in their field, Hilda recommends gathering the necessary knowledge first, then go for it and take every opportunity given. 

“We are strong and smart enough to accomplish anything we want in this life. We are capable of overcoming any obstacle, because the only limit is oneself. Be honest and consistent all the time.”

Ronit Shiro shares the gift of bilingualism with children through FeppyBox

Ronit Shiro is the creator and founder of FeppyBox — a bilingual subscription box designed to immerse kids ages 3-6 in Spanish and English language learning. 

FeppyBox makes it easier for parents to raise their children bilingually, in a fun way that feels more like playing than learning. With the mission to connect kids with the globe through language, in order to build a more inclusive and FEPPIER world around them, FeppyBox strives to raise the next generation of open- minded, global citizens. 

FeppyBox

FeppyBox helps parents to raise their children bilingually, in a fun way that feels more like playing than learning. (Photo courtesy FeppyBox)

Sharing the gift of bilingualism with children 

FeppyBox was born out of Ronit Shiro’s passion for learning, traveling, and connecting with people. Language was the common thread that brought all these passions together. 

FeppyBox creator and founder Ronit Shiro. (Photo courtesy FeppyBox)

Born in Venezuela to immigrant parents, Ronit was lucky to learn and speak more than one language. At the time she did not understand the importance of bilingualism or the opportunities it would offer. Later, as an adult and mom herself, she would come to understand that bilingualism is one of the greatest gifts she could give her children. 

“In our case, being bilingual means being able to connect with grandparents and friends, but it’s also a tool that creates opportunities for the future,” said Ronit. “It connects us to other cultures. It opens doors.” 

This is where the idea for FeppyBox began to take shape. Ronit began to ask: How can we provide tools to families to make language learning fun and meaningful? How can we give kids entertaining and creative ways to learn? 

From there, the subscription box service began to take form and was given its name: FeppyBox, from combining the word haPPY in English and Spanish (FEliz), to embody all parents’ ultimate purpose: to see their kids happy. In 2020, FeppyBox launched and has been growing steadily since. 

Raising bilingual children through immersive learning

By combining learning with play, FeppyBox makes language learning fun and easy. Each FeppyBox includes stories, music, and games designed so children can learn, laugh, and live in two languages. 

“From our customers, we’re learning that you don’t have to be bilingual to raise a bilingual child, and we’re seeing that play-based learning takes some of the mystery out of bilingualism,” said Ronit. “The spark of bilingualism happens when a kid connects the content in both languages.”

FeppyBox

FeppyBox offers a variety of activities to make language learning fun and immersive for children and parents. (Photo courtesy FeppyBox)

With a variety of activities, children and parents are able to engage with language in different formats. Feppy Book offers an original story in both English and Spanish and includes exclusive access to its Audio Video Book, which provides unlimited fun learning and supports pronunciation. Each Audio Video Book can be watched in English or Spanish. 

Next, Feppy Play offers a hands-on activity to encourage bilingual play-based learning. Feppy Music gives children a new song with bilingual lyrics and exclusive online access to Feppy Music. Feppy Music adapts versions of traditional children’s songs introducing Merengueton, Salsa/Trap Reggaeton/Vallenato, Electro Mambo and other Latin rhythms. 

FeppyBox

Feppy Play offers a hands-on activity to encourage bilingual play-based learning. (Photo courtesy FeppyBox). 

Finally, Feppy Parents is a unique Parent Guide to support ongoing immersive learning. Every item in FeppyBox is fully bilingual, so parents don’t need to know both languages to share 

FeppyBox is a gift that allows children to connect and grow as global citizens. For bilingual families, it is also a way for family members to connect, even across great distances. 

“We are happy to learn that grandparents have bought FeppyBox for their grandchildren as a way to connect with them,” Ronit shared. “One grandparent sent us a note telling us that, even though he lives far away from his grandson, they look forward to every box and sharing what’s inside.” 

You might be interested: ‘Diary of a Future President’ empowers young Latinas to dream big 

Tip for entrepreneurs: “Believe in yourself and in your ideas” 

Ronit’s personal philosophy as an entrepreneur is to embrace the uncomfortable and continue to move forward striving for something new and better and to seek progress over perfection. 

Creating FeppyBox was a gift of love and a passion project for her, but that does not mean there were no challenges or struggles along the way. Starting out, Ronit had to wear many hats, juggling management, customer service, and delivery. Her strength through all of this was her ability to problem solve 24/7 and be comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

“Everyday my team and I are uncomfortable, it means we are moving forward because we are doing something new, mastering a new process and doing something better. I truly believe in seeing the positive side of being uncomfortable. If you’re uncomfortable it means you’re discovering something new and moving your business forward,” said Ronit.

