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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. 

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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/ 

How this Latina owned makeup brand is inspiring self-confidence and empowerment

Melissa Polanco is the co-founder of Ella’s Eve Cosmetics —a Latina owned makeup brand that promotes confidence and celebrates inner beauty. Co-founded with her sister, Lissa, the two are working to build a community centered around self-confidence, authenticity, and empowerment.

Ella’s Eve Cosmetics Co-founder, Melissa Polanco (Photo courtesy Melissa Polanco)

Representing Latinas in the makeup industry

Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Melissa and Lissa, moved to the U.S. to pursue their college education. Neither had plans on launching a beauty brand, with Melissa’s background being in higher education and Lissa’s in event planning. However, both found a love for makeup that grew from a hobby to a passion and would eventually become their brand, Ella’s Eve.

It was two years ago that the sisters got to talking about starting their own makeup brand and becoming entrepreneurs. Neither one had any formal background in cosmetology, but over the years they had found a love for makeup while watching YouTube tutorials and following their favorite influencers on social media.

“We have passion for it, so we learned by researching shades, products, manufacturers, etc,” says Melissa.

While doing their research they noticed that there were not that many Latina owned makeup brands.This further motivated them to pursue their dreams and make their brand successful.

“We wanted to join the world of entrepreneurship and show women like us that you can do it too as long as you put in the work and have the passion for it,” says Melissa.

In 2018, the sister-duo finally launched Ella’s Eve, offering 5 shades of liquid lipstick. Later they would expand their collection to add a variety of products including lip lacquers and an eye shadow palette.

Ella’s Eve Cosmetics “Velvet Posh Liquid Lips” (Photo courtesy Melissa Polanco)

Being Real

As a Latina owned makeup brand, Melissa and Lissa wanted to make sure they were authentically representing their brand and their roots. From the start they knew that self-confidence and authenticity would be at the heart of their branding. We see too much with makeup that it is considered “fake” or inauthentic. Many see makeup as a mask, but Melissa and Lissa wanted to redefine people’s relationship to makeup. Their mission was to create a brand that would provide quality, cruelty-free products with honesty and help people highlight their natural beauty and boost their confidence.

Confidence comes from being real, the makeup only enhances the beauty that was already there. This authenticity can be seen in every aspect of Ella’s Eve Cosmetics. It’s in their founders, in their products, and in their branding.

Sister-duo, Lissa and Melissa, Co-founders of Ella’s Eve Cosmetics showing off their liquid lipsticks (Photo courtesy Melissa Polanco)

“Because we are a small business, we have very limited resources. We literally wear many hats while operating Ella’s Eve,” says Melissa. “We are the marketers, the faces of the brand, the customer service, the photographer, etc.”

This can be overwhelming at times, but Melissa loves that she gets to be so involved in every aspect of the brand. This gives them the ability to reach their customers on another level. By being so involved, they are easily approachable.

“One of our main focuses is to be reachable and relatable in a way where our customers feel free to reach out to us and feel like they are reaching out to a friend,” she says. “It can be just reaching out to ask a question about our products or even sending us a DM to share the love for our brand or products. We are building a community around love and acceptance and I believe our customers see that.”

In one of their recent promotion videos, their authentic selves shined through unexpectedly, and it was a success among their followers.

What was supposed to be a serious “ad” turned carefree and fun. The “this is me” outtakes that Melissa filmed of her sister wearing one of their lip shades ended up being what they posted to their social media.

A new addition to Ella’s Eve, the “Make It Your Eve” eyeshadow Palette (Photo courtesy Melissa Polanco)

“Our followers loved it and even commented how real and refreshing it looked because it was different. That is what we want,” says Melissa. “We want to promote the real us, which reflects our brand and remind everyone that what is important is to be you and love who you are.”

Inspiring confidence in your dreams

Loving who you are is the first step to taking over the world and achieving your dreams. Melissa and Lissa want to not only inspire people to feel confident in their appearances but also in achieving their dreams.

When they began Ella’s Eve Cosmetics, they were inspired by the lack of Latina owned makeup brands in the industry. They wanted to make a change and show others that they too can achieve their goals.

“We now get approached by fellow Latina women who share their support and how proud they are that two Latina sisters are going for their goals. They love how relatable we are and this is one of the things that I love the most because it makes me feel proud that I am representing us in this industry,” says Melissa.

That representation matters. It shows Latinas all over the country that they too can make their dreams come true. It gives them confidence.

You might be interested: Success for 21st Century women entrepreneurs

“Never put yourself down,” Melissa says to other minority women looking to start their own business. “Put yourself out there and go for it. There might be instances where some doors are shut or things don’t go as planned, but always look forward and never give up.”

Just be authentic. Love yourself and be proud of who you are, inside and out. With confidence, anything is possible.

2019 Pitch Competition winner at the Latina SmallBiz Expo takes $2000 Cash

The 2019 Pitch Competition winner is Mariangelic Martinez, founder and owner of Martinez Martial Arts and Family Fitness Center. Located in Bloomfield NJ, the center primarily serves as a martial arts school offering classes to families and people of all ages, though it also provides a variety of other programs such as summer camps, day camps, and fitness programs for adults.

2019 Pitch Competition

(L to R) Joseph Camberato, National Business Capital & Services, Mariangelic Martinez, Winner 2019 Pitch Competition; Susana G Baumann, Latinas in Business Inc.

