Latina SmallBiz Expo Pitch Competition winners

Latina SmallBiz Expo Pitch Competition winners at Univision 41

The Latina SmallBiz Expo Pitch Competition winners visited Univision 41 studios to be interviewed by Katiria Soto, presenter of “Contigo en la Comunidad,” a weekly program that showcases the pulse of the Latino community in the Northeast.

Latina SmallBiz Expo Pitch Competition winners

At Univision 41 Contigo en la Comunidad (L to R) Katiria Soto, Susana G Baumann, Mary Dressendofer, Tania Molina

Susana G Baumann, Editor-in-Chief; Mary Dressendofer, founder and CEO, Princess Plie and Friends and first place winner in the competition; and Tania Molina, founder and CEO, Villakuyaya, were guests at the popular program that airs on Sundays at 7:30 am on Unimas.

“As a Latina entrepreneur for over 20 years, I have experienced most obstacles and barriers that small business owners face when they decide to run with their dreams. Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey, especially if you are a ‘solopreneur,'” Baumann said. “The goal of is to give Latina entrepreneurs the opportunity to tell their stories and gather in an event, the Latina SmallBiz Expo and Pitch Competition, which allows them to highlight their products, their services and their dreams. We also provide the chance for larger promotion and exposure while meeting important contacts that could help them grow their business and fulfill their dreams,” she added.

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Latina SmallBiz Expo Pitch Competition winners

Susana with finalists during the winners’ announcement

 Get up and dance to the sound of Princess Plié and Friends

Mary Dressendofer, Princess Plie and Friends, during her “pitch” to the Media Panel.

This year’s Pitch Competition participants found a unique spotlight to tell their stories. First place was awarded to Princess Plié and Friends while second place was a tie between Villakuyaya and Around the Way Girl Inc. These are their stories:

Mary Dressendofer came up with the idea of Princess Plié and Friends as a way to take every child into a magical world in which they create adventures, explore dance and have lots of fun.

“Princess Plié is a magical princess that comes to life out of her Music Box. Each storybook contains a music CD and can be used in classrooms throughout many dance studios as part of the curriculum or just as a special treat. Princess Plié also has her new friends FiFi and Freddy the hippity hopping frogs,” Mary explained.

Mary’s dream is to create an animation with Princess Plié and friends, where children can get up off the couch, learn a different genre of dance in each episode and start dancing. “This will also allow children that cannot afford dance lessons an opportunity to learn in the comfort of their own home,” Mary added. You can support Mary’s dream by visiting her website  Princess Plie and Friends. 

Emeralds from Ecuador to inspire friendships worldwide

Tania Molina, Villakuyaya, during her “pitch” to the Media Panel.

Tania Molina found Villakuyaya, inspired by lessons taught years back about cooking and spices from her grandmother, her parents’ love and support, and a healthy Zen approach to business –through the practice of yoga. Through Villakuyaya, Tania creates her organic dark chocolate bars with a lot of love and awareness.  She chooses the finest “Arriba Nacional” cocoa beans, working with cocoa farmers from the Esmeralda’s region in the northern pacific coast, who practice sustainable agriculture with Organic and Fair Trade Certifications.

“The fundamental idea of Villakuyaya is to share with customers and friends a sensory experience that begins with the fruity flavors and floral aromas of our cocoa bean; a simple single chocolate bar can inspire friendships worldwide,” Tania explained. You can find her products at Villakuyaya.

Empower your community by claiming your Latina identity

Latina SmallBiz Expo Pitch Competition winners

Soley Berrios, ATW Girl Inc Board Member, during her “pitch” to the Media Panel.

In a second place tie, Soley Berrios, represented “Around the Way Girl, Inc.” a grassroots nonprofit organization that provides intentionally designed education-based programs for young women in underprivileged and marginalized communities. The founder and CEO, Maya Carr, claims her Black and Puerto Rican heritage as a way to empower women of color in a positive and powerful light.

“I had a desire to educate myself on true Puerto Rican history, the African Diaspora, and local level politics. I knew, at that moment that women from underserved communities, “the ghetto,” “the projects” were truly intelligent, kind, empowered women. Once I had that understanding, I made it my duty to empower young women with tools for personal and professional success because greatness belonged to us. I began my community service projects in the Spring of 2011, and ATWG, Inc. was birthed in 2013,” Maya asserted. You can support their mission at ATWGirl, Inc.

You can be among the next Latina SmallBiz Expo Pitch Competition winners!

Do you have a small business? Do you have a story to tell and dreams to achieve? Then you can be the next r! participant at the Latina SmallBiz Expo and Pitch Competition. Contact to promote your business and your story, and connect with real opportunities for success.

A version of this article will be published in the January/February edition of Abasto Magazine.