To minority women thinking of starting their own business, Ronit advises, “It is very important to believe in yourself and your ideas. We can ask for advice, but deep down we have to trust and believe in what we are creating.” 

Most importantly, she reminds aspiring entrepreneurs to seek progress over perfection and keep moving forward, even when things get uncomfortable. 

“Perfection can paralyze us, and as entrepreneurs it is important to advance, to move forward. It’s ok to pivot and to evolve.” 

National Small Business Week delivers virtual summit for post-COVID renewal resources

National Small Business Week commences with three-day free virtual summit from September 13 – 15, 2021. 

Hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), virtual summit will focus on the resilience and renewal of small businesses as they build back from the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

The National Small Business Week virtual summit will feature a variety of virtual events and activities including educational panels providing tools and practices for entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to pivot and recover post-COVID. With panels such as “The Importance of Black and Brown Community: Coming Together to Support Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, and Small Business Day”, “Empowering the Veteran and Military Small Business Community”, “Unlocking the Doors to Access for Black-Owned Businesses: Funders and Founders Share Their Real-Life Stories” and more on the agenda, the diverse and inclusive summit offers resources and tools to support all business owners expand and succeed. 

Register now for the free three-day virtual summit. 

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. (Photo Source)

“Over the last 16 months, we have seen the incredible determination and ingenuity of small businesses across the nation.  During NSBW, we will honor and celebrate their impact on our economy and strengthening of communities as we look towards recovery,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman in a video message

As the 27th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Guzman represents the more than 30 million U.S. small businesses and is committed to helping small business owners and entrepreneurs start, grow and be resilient. 

The SBA works to empower entrepreneurs and small business owners by providing the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from disaster. The organization delivers services through its extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. 

You might be interested: Latina Leaders share small business post-Covid recovery resources 

“NSBW is the perfect time for small businesses across the nation to network and learn about the many services and programs at the U.S. Small Business Administration, including our no-cost business counseling and mentoring opportunities available via our district offices and resource partners. We look forward to celebrating with you as we rebuild our economy and help our small businesses build back better,” Administrator Guzman added. 

About SBA

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) works to ignite change and spark action so small businesses can confidently start, grow, expand, or recover. Created in 1953, the U.S. Small Business Administration continues to help small business owners and entrepreneurs pursue the American dream. SBA is the only cabinet-level federal agency fully dedicated to small business and provides counseling, capital, and contracting expertise as the nation’s only go-to resource and voice for small businesses.

Networking blast, workshop, summer speaker series,

Join us for our Summer Speakers Series and Networking Blast Events

Join us for our Summer Speakers Series and Networking Blast events for entrepreneurs and business owners, and participate in a chance to win a ticket to the Fashion Designers of Latin America LIVE Shows in NYC! 

Latinas in Business is excited to announce the return of our Summer Speakers Series and Networking Blast events, but with a twist!

Networking blast, workshop, summer speaker series,

If you did not have the chance to attend these workshops during the 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit that took place in June, now you can!  And also have a chance to win a ticket to the Fashion Designers of Latin America LIVE Shows in NYC. 

Women entrepreneurs and business owners, you won’t want to miss out on these fantastic events and networking opportunities. Meet us at our Networking Blast to talk about you and your business and connect with other entrepreneurs! Members and non-members, we invite you to share your experiences!

Register ASAP to receive your private link to these must-see workshops

How to participate in the Summer Series Networking Blast events

The Networking Blast events will take place over the course of three Wednesdays throughout August, starting on August 4th. Attend these Summer Series and gain the tools you need to THRIVE in business!

  1. First, register and select one, two, or all three Networking Blasts! One extra ticket to be raffled among all those who sign up for all 3 workshops.
  2. You will receive a private link to watch a workshop at your convenience during the week previous to the Networking Blast.
  3. Open the link, watch the YouTube private video. Participants should watch at least 15 minutes of the video to participate in the FDLA ticket raffle. Then, leave a comment so we know it was you!
  4. Show up at that same week’s Networking Blast from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
  5. All participants who left a comment on the YouTube private link will participate in a raffle of a ticket** to:

Fashion Designers of Latin America LIVE Shows in NYC. (Photo courtesy FDLA)

The Fashion Designers of Latin America LIVE Shows will take place on September 8 and 9, 2021 in NYC. Each FDLA VIP Ticket (Value $250) includes:

  • Access to all Shows
  • Red Carpet Reception
  • Open Bar
  • Gift Bag

** Ticket does not include any other cash or in-kind compensation or accommodation. It’s personal and non-transferable. Certain restrictions apply. Not valid where the raffle is not legal. Only available in the US.