“Our 2019 Pitch Competition focus was on three Tracks: Wellness, Lifestyle and Technology. From the original list of 18 registered participants, 12 were selected but only 9 showed up to participate,” said Susana G Baumann, President and CEO, Latinas in Business Inc. “Participants were mainly Wellness and Lifestyle businesses with only one Well-Tech participant. That shows us that there is still a lot of work to do to attract Latinas into Technology and encourage them to participate in our Pitch Competition,” Baumann added.

The 2019 Pitch Competition winner has a passion born out of necessity

As the owner and founder of a martial arts studio, it is no surprise that Marieangelic loves karate, in fact it has been a life-long passion, starting at the age of three.

Born and raised in Newark, NJ, to Puerto Rican parents, Marieangelic’s journey into the world of martial arts began with a diagnosis: epilepsy. Her pediatrician suggested she be put in a sport. Unfortunately, there were not many options at the time for young girls. Searching for something, her mother looked to karate, where Marieangelic’s brother was already enrolled in a martial arts program. After speaking to the instructor, who would go on to become a great mentor to Marieangelic, she soon was enrolled in classes.

From then on karate became her life. She joined competitions, competing locally, regionally, and internationally earning nicknames such as “la salsera” and “yakuza.”

Read more about Mariangelic Martinez here: Martial Arts Sensen Marieangelic Martinez defeats industry stigma and work-life balance

 

About the 2019 Pitch Competition participants

In second and third places were finalists Tenille Ortiz, founder and owner, The Cupcake Carriage and Brenda Green, founder and owner, Fit4aBetterMe.

Three finalists at the 2019 Pitch Competition in Jersey City (L to R) Joseph Camberato, Mariangelic Martinez, Susana G Baumann, Tenille Ortiz and Brenda Green.

Tenille Ortiz is the owner and designer at The Ellinnet Cake Collection. “I just launched a new service called The Cupcake Carriage, which is a mobile bakery designed for cupcake decorating birthday parties, corporate events and much more. The business launched in June and since then we have taken off. We are currently designing cakes for many celebrities and The Cupcake Carriage has been scheduled every weekend since our launch date in June,” Tenille explained.

Brenda Green, owner and founder of a Fit4aBetterMe, LLC is the creator of Virtually Better Fitness. “We help women who understand the impact of exercising on their overall health, but struggle to find the time, need motivational support or are frustrated with programs that only yield short term results,” Brenda explained.

Virtually Better Fitness is a  live-streaming fitness class that provides instruction from a certified trainer through a strength-based workout from the comfort and convenience of your home. The virtual group sessions leverage video and audio technology to create a community environment that builds confidence and extends motivation. Classes are three times a week for 30 mins, with no commute, minimal equipment, and access to nutritional coaching.

“We believe this is the formula that will support continued growth in your fitness and health for the rest of your life!” Brenda shared during the Pitch Competition.

Other participants to the Pitch were Maria Santiago-Valentin, Calm & Mindful LLC; Lisa Arias, Body Vanity; Laura Diaz Alberto, La-Di by Laura Diaz Alberto; Judy Justin, Judy Justin Photography, Stephanie Flor, Around the World Beauty, and Dailisha Rodriguez, Hey There Beautiful!

The 2019 Pitch Competition Prize Package and Jurors

This year, the $12,000 Package Prize included $2000 in Cash, sponsored by National Business Capital & Services (National), and a $10,000 package in business services that included:

1st Place:

  • An opportunity to participate in the Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative (EPI) Training Program, Rutgers School of Business –Newark (Value $6000) – Qualifications apply for the EPI program (Scholarship for Registration $500)
  • Complimentary 1-on-1 business coaching session with National’s President & Co-Founder, Joseph Camberato
  • Complimentary cost savings audit on business services by National’s team of business growth advisors
  • 30 days of complimentary credit consulting and credit building
  • Promotional video, full feature article, social media campaign and professional photos with LatinasinBusiness.us
  • A free ticket (Value of $139) to attend the Red Shoe Movement Signature event on November12, 2019 at MetLife (New York)

2nd and 3rd Places: 

  • Promotional video, full feature article, social media campaign and professional photos with LatinasinBusiness.us
  • A free ticket (Value of $139) to attend the Red Shoe Movement Signature event on November 12, 2019 at MetLife (New York)

Package for all finalists of Pitch Competition

  • Promotional video, full feature article, social media campaign and professional photos with LatinasinBusiness.us
2019 Pitch Competition

Jurors (L to R) Manny Fernandez, Fatima Pearn, Joseph Camberato, Any Oliva and Jasmine Cordero-West.

Jasmine Cordero-West, M.H.R.M, Associate Director at Rutgers Entrepreneurship, Rutgers Business School Newark & New Brunswick, and one of the Judges of the 2019 Pitch Competition said, “I enjoyed the pitch competition. There was a good group of finalists and I decided to give the $550 scholarship for participation in the Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative (EPI) program to all 3 winners. I think they could benefit from our program.”

Other judges to the competition were Angel Investor and Crowdfunding Manager Manny Fernandez; Joseph Camberato, CEO National Business Capital & Services; Fatima Pearn, VP Business Development Officer at Valley Bank; and Any Oliva, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Negocios Hispanos USA.

“I invite our community to continue to support these Latinas in business that year after year come back because they see the value of our mission,” Baumann said. “Every year, we see more solid and focused Latina entrepreneurs taking advantage of this opportunity to promote their products and services. We wanted to thank our sponsors, supporters and the fantastic media and sponsors Jurors who judged the competition,” said Baumann concluded.

latinas in business

Latinas in Business receives NJ and NY decision-makers at the 2019 EEL in Jersey City

Latinas in Business, an organization that was born only 4 years ago, is launching its second annual event, the 2019 Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch.