Gabby Rivera got her love for writing from her mother, a New York City kindergarten teacher who made sure her daughter was reading and writing at a young age.
“My mom’s always been an avid reader, so reading was the thing we were allowed to do all the time, and I’ve just been writing ever since,” Rivera told NBC Out.
Rivera doesn’t just write — she breaks barriers. Earlier this year, she brought the world Marvel’s first comic series centered around a lesbian Latina superhero.
Marvel tapped Rivera to write a new comic series for America Chavez, a character first introduced to the Marvel universe back in 2011. Having long been a fan of strong, female superheroes like Storm and Rogue of the X-Men franchise, Rivera was excited to take on the challenge of expanding on America’s story.
America has a difficult past to contend with, including be exiled from her homeland, but Rivera said it was important for her that the character’s narrative still be fun and exciting.
“It’s important to talk about the intersecting identities and her being queer and Latina … but so much of content around people of color is centered in oppression or political conversations,” Rivera said, adding that America’s story will be one where the reader can escape to a new world full of love, adventure and butt-kicking.
America Chavez isn’t the only queer Latina protagonist Rivera has shared with readers. Last year, Rivera debuted her novel, “Juliet Takes a Breath,” which centers on a queer, Puerto Rican, young writer from the Bronx. Rivera described Juliet as “someone who is thick-bodied, a little nerdy and pretty queer and still totally confident.”
Rivera hopes “young brown girls can see themselves” in Juliet at a time when inspirational characters of color are few and far between. “I want the book to provide not just a mirror, but open windows where the possibilities are endless,” she added.
Continue onto NBC News to read more about Rivera and her work in the LGBT community.
It may come as a surprise that radio personality Geena the Latina — formally Geena Aguilar — never pictured herself on the air. If it wasn’t for a morning show audition 15 years ago that brought her to the city she considered a second home, San Diego might have missed out on one of the market’s more popular radio hosts.
While her path began as an intern at a Los Angeles radio station in college, she was working as a sales associate for a television station after college, when her two brothers were shot and killed within five months of each other.
“After that, I stopped working altogether for a year because I was so depressed. My old boss from the radio station called me after that year and told me to come back to the station. He said I could work as little or as much as I wanted. He just wanted to get me out of the house,” she says. “I am forever thankful to him for that.”
Aguilar threw herself into her work, befriending colleagues, working late hours and pitching in to help out and learn any aspect of the job that needed an extra pair of hands. Although she was initially resistant to the spotlight that came with the job, it’s helped her realize that her voice matters, and she’s used it to help others.
One of those ways is through her Girls Empowerment Conference with the Positive Movement Foundation. The foundation is a San Diego nonprofit that works with schools and other organizations to provide educational tools, empowerment events, and other resources to vulnerable children. They’re hosting their “Cocktails for a Cause” fundraiser 6 to 10 p.m. today at 1899 McKee St., San Diego. The Girls Empowerment Conference is one of the beneficiaries of the event.
Aguilar is an on-air personality at Channel 933, co-host of “The Geena the Latina and Frankie V Morning Show,” and lives in the East Village section of downtown San Diego. She took some time to talk about her radio career, the Girls Empowerment Conference, and finding her voice.
Q: Most of us who listen to the radio know you as Geena the Latina on Channel 93.3. What led you to choose a career in radio?
A: When I started out as an intern at 102.7 KIIS FM in Los Angeles during college, I was eventually hired in the promotions department, and continued working there throughout college. I never wanted to be on the air; I worked there because it was fun and all of my friends worked there. I always wanted to work in the entertainment industry, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I thought of myself as more of a behind-the-scenes person.
[After the deaths of her brothers] I started working at the radio station again and completely threw myself into everything I could do there, probably just to keep myself busy. I’d stay at the station all day long, talking to people, helping whoever needed help, or sitting in on show meetings. I became the street reporter for the station and worked red carpet events, which eventually led to morning shows asking me to audition. I didn’t want to audition because I still didn’t think that being on the air could be a career, but one of those auditions was for a morning show in San Diego and I just loved San Diego. I grew up visiting the city, all of my friends had attended college here, and I’d already felt like San Diego was a second home. I got the job 15 years ago and I’ve been here ever since!
After being on Channel 933 for a year, I wanted to quit because I couldn’t handle all of the negative comments, messages, and emails. I hated the spotlight (and still don’t love it), but one morning, I shared the story about what happened to my brothers, and the response was overwhelmingly supportive. People were saying how much my story touched them, helped them, or how they related to me because of it. I finally realized that maybe I was supposed to be on the radio. If people listened to me when I had something serious to say, then I could put up with all of that other stuff. I realized that it was important to have a voice about things that mattered, and there was no bigger platform than on one of the biggest radio stations in San Diego, talking to a million people a week.
Q: Can you tell us about how you came to be known on air as “Geena the Latina,” and what it means to you to represent this part of your identity and culture?