Our must-attend workshops

These three stellar workshops from industry leaders were featured during our THRIVE! 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit in June. Each of these three featured workshops will help you gain the tools and resources you need to grow your business and reach your next business goals. 

Workshop 1: Grow with Google 

First, learn how to utilize Google to increase your business’s visibility with Sandra Elise Garcia’s workshop. Want to know how to make your business stand out online? Or how to make your business appear on the first page of a Google search? This workshop will teach you all about the different tools and resources Google offers to maximize your business’ visibility online. 

small business, entrepreneur, women entrepreneurs, networking blast

Register ASAP to receive your private link to Speaker Sandra Elisa Garcia

Sandra Elisa Garcia is a Marketing and Branding strategist and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consultant. Her corporate experience includes organizations such as Clear Channel Outdoor, Time Warner Cable Media, PEOPLE.com, and CNNMoney.com developing marketing strategies and compelling sales programs. Sandra has strategized for brands such as Toyota, L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Apple, Verizon Wireless, Sephora, Pepsi, and American Express to name a few.

You might be interested: Grow with Google: Lucy Pinto discusses digital tools, trends, and resources for small businesses 

Workshop 2: Real Strategies to Access Business Funding

Every business needs funding to expand and create new products. Join Peggy Paulson and Orlando Camargo as they explore real funding options to help you grow your business. 

small business, entrepreneur, women entrepreneurs, networking blast

Register ASAP to receive your private link to Speakers Peggy Paulson and Orlando Camargo.

Orlando Camargo is the Vice President | SBA Business Development Officer for Valley National Bank in Totowa NJ.

Peggy Paulson is the Vice President | SBA BDO, SBA Department at Valley National Bank in Jericho, NY.

Workshop 3: Increase Revenue with Sustainable Practices 

Finally, sustainability is key to keeping businesses running and adapting to changing times. Join Apple White and Dorothy Kahlau to learn sustainable practices you can implement into your business that not only motivate employee engagement and encourage technological solutions but also save your company money. 

small business, entrepreneur, women entrepreneurs, networking blast

Register ASAP to receive your private link to Speakers Apple White and Dorothy Kahlau

Apple White joined Valley National Bank in 2020 as the Workplace and Environmental Sustainability Strategy Manager. As a champion of effective change management, she provides solutions to amplify Valley’s workplace experience through space design, technology enablement, and workforce flexibility. She also drives environmental sustainability programs throughout the organization by partnering with purchasing, facilities, construction, and business group leaders.

Dorothy Kahlau is Valley Bank’s Director of Women in Business program, a multistate program designed to support women at all stages of their career and business: from aspiring women in business to well-established executives and anywhere in between. In this position, she fosters connections and encourages collaboration between women to help them take their business to the next level.

5 Inevitable steps before launching a business

Launching a business often seems easier said than done. Our amazing and inspiring community of women entrepreneurs makes it seem effortless. Even when we hear how they struggled and the obstacles they had to overcome, it can still look like success came easy.

Or maybe that negative voice in your head, also known as imposter syndrome, is telling you that you don’t have what it takes to do what others have done. Maybe you feel that it’s easier for other entrepreneurs because they’re more skilled or more talented. But that’s far from the truth. We all are capable of success. If you want to learn the secrets to successfully launch your dream into a business, then read on as we share 5 key steps every aspiring entrepreneur needs to know.

“If you’ve been considering starting a business for some time, stop letting your fears and worries keep from making it a reality,” says Melinda Emerson, known to many as @SmallBizLady, on Small Business Trends.  She is a Veteran Entrepreneur, Small Business Coach and Social Media Strategist who hosts #Smallbizchat for emerging entrepreneurs on Twitter.

Manuel Martinez, president and CEO of the Los Angeles-based Success Training Institute, said, “preparation, preparation, preparation” are the three keys to successfully launching a business, during a  Money Talk on KCAA Radio segment.

While it seems prudent to launch a business during good economic times, “anytime is a good time to start a business,” said Martinez, who offers education and advice to small business owners. He said that success has less to do with the economy and more to do with being prepared. He stressed that the prepared entrepreneur will have the greatest shot at success even over well-established but ill-prepared competitors.

“Without proper market research and a solid business plan, a business is more likely to fail,” according to The Ultimate Small Business Guide. “The more advanced preparation that is done, the better the chances for success.”

launching a business, startup

Preparation is key before launching a business, according to expert Manuel Martinez. (Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash)

Being prepared means knowing as much as possible about a proposed venture. Entrepreneurs will significantly benefit from having firsthand experience with the type of enterprise being launched. Regardless of their business acumen, entrepreneurs who lack hands-on experience will be at a disadvantage over better prepared and informed competitors.

The following five key steps to help aspiring entrepreneurs prepare for a new business launch.

5 Key steps to launching a business

1. TRADE: Know the trade

Don’t assume that a decade working as a waitress or bartender provides the necessary insight and experience to successfully run a restaurant or bar of one’s own. There’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes. Entrepreneurs need to know what it takes to run the entire operation.

Martinez encouraged entrepreneurs to “do something familiar,” adding, “Don’t do what you don’t know.” Those seeking to launch a business should spend time doing the work at a comprehensive level.

Entrepreneurs with no experience in a specific industry should seek a position to learn the business, spending sufficient time to learn about it from top to bottom. Once the doors of a new company are opened, plenty of day-to-day issues will pile up, without the owner having to learn the business from scratch.

2. LAUNCH: Understand exactly what launching a business entails

All small businesses require some form of licensing, such as a business permit, resale license or liquor license. Find out what necessary. Consult with a professional to learn the requirements. Reach out to organizations such as the SCORE and the Small Business Development Centers network of the Small Business Administration for free guidance.

FindLaw provides a list of commonly required licenses and permits, including state and local business licenses, registration for taxes, an occupational or resale license, a business name registration, and zoning, health, building and environmental permits. Business owners should carefully consider the licenses and permits required as well as the cost and time frames for approval.

3. COST: Estimate start-up costs

According to the Small Business Administration, “Since every business is different, and has its own specific cash needs at different stages of development, there is no universal method for estimating your startup costs.”

Entrepreneurs must create a budget and conduct a cash-flow analysis that begins with startup expenses, such as costs for permits and licenses, and extends past the anticipated break-even date. A business owner should determine needs versus wants when weighing where to spend cash and also allow for additional funds in case the break-even points arrives later than expected.

Appropriate cash management makes the difference between open and closed doors in the startup phase.

You might be interested: Alice Rodriguez: Overcoming obstacles and the power to succeed in business and life

4. BUSINESS PLAN: Create a business plan and follow it.

Starting a business and keeping it running is like maintaining a garden: To keep it healthy and producing fruit, it needs continual tending. Create a business plan and follow it daily, to develop the business, staff and products. Keep a finger on the company’s pulse and adapt.

“The importance of planning should never be overlooked,” according to TD Bank‘s website. “Taking time to create an extensive business plan provides you with insight into your business.”

5. RISKS: Manage risks.

“Make sure you are protected from anything that might take down your business that you worked so hard to build,” said Hunter Hoffmann, head of U.S. Communications at Hiscox Small Business Insurance of White Plains, N.Y., during a Money Talk radio interview.

“Entrepreneurs too often fail to properly insure their businesses,” noted insurance broker Dave Terpening Torrance, Calif., during an interview. “They roll the dice hoping for the best.”

“Insurance professionals can be great sounding boards to business owners,” he added. “An experienced insurance professional has seen and heard the horror stories and can advise new business owners on how to best create an affordable and effective risk management strategy.”


This article was originally written by Jesse Torres and published in 2015. It has been updated for relevancy. 

spanish children's books

Vic Sanchez, founder of Libro Magico Amarillo, shares pandemic lessons learned and exciting future plans

Maria Victoria “Vic” Sanchez is the creator and founder of Libro Magico Amarillo, a publishing company that creates personalized Spanish children’s books that offer a mix of adventures and educational content that keep children engaged and reading longer, all while playing and having fun. Her books also serve as a tool for parents raising bilingual children, helping them foster a love and appreciation of Hispanic language and culture in their children. 

Libro Magico Amarillo, spanish children's books

Maria Victoria “Vic” Sanchez, creator and founder of Libro Magico Amarillo.

We shared Vic’s story last September and we were so inspired by her love for books and her commitment to child education. Vic began her business last June, in the thick of the pandemic–talk about a challenge! But she rose to that challenge and persevered because she believed in her vision and was ready to make her childhood dreams of telling stories a reality. 