A: When I first started, they were trying to think of a catchy name for me. At the time, there weren’t many Latinos on the radio, if any. They wanted a name that captured who I was, but also communicated that I was Latin. One day, one of the on-air DJs started calling me “Geena the Latina” and it stuck. I like the name, I think it defines who I am, and I am good with that. I am American first, of Latin descent, and my family is Mexican, but I was raised here in the U.S. We speak both English and Spanish, we grew up eating Mexican food and going to low-rider car shows, and my Spanish could be a lot better, but that’s also a product of us growing up with everything American. We grew up heavily immersed in the Mexican American culture, but also grew up very American. We’re an interesting mix of Latino that I feel represents a lot of people who were raised the same way, here in the U.S. We are proud of our Latin/Mexican roots and heritage, but are also proud to be American. I’m part of a generation that grew up with both cultures that shaped us to become who we are, and I’m proud of that.
What I love about downtown San Diego …
I love that it’s right in the middle of downtown San Diego and Little Italy. It’s a five-minute ride either way. Depending on what I feel like doing, everything is pretty accessible. I also love that I’m so close to North Park, as I frequent that neighborhood almost daily. I love having visitors and them being able to be so close to so much to do! Downtown, the harbor, Little Italy, Barrio Logan—I’m close to everything.
Q: Tell us about your Girls Empowerment Conference.
A: I’d been a keynote speaker at conferences for girls at both Mount Miguel High School and at the University of San Diego. After speaking at both conferences, I thought about combining them in order to maximize resources and to provide a massive conference for teen girls from all over San Diego. I spoke to the organizers of both conferences, and we started our Girls Empowerment Conference in 2017. The girls are provided with food throughout the day, along with empowering activities, speakers, performances, and interactive workshops.
During the smaller breakout sessions with a moderator, girls are able to comfortably talk about the issues affecting their lives, like body image, confidence, or life at home. Empowerment groups from different high schools perform spoken word and put together empowering videos that are played during the day. The girls from these high school empowerment groups are highly involved with everything from the topics of the conference to the themes, speakers, and more. We really try to hear them out and listen to what they say they want and need, as we plan the conference. It’s a fully interactive, immersive day, specifically geared to teen girls from ninth through 12th grades, and the costs of admission and transportation are covered at no cost to the girls.
Q: Why was this conference something you wanted to create?
A: We wanted to provide resources and outlets for teen girls who probably wouldn’t be able to have access to them otherwise. We wanted to uplift girls and give them examples of what they can become if they work hard and stay motivated. We wanted to provide a safe place for them to learn, grow, and have fun, and we ultimately wanted to inspire these girls to be the best that they can be. We wanted to allow them to see examples of others who were in their position once, and to see how far those women have come.
Q: What does the idea of “empowerment” mean to you, personally?
A: Empowerment is a state of being. It’s a state of feeling completely comfortable with who you are and what you believe in; of feeling confident that you can do whatever it is you want to do; of being confident in who you are and what you bring to the table; of knowing that your contribution to this world is important; and it’s a state of knowing that anything is achievable when you put your mind to it and dedicate yourself to making it happen. Empowerment gives you the feeling that nothing is unattainable.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: Don’t take things personally. So many times, we won’t pursue our goals or dreams because someone told us we couldn’t, or because we got turned down or rejected. I think never taking things personally — whether it be a rejection or something said about us — allows us to not be hindered by things we can’t control. All you can do is be you, be a good person, work hard, and everything will happen as it’s supposed to happen.
Click here to read the full article on the San Diego Tribune.
I’ve always enjoyed working with content creators. At 31, I’ve helped launch creator programs at some of the biggest tech companies, including Instagram and Pinterest.
But it was frustrating to see the pay inequality that content creators constantly faced. So earlier this year, I decided to quit my $150,000-per-year job at TikTok to start a “Glassdoor-like” app called Clara for Creators.
Since launching, it has helped more than 7,000 influencers and content creators share and compare pay rates and review their experiences working with brands.
The pay gap in influencer marketing
Nowadays, there are very few barriers to becoming a content creator. With the popularity of TikTok, for example, you don’t need to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in equipment; anyone can try to build an audience and monetize their platform with videos they shoot on a smartphone.
As a result, more and more creators have entered the business. The problem? They have little knowledge about how much money they could — or should — be making.
Content creator deals are tricky. How much you’re paid depends on the type of content you’re offering a brand and on what platform — an Instagram post versus a YouTube video, for example. Other factors include the size of your following, engagement metrics and success rates with previous partnerships.
To make matters even more complicated, brands often ask an influencer for their rate instead of offering everyone a base pay with room to negotiate.
Many creators end up selling themselves short, especially women and people of color. I once saw a man get paid 10 times what a woman creator was paid for the same campaign — just because he asked for more. I’ve also seen Latinx creators with triple the following of white creators be paid half as much.
How I started my mission-based business
I knew a major problem that creators faced was that they couldn’t Google how much money they could charge for marketing a product or service on their platform. That lightbulb moment — and how much I cared about the creators I worked with — inspired me to build Clara.
I wanted creators to be able to share reviews of brands they had worked with, along with how much they were paid for different types of content based on their number of followers.
In March 2021, I sent a bunch of cold messages to potential investors on LinkedIn. In July, after weeks of non-stop outreach that turned into more than 10 pitch meetings, I received a small investment from an individual investor. I used that money to contract a team of developers, who I worked alongside to build and test the app.
Clara finally launched for iOS in January this year. Within a month, without spending any money on advertisements, more than 7,000 creators signed up to share their rates on Clara, including top TikTok creators like Devon Rodriguez and Nancy Bullard, who each have 24.4 million and 2.9 million social media followers, respectively.
On January 14, I quit my job at TikTok as a creator program manager to work on Clara full-time. While I am taking a massive pay cut by leaving my 9-to-5, I’m living off money I make as a content creator and my savings.
Right now, I’m focused on raising capital to grow the platform. I’m also spreading the word about equal pay and how important resources like Clara are. l post career advice and other resources on my TikTok account, where I currently have 348,000 followers.
Get paid fairly: Know your rights and do your research
There are many things you can do to work towards greater pay equity for yourself and others in your industry.
When discussing pay with your coworkers, it’s important to know your rights. Some corporations may try to scare you from it by saying that salary talk is against company policy. But under the National Labor Relations Act, many employees have the right to talk about their wages with their coworkers.
I’ve had six full-time jobs, and fear used to keep me from talking about money. But the first time I openly discussed my salary with a colleague, I found out I was being underpaid. I then used that knowledge to look for new roles where I’d be paid more fairly.
These conversations don’t have to be awkward, especially if you’ve established a safe and comfortable relationship. Rather than flat-out asking “How much are you making?,” approach the discussion in a “let’s help each other” way. You might be surprised by the number of people who are willing to talk about it.
Keep in mind that while you have the right to communicate about your wages, your employer may have lawful policies against using their equipment — like work laptops — to have the discussion. Protect yourself by understanding your company’s policy before sending a rallying Slack message.
And always do your research before accepting a contract. Sites like Glassdoor, Levels and Clara offer this data for free.
You can also search sites like TikTok and YouTube to get deep insights about pay. There are many creators who, like me, are open about what they’ve been paid at previous companies — down to stock offerings and sign-on bonuses, and who share information about company cultures overall.
I also created a spreadsheet for people to share their titles and salaries alongside important demographic information I’ve seen left out on other databases, like gender, age and diverse identity fields. So far, it has over 62,000 entries.
“I think what is important to me is never giving up,” the 90-year-old Puerto Rican actress, dancer, singer and activist said in a recent phone interview, “Things do change and times do change, and the people who weren’t listening to me and what I stand for let’s say, 20 years ago, are listening more.”
Moreno’s determination plays a large role in her successful and expansive career. During Hispanic Network Magazine’s 30 years, Moreno has graced our cover more than once. She is a legend, with accolades that include EGOT status, with Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards to her name.
While she is proud of her recognition, she stills sees room for improvement in terms of substantial Latinx representation within the entertainment industry. It is a challenge that has been present throughout her entire career.
“I see strides, and I don’t see enough,” Moreno said. “I think we are definitely underrepresented.”
As a young actress at MGM Studios in the 1950s, she was stuck playing ethnically ambiguous female roles she refers to as “dusky maidens.”
West Side Story in 1961 was a turning point for Moreno, who became the first Latina to win an Academy Award for acting for her role as Anita.
Moreno has been vocal through the years of how badly she wanted the role and the chance to play a Hispanic character with substance. She has also spoken candidly about the little difference the Oscar made in the roles she was offered after the win.
“It’s like, ‘How does it feel to have all those awards that no other Latino has?’” Moreno said, “Well, it feels wonderful, but it doesn’t get me the work. It has never gotten me the work.”
After her Oscar win, Moreno did Broadway and television but didn’t make another motion picture for seven years.
For most of the 1970s, Moreno was a main cast member on the PBS educational children’s program, The Electric Company, and won a Grammy for the show’s children’s album.
She won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for The Ritz in 1975. Moreno won her first Emmy Award in 1977 for her appearance on The Muppet Show, and received a second Emmy the following year for The Rockford Files.
In her 2021 documentary, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It, Moreno shares that as a young actress starting out, she looked up to Elizabeth Taylor simply because there were no role models for a young Puerto Rican girl. There was no one on screen who looked like her.
Ironically, Moreno’s time on the stage and screens both big and small, mean many of today’s Latinx stars grew up looking up to her.
In Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It, Eva Longoria reflects on watching Moreno in The Electric Company and recognizing her as someone that looked like her. In Jennifer Lopez’s own documentary, Half-Time, she specifically names Moreno as her inspiration for aspiring to dance, act and sing.
Another Latinx entertainer who grew up watching Moreno is Ariana DeBose.
DeBose took on Moreno’s most famous role in Steven Spielberg’s 2021 adaptation of West Side Story, which Moreno also starred in and served as an executive producer for. In 2022, DeBose received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing Anita. She is the first Afro-Latina, the first openly queer actor of color and the first openly queer woman to win the award. It’s a recognition that may not have been possible without Moreno’s own groundbreaking win.
“First of all, I am so happy for her, and I am happy for the Hispanic community,” Moreno said of DeBose, “She is Afro-Latina and that opens another door, which is fantastic. She is obviously very aware of the exclusion that we suffer from.”
Moreno places a lot of hope on the younger generation to lend their voice to changing things for the Latinx community.
“I am very hopeful that she will bring the attention of the younger people whose ear and interest we definitely don’t have,” said Moreno.
Moreno knows how to speak up too.
She has talked openly about her experiences with sexual assault, abortion and suicide and has long been an advocated for women’s rights. Her early social activism began at the March on Washington, where she was present during Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famous “I Have a Dream” speech and stretches today, when she again recounted her own abortion story in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. In 2004, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 2009, President Barack Obama awarded her the National Medal of Arts.
“It is a question of never, ever giving up on what you have to say that is important to helping our community,” said Moreno.
Speaking up takes courage, but Moreno admits she has never had trouble being loud.
“I am a raucous person, and that is the Latina part of me. I am noisy, I laugh too loud,” Moreno said, “But that is who I am. I love that part of me.”
From 2017 to 2020, Moreno took on the role of Lydia, in One Day at a Time, the sitcom inspired by Norman Lear’s 1975 series of the same name. The reboot focused on Penelope, a newly single Army veteran, and her Cuban-American family. As Lydia, Moreno embraced the best parts of Latin culture, without slipping into stereotypes, and demonstrated what is possible when we are able to lovingly tell our own stories.
“I have a deep love for my people,” Moreno said, “I love who we are, and I love what we represent, because we represent deep values. I love our food; I love our music; I am never unaware of the Latin-ness of all of that.”
There is plenty of new Moreno content coming out later this year too.
This summer she will be filming a Christmas movie for Lifetime in Nashville, and she is also joining Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Tom Brady for football-themed road-trip movie, 80 for Brady.
Moreno also has a role in Vin Diesel’s upcoming Fast and Furious movie, Fast X, as Grandma Toretto, Dom Toretto’s abuela.
“I had an absolutely fabulous time,” Moreno said of the filming, which took place in London. “We were freezing; we’re talking 50 degrees. But I loved it, I had a great time.”
Moreno said she had such a good time she might even make an appearance in the next film.
“I may do one more, so that would be insane,” Moreno said, “I mean, I am 90 years old and look at me!”
Former WNBA player Niesha Butler has opened the first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp, S.T.E.A.M. Champs, in New York City to reduce accessibility barriers to tech educational resources for Brooklyn youth.
“If a kid could actually say that they can be LeBron James, and roll it off their tongue as easy as that, then they can literally say ‘yeah, I can also put a man on the moon,’ or ‘I can also create the next app,'” Butler told ABC News.
Butler, a New York City native, says “there’s talent in Brooklyn.” She established S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Champs in the middle of Brooklyn to encourage inner-city youth to channel their ambition into educational opportunities. Butler also hires interns, may of whom have tried coding for the first time with the program, she says.
“People sell basketball dreams every other second in our community. I thought it was really important to, let’s sell these tech dreams,” Butler said.
Prior to opening her doors in Brooklyn, Butler partnered with organizations like Girl Scouts, BronxWorks and a local AAU basketball team to host STEM-focused workshops reaching over 300 New York City students. Monday was the first day of camp in the newly opened facility.
“There’s not a lot of people of color in tech,” Butler said. “These jobs are open for everybody and they’re empty…so obviously we need to do a better job at educating our kids and in recruiting them.”
Other tech education camps and workshops across the nation have worked to close the gap and make tech careers interesting and accessible to students of underserved communities.
Black Girls CODE is one of those resources providing workshops and public speaking opportunities for Black girls. Program alumni Kimora Oliver and Azure Butler say that the program’s first chapter in California’s Bay Area created an environment that allowed local Black female students to envision themselves in the tech industry.
“Unfortunately, STEM is a white and male dominated field,” Oliver told ABC News. “I feel like [Black Girls CODE] is giving a diverse group of Black girls the exposure that they need to decide for themselves whether they want to continue with STEM in the future.”
For almost 40 years, another program called Academically Interest Minds (AIM) at Kettering University has tailored its pre-college curriculum to expose youth of color to STEM coursework and campus life.
“49% of African American students who attend Kettering University now, are AIM graduates,” Ricky D. Brown, the university’s director of multicultural student initiatives and the AIM program, told ABC News.
For many, STEM educational resources introduce an element of choice in considering STEM and exploring pathways of academic interests.
A study released in July by the National Bureau of Economic Research says that early intervention programs like S.T.E.A.M Champs, AIM and Black Girls CODE are effective in helping students achieve academic success in higher education and STEM majors.
“Some of these kids don’t have a computer at home to study,” Butler said. “When I go to some of these centers, they don’t have good Wi-Fi…they have outdated computers.”
According to the study, underrepresentation in STEM is due to a lack of preparation and access to educational resources.
“Given that STEM preparation and college access are shaped prior to college entrance, STEM focused enrichment programs for high school students are promising vehicles to reduce disparities in STEM degree attainment,” the study’s authors wrote.
Click here to read the full article on ABC News Radio.
SIA Scotch Whisky, an award-winning spirits brand founded by first-generation Hispanic entrepreneur Carin Luna-Ostaseski, is bringing back The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch for the second consecutive year. The groundbreaking initiative provides entrepreneurs of color with access to the capital and mentorship that will help them take action, build stronger companies and have a positive impact on their communities.
This year, the grant program will focus on growing businesses specifically within the brand’s own world – the food, beverage, and hospitality sector . This space has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and its small business owners continue to face massive barriers, such as adapting to consumers’ ever-evolving preferences and spending behaviors, adjusting to increased at-home demand, and facing supply chain disruptions. As a brand built from the ground up, SIA Scotch Whisky truly understands the importance of supporting these often-overlooked small business owners along their entrepreneurial journeys.
“As an entrepreneur from a historically underrepresented and underserved community, gaining access to funding and mentorship during my startup journey was always an uphill battle,” said founder Luna-Ostaseski. “The food, beverage and hospitality space is very competitive, and I know from firsthand experience how game-changing support can be. SIA Scotch Whisky was born out of my perseverance and passion, and to this day our purpose is to inspire other entrepreneurs of color to achieve the unexpected – just like I did. I am so proud of The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund and its continued commitment to paying it forward.”
However, success is not easy to come by. Entrepreneurs of color tend to face more obstacles when it comes to raising capital and are far more likely to get shut out of financing completely. Despite approximately 18.7% of all U.S. businesses being minority-owned , representing over 50% of new businesses started and creating 4.7 million new jobs, this group is still largely excluded in funding – receiving only a 2% share of venture capital annually over the last decade .
The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch is inspired by Carin Luna-Ostaseski’s entrepreneurial journey and launches in partnership with Hello Alice, a free online platform that connects its community of nearly one million small business owners with the capital, tools and education they need to grow their businesses.
“Entrepreneurs of color are an economic force in the U.S and recognizing their impact in our communities is of great importance,” said Elizabeth Gore, co-founder and President, Hello Alice. “In our most recent survey, 89% of small business owners claim access to capital is limiting their business growth potential. Along with our partner SIA Scotch Whisky, we are excited to continue this groundbreaking grant program to help support this underserved community and provide the resources, tools and additional exposure that these businesses need to succeed.”
The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch will award $10,000 grants to 11 qualifying entrepreneurs who self-identify as people of color, for a total of $110,000. To apply, visit https://hialice.co/siascotchfund now through Sept. 26, 2022. To be eligible, business owners must be 25 years of age or older (as of November 1, 2022) and a legal U.S. resident. Businesses must be owned 51%+ by person(s) of color, a for-profit business producing less than $5M in annual gross revenue, not be an alcohol beverage wholesale or retail license holder or a business which makes/distributes/imports alcohol, and must operate and/or conduct business in at least one of the following states: CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, MA, MN, NJ, NV, NY, RI and/or TX. For complete eligibility criteria and important restrictions, visit the application site and terms & conditions. The final grant recipients will be announced on Nov. 1, 2022, kicking off National Entrepreneur Month.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund is a continuation of SIA Scotch Whisky’s nearly decade-long commitment to donating a portion of sales to organizations that help support underrepresented entrepreneurs – the dreamers, movers and shakers who are shaping the future. When getting into the entrepreneurial spirit or when sipping on actual spirits, SIA encourages consumers of legal drinking age to drink responsibly.
Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Finance.
For all of us coffee drinkers, we’re used to getting up in the morning, reaching for our favorite mug, and pouring ourselves a cup of joe without giving a second thought to where our grinds originated from. We need the caffeine to kickstart our day, and then we’re on our way!
But what if we told you there was a brand of coffee that takes great care to share with its customers where the coffee is sourced from and how it is made, making it part of their brand identity? That brand is Casa Dos Chicas Café, founded by accountants and mothers Ana Ocansey-Jimenez and Oneida Franco.
These two finance experts turned coffee connoisseurs have added “Entrepreneur” to their list of powerful titles as the founders of Casa Dos Chicas Café, a brand of The Whole Kitchen, which was also founded by the Latina duo.
Casa Dos Chicas Café offers organic, single-origin, specialty coffees sourced mainly from small, family-owned farms or multi-family cooperatives across Latin America and the Caribbean including the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Colombia, and Peru. Through Casa Dos Chicas Café, they are dedicated to celebrating Latin American heritage while promoting equitable, sustainable practices along the entire coffee supply chain.