Now, nearly a year after launching her business, Vic shares with us some lessons learned and her plans for the future, because yes, it is only just the beginning! 

Running a business during a pandemic: Lessons Learned

As many of you know first hand, running a business this past year has not been easy. Many business owners and entrepreneurs have struggled to stay afloat and adapt to the “new normal” that the COVID-19 pandemic brought upon us all. Latina business owners were disproportionately affected according to the 2020 State of Latino Entrepreneurship Report.

Despite these odds, many Latina-owned businesses found new, creative ways to THRIVE and regain their power, such as turning to Instagram to advertise and grow their businesses

You might be interested: THRIVE! What to expect from deep-dive workshops at 2021 WEES

As an entrepreneur who launched her business in the thick of the pandemic, Vic experienced her share of challenges but shares with us now her lessons learned and advice to other women entrepreneurs and minority business owners. 

Be patient and think outside the box 

“Things take time,” she says, “and we need to be patient, thinking positively, while we continue working on what we believe in.” (Photo courtesy Maria Victoria Sanchez).

One key lesson Vic learned this past year was to be patient. Worrying and stressing will not help in the long run and only lead to more anxiety. Instead, Vic learned to let go, and this has helped her manage her anxiety better and overall feel better. 

“Things take time,” she says, “and we need to be patient, thinking positively, while we continue working on what we believe in.” 

Working on a long-term project or business is not something that always yields quick results. Instead of treating it like a sprint, we must look at each project as a marathon. As the old saying goes: “Slow and steady wins the race.” If we are constantly worrying and rushing we will surely burn out quickly. But by practicing patience and continuing our work at a steady pace, we will soon see those results and feel better too. 

In conjunction with this idea of taking the slow path is another lesson learned: take a different path too! Or, think outside the box. 

When things are not working one way, “sometimes you need to reshuffle,” says Vic. If you feel stuck, consider a new perspective. There is never just one way to do something, just as there can be multiple paths to get to the same place. 

“Things will work out for the best in the end.” 

Do all things with love and collaborate

The third lesson Vic learned during the pandemic is the power of collaboration and that when you do things with love, you bring together that same positive energy to others. Vic always brings that love to everything she does and has been working to help others during the pandemic. 

“I have been dedicating a lot of my efforts to doing pro bono work for fellow entrepreneurs,” Vic shares. “Some weeks ago I participated in a conference for entrepreneurs in Patagonia, where I am originally from. I am happy to help in any way.” 

To other women and minority entrepreneurs, Vic says to join in by collaborating with others and seek help when you need it. 

“This pandemic has been especially hard for women, for caregivers, and for minority women. There are amazing organizations, like Latinas in Business, bringing mentoring and educating us. If you need help, speak up! We are all here to help one another. Nothing can stop what you set your mind to. Women are serious, focused workers. We get things done.” 

Help support El Libro Magico Amarillo!

The future is bright and a year after launching her business, Vic is ready to expand and take things to the next level, but this dream cannot be achieved alone. 

“We are working on a crowdfunding campaign to produce two new books and accelerate our digital marketing efforts,” says Vic. “We want to reach out and impact more families, connecting kids with books and loved ones. Books can always provide a refuge for kids, as we have seen during the pandemic.” 

The upcoming Kickstarter will work to accelerate the company’s growth and produce two new books. 

“My dream is to grow our inventory and with this campaign we hope to do so with two new books. One is about the myth of the minotaur and the other one is about El Dia de los Muertos, as homage to all Latinas from Mexico.” 

spanish children's books, Libro Magico Amarillo

Libro Magico Amarillo’s current Spanish children’s books.

To support Vic and her dream she asks that people subscribe to El Libro Magico Amarillo’s newsletter by registering on their site. The newsletter will keep subscribers up to date when the campaign launches. 

“The only way we can succeed is through the generous support of all you Latinas! Please subscribe to our site and follow and share our campaign with friends and contacts when we launch. This is our first crowdfunding project ever and it would be great to have your support and good energy!” 

As fellow Latinas, minority business owners, and entrepreneurs it’s so important that we support each other. So let’s all give some love and support to Vic and El Libro Magico Amarillo.

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Rosario B. Casas shares how the pandemic has accelerated technology and tech trends to keep an eye on

Since the pandemic, businesses have been forced to adapt to the “new normal,” causing a huge rise in tech advancement, tech trends, and reliance on digital tools to thrive. 

Women-in-tech leader Rosario B. Casas is building a community for the digital transformation and business growth of Hispanic entrepreneurs. (Photo courtesy Rosario B. Casas)

During Latina in Business’ March virtual panel, “Latina Small Business Post-Covid: Recovery Resources and Trends,” panelists discussed how the pandemic has shifted our relationship with technology. Now more than ever, businesses are relying on digital tools to connect with customers, grow, and thrive. 

Rosario B. Casas, award-winning women-in-tech advocate and co-founder of Business Creative Partners, BCPartnersTech, shared some insights on recent tech trends that have emerged since the pandemic. 

The pandemic fueled huge leaps in tech advancement

Speaking with panel moderator, Pilar Avila, Latinas in Business executive board member and founder of Renovad Experiential Retreats, Rosario shared some insights into the world of tech. In our increasingly fast paced world, tech is always changing and growing. However the pandemic caused an even greater push to the pace of change. 

Rosario B Casas, Colombian born serial entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Business Creative Partners (BCPartnersTech), and award-winning women-in-tech advocate.

Rosario B. Casas 12:30 

Since the pandemic has started, we finally realized that the world is not going back to where we were before. It means that the pace of change will be increasing, like double every year. I mean, many technologies, and in the use of technology, the world advanced like 10 years, during the pandemic. It means companies finally understood that they can’t fuel their companies or can’t plan their companies without the use of technology to be more efficient. But with all this, and in every industry, if you see, we realize that sustainable energy is important. Finally, we get that point. And of course, many industries will need to update their sensors, their installations, everything. And with that, what comes is basically that training and education and learning is not anymore, an alternative, it’s a must. It is not possible to think that I will keep being myself with what I know today for the next years to come. 

Rosario emphasizes that going forward, as tech advancement continues, adaptation and lifelong learning will be a must, not just for individuals, but companies and organizations as well. For businesses to thrive, post-pandemic, and keep up with evolving tech trends they will need to start adapting and learning side-by-side with the changing technologies. 

Rosario B. Casas 14:30

It means acquiring new skills every day to be updated….And also upscaling, it means if I already know how to do this, how I’m jumping into the next level of training. And with that, I am sure that events like this are not only becoming part of that lifelong learning educational system in formal educational system, but of course, that people with kids and people with adults at their homes will fill that gap that they need to bridge with training and education in new ways that we were not imagining before.

Pilar Avila  15:19  

Amazing. So the growth trend, and the possibilities that technology and digital applications bring is not only about one sector of the economy or one function, it really goes across every function of business. But this topic of training and lifelong learning, has been absolutely transformed during the pandemic, thanks to the accessibility of technology. 

You might be interested: Innovative attitude: the 7 keys to becoming an innovative entrepreneur

Three key tech trends business owners and entrepreneurs should tap into

Pilar Avila 24:20

I want to hear a little bit more about how you know on the ground, you’re helping companies really coming to the digital age, and what are the trends, maybe certain applications beyond the workforce engagement that you might be observing that we need to be aware of and tapping? 

Rosario B. Casas  24:40  

Well, yes, sure. Thank you. When the pandemic started, and we started with my husband, seeing small businesses closing, we decided to create a program, a 10 weeks program for small business owners in order to help them acquire not only digital skills but also a digital mindset. And well Susana [Baumann] is one of our coaches, and we have 65 phenomenal mentors. But the idea is to create a community of Hispanic business owners both in the US and Latin America because also if small businesses are closing any of both geographies we are having huge issues….We need these businesses to keep thriving, growing. And of course, their leadership is growing in the new digital era. 

Where I see the three key [tech] trends: Ecommerce, for sure and E-services is a must. The second is, all the touchless economy, how we can grow the services and the systems without or avoiding the risk of touching and cleaning and acquiring or assuming all that cost that it implies. And Google has amazing tools for where technology companies can build things there. And the last thing that I think is Productivity and Personal Life, for sure, is a trend. We need business owners to learn how to be productive, how to use technology to make their life easier, how to automate processes, right. And basically, these three trends are where we are trying and helping business owners to acquire skills.

Through the 10-week incubator program, Brookly2Bogota, which is currently running in both New York and Colombia, business owners and entrepreneurs gain access to tools, mentors, networking, and training to accelerate the growth of their company in the new digital world post-COVID and carry out the digital transformation they require while acquiring knowledge and skills related to design thinking and agile methodologies.

The program is currently on its second cohort. For more information visit: brooklyn2bogota.mn.co/