We loved the sound of this company (and it made us immediately want to drink a good cup of coffee!) so we had the chance to speak with both Oneida and Ana about the origins of the business, how they are working to lift other Latinas in the business world, and why representation is important to them.
How did you two first meet and decide to go on this entrepreneurship journey together?
We met in New York City while working together in corporate accounting. We hit it off and quickly became friends! Soon enough we began a tradition of drinking Cuban cafecito in the breakroom during the afternoons which continued for the next 4.5 years.
We decided to embark on this entrepreneurship journey when we saw how we could impact people’s lives while fulfilling our own. Ana put our first financial model together and we said “Let’s do this!”
Can you tell us where the idea for Casa Dos Chicas Café came from, and where your love of coffee originated?
The idea of Casa Dos Chicas Café was nurtured through the building of our friendship, sharing our cultures through foods, and drinking cafecito during our time at work. We even purchased an electric greca/moka pot to make the afternoon brews, which we still have and will soon be framed.
We went our separate ways as we continued to develop our careers but stayed in touch. We would continue to see each other often for lunch and would of course enjoy our coffee and dream of the future. The love of coffee came from our families tradition, we have countless stories that our Dominican and Mexican parents shared with us and we now share with each other.
Ana had been taking different coffee courses and learning as much about specialty coffee as possible. Through that we made great connections with people throughout the supply chain. We saw the inequalities throughout it and decided we wanted to influence and do our part. This along with showing people how the third wave of coffee is changing the coffee scene, we saw a gap where we could educate on what specialty coffee is, why it is special, and how they too can have it and enjoy it.
This new venture is part of The Whole Kitchen brand. Why is expansion important to your business, and why should all entrepreneurs keep expansion in mind as they climb the ladder of success?
The Whole Kitchen is the mother company and it was a concept that Oneida had been developing since her daughter was 2. We loved it!
Change is good and growth is natural. It is not easy, but it is important to always strive to grow and expand because if not the business will begin to fizzle and can die. Growth does not necessarily mean just the revenue line, it comes in various places, from impact, knowledge, the service getting better towards the customer, using technology better. There is always room to grow.
We were only able to host one The Whole Kitchen event because COVID hit. We had to hold and that is when our focus shifted in launching Casa Dos Chicas Café as a brand of TWK. Expansion is important, but knowing when to pivot if something is not quite going as planned with what you are doing is vital. Planning ahead and having a vision is imperative. What are some of the cultural traditions you are both bringing to CDCC and excited to share with customers?
We have many things brewing (pun intended)! One of them is bringing back traditional Latin American ways to prepare coffee – of course you will see Mexico and Dominican Republic first. We partnered with Colamo Café, an artist from DR that makes the most beautiful traditional cafeteras. We will have our collaboration for sale soon on our site.
Through our work and offerings, we are highlighting at-home coffee preparation methods and the attentive cultural traditions that our mothers, tias (aunts), and grandmothers taught us when it comes to serving our guests. We are bringing back the moment of simply pausing during the afternoon while having a cup of coffee. The western culture often leaves us tired after a long day with no opportunity to simply sit down and have a conversation along with a cup of coffee.
Click here to read the full article on Girl Talk HQ.
Two Mexican Americans who have dedicated their lives to fighting for equality and the advancement of Latinos were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, at the White House on Thursday.
Raúl Yzaguirre is the founder and former leader of the National Council of La Raza, considered the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group, renamed UnidosUS, and Julieta García is a former president of the University of Texas at Brownsville — the first Latina to serve as a U.S. university president.
Born a decade apart in the Rio Grande Valley, Yzaguirre and García took lessons from their upbringings in the South Texas region to achieve positions of power, which they then used to dismantle discrimination and fight for the advancement of Latinos and other people of color.
Yzaguirre, 82, born in San Juan, Texas, took a small organization with about $500,000 and 23 affiliates and grew it into a formidable one with a $40 million budget and 250 affiliates.
The group helped shape policy on immigration, education, voting rights and more. Yzaguirre stepped down in 2004, after 30 years at its helm.
He also served as the ambassador to the Dominican Republic under President Barack Obama.
García, 73, born in Brownsville, Texas, was president of UT-Brownsville and helped oversee its merger with University of Texas Pan American to become UT-Rio Grande Valley, which serves mostly Latinos. She fought for money from the state’s Permanent University Fund, which holds 2.1 million acres and revenue from oil and gas leases on the land, to create the university.
UT-Rio Grande Valley is ranked in the top three schools awarding bachelor’s degrees to Latinos.
Yzaguirre and García are among 17 people awarded the medal Thursday by President Joe Biden. Among the honorees are former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz.; Olympic gymnast Simone Biles; U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe; the actor Denzel Washington; and posthumously, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple.
Yzaguirre’s work with UnidosUS rested heavily on bringing together the nation’s increasingly diverse Latino population to forge a stronger political force that could command the attention of Washington power brokers. The 2020 census counted 62 million Latinos in the U.S.
“What Raúl doesn’t get enough recognition for is how much of a visionary he was,” said Lisa Navarette, who worked with Yzaguirre and now is an adviser to UnidosUS President Janet Murguía.
“In the early ’70s he was already envisioning what would become the Latino community,” Navarrete said.
Yzaguirre was raised by his grandparents and was heavily influenced by his grandfather’s own story of nearly being lynched by Texas Rangers when he was out past a curfew imposed by the state on Mexican Americans and Mexicans at the time, according to a 2016 biography, “Raul H. Yzaguirre: Seated at the Table of Power,” by Stella Pope Duarte.
Yzaguirre was a protégé of the civil rights leader Dr. Hector P. García, a Mexican American physician who formed the civil rights group American GI Forum after witnessing mistreatment of Mexican American World War II veterans. Navarette said García helped Yzaguirre channel his anger over discrimination into activism.
Yzaguirre’s work in Washington continues to have an impact. Charles Kamasaki, a senior adviser at UnidosUS, recalled Yzaguirre deciding to agree to compromise on what became the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. He didn’t like the enforcement levels in the bill and had worked to improve it until finally agreeing to a compromise in 1986, giving about 3 million immigrants without legal status in the U.S. a chance to become lawful permanent residents.
Yzaguirre helped produce a scathing report on the Smithsonian Institution’s failure to serve and hire Latinos, a report that was instrumental in last year’s approval of a National Museum of the American Latino.
His tenure was also marked by clashes with administrations. He quit a commission on education and Hispanics in the 1990s in frustration over its partisanship and delays and picketed President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration over its lack of Hispanics.
Who can forget the smell of a Saturday spent cleaning, as the sound of music blasted in the background: the smell that filled the air and made you get up knowing you would have to grab a broom and help out?
Or perhaps you recall the smell of hot chocolate and pan dulce as you sat around the table hearing your comadre’s latest chisme.
What if you can relive those memories by lighting a candle in your room? While you fold that pile of laundry you’ve been putting off.
Marcella Gomez, a mother, nurse and cancer survivor from Downey is the founder of Oh Comadre Candles, a Latina-owned business that quite literally captures those memories in a candle.
“Oh Comadre Candles celebrate life through a Latina’s eye. The candles are intended to evoke emotion, comfort, memory, or even a laugh,” Gomez said.
Gomez started her business online in 2014 as a form of therapy, and time away from the nursing job she had at the time. It was a way for her to disconnect from the stress of a work day and help distract her, she explains.
In October of 2020, Gomez was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has since received treatment and has been in remission.
She says she would like her story to be an example of the importance of taking care of your health and seeing your doctor.
“Take care of yourself like we take care of others,” Gomez said. “If your best friend told you they found a lump, you would drop everything and help your good friend seek medical attention. Why not do the same for yourself?”
Since starting her business, Gomez has gained over 76,000 followers on Instagram and has recently opened her first storefront in Downey a couple of months ago.
“I have nothing but gratitude for anyone taking the time to walk through our door. It’s an awesome feeling that any small business can relate,” Gomez said. “I couldn’t believe the amount of support the shop recieved. I still can’t believe it. Someone please pinch me.”
Gomez says it was a long process to find the right formula for her candles. Then in 2016 she received her first online order.
“I could not believe someone purchased it from me. I thought it was a joke because the order came on my birthday. Fortunately, it was the first of many orders to come,” Gomez said.
Most Latinos can relate to the scents of Fabuloso, Vaporub, Pan Dulce, Abuelita Hot Chocolate, Horchata, and even Jabon Zote.
These are the scents of childhood and the day to day that bring happiness and can now be enjoyed in your sala.
Click here to read the full article on NBC Los Angeles.
Like many immigrants, Latines have a complicated history with secondhand shopping. Some of us grew up parsing through thrift stores out of necessity. Others were raised to avoid them at all costs, viewing shiny, new things as symbols of success. In recent years, an alternative school of thought has emerged from both ends of the spectrum: more and more, Latine shoppers of all class backgrounds are embracing pre-owned clothing for its prices as well as sustainability and style points.
“Growing up first-generation in a super white community, I couldn’t comfortably sit in one group or the other. I used clothes to express myself,” Mexican-American Isabel Robles tells Refinery29 Somos. Upon entering her teen years, this meant exploring the once-taboo worlds of thrift and consignment stores. “As I grew up, I grew more comfortable with my individuality, and shopping vintage and secondhand gave me the opportunity to pull pieces and style myself differently from everyone else.”
Others, like Moises Mendez II, shop secondhand as a way to honor their elders’ values. “My mom, who is from the Dominican Republic, is the biggest believer in ‘if you can get it for cheaper, why not?’ She also does her best to be environmentally conscious,” he explains. “Because I saw those two things growing up, they’ve been instilled in me, and I feel like I’m fulfilling them by shopping secondhand.”
No matter your motives for buying secondhand, it’s also a great way to support Latine entrepreneurs. Below, we’ve rounded up seven Latina-owned vintage and thrift stores that will change the way you shop. Keep reading to learn how each founder got their start, how they feel about sustainable shopping trends, and more.
The Plus Bus — Los Angeles, California
Co-Founded by Marcy Guevara-Prete
Origin Story: “My business partner and I had so many clothes. Not only did we want those clothes to go to other happy homes, but we wanted a place to come and actually have a shopping experience in person. It’s so stressful and feels like such a disparity that the amount of options for our straight-size counterparts are just so abundant, yet there’s just nothing for plus-size shoppers. But we have money to spend, places to go, people to see.”
On Sustainability & Personal Growth: “When we started the store, sustainability was not on my radar. But it has become so important to me and such a central part of our business. Not only do we know fashion is a huge polluter of the planet, but I care about my wallet, I care about investing in brands that do care and are trying to be ethical. I really try to shop out of The Plus Bus, and I’ve been able to do that successfully for almost three years now.”
Current Boutique —Washington, DC
Founded by Carmen Lopez
Origin Story: “Growing up, my mother and I would visit la segunda for treasures every weekend. I saw an opening in the market to make consignment shopping cool, modern, and on-trend. At 28 years old, I saved enough money to launch my business, Current Boutique. My parents, especially my father, didn’t support my decision. No one in our family worked for themselves, definitely not a woman. I started with a lease on a small brick-and-mortar storefront and grew it to three. Now, it’s evolved into a national e-commerce consignment website.”
On Attention to Detail: “I was brought up to know that everything has value and I should cherish my belongings to make them last. We tell our customers to bring us natural fabric items made from cashmere, silk, linen, and cotton. Not only do they hold their value, but their new owners will get repeat uses, which is the key to circular fashion.”
Poorly Curated — New York City
Founded by Jamie Espino
Origin Story: “As a kid, my Tata would take me thrifting. We’d go thrifting and we’d go to lunch. After college, I started applying to jobs at bigger fashion companies, but then I realized none of these places shared my beliefs. The more I thought about how I’d be spending my time, the more I was like, ‘I should just try to do vintage full time.’ Now, it’s about to be six years. I love what I’m doing with Poorly Curated.”
On the Cost of Fast Fashion: “At the end of the day, vintage is a very sustainable way of shopping, especially compared to disposable fashion, which is mostly made by people of color who aren’t getting paid fair wages. Why would I want to contribute to people who look like me not getting paid fairly? Also, when it comes to climate change, it’s always poor communities of color that tend to be affected. Why would I do that to myself, essentially?”
Fresa Thrift — Denton, Texas
Founded by Anisa Gutierrez
Origin Story: “Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I opened my store, Fresa Thrift, but during the lockdown, I decided to quit my full-time job and just jump into the store full time. It was a combination of what I loved and needing to love myself.”
On Owning a Business: “I’ve always had a boss, so it’s hard for me to see myself as my own boss. As a Latina in the workplace, I was the one who said, ‘I’m going to put my head down and work.’ I wasn’t around a lot of people who looked like me, and I wasn’t going to give them a reason to look down on me. For my mother and my grandmother, starting a business was never an option or a thought. For me to do it and have them say, ‘You make it look so easy,’ it’s nice to hear. It makes me wonder: What would their small businesses have been?”
Debutante Vintage Clothing — Pomona, California
Founded by Sandra Mendoza
Origin Story: “I had amassed so much vintage for myself to wear that I had to start selling some of it. In 1998, I started flipping things on eBay and realized, ‘Wow, I can make some money.’ Eventually, it grew into my business, Debutante Vintage Clothing.”
On Generational Shifts: “When I first started my business, my parents were like, ‘Eso trapos viejos, ¿vas a vender?’ It’s only been this year — and I’ve been in business since 2005 — when I showed them my shop, and they were like, ‘Oh, it’s nice here. It’s organized.’ As immigrants, they wanted everything brand new and shiny. I’m so proud that younger people are embracing secondhand and even mending and repurposing. As a business owner, inventory has become a lot harder to source [laughs]. But as a social movement, I’m so happy.”
Click here to read the full article on Refinery 29.
Golden State Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson has become the first player of Mexican descent to win an NBA championship.
The 27-year-old Oakland native won the title with his hometown team Thursday night (June 16). The Warriors beat the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA Finals 103-90 to win the series 4-2.
During the trophy presentation ceremony, Juan Toscano-Anderson held the Mexican flag proudly after the coveted Larry O’Brien championship trophy was handed to the team’s owners. This year’s championship marks the fourth one in eight years that the Warriors have won. In those eight years, the Warriors have been to the NBA Finals six times.
Later, Toscano-Anderson can be seen chanting “MVP” from the stage when his teammate Stephen Curry was named Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals for the first time in his career.
“Everybody on this stage has a part in this – from the front office, coaches, players,” Curry said.
Toscano-Anderson’s road to an NBA Championship was a challenging one. He played four years for Marquette University before going undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft. He then started playing professional basketball in Mexico’s Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional. He also played in the Liga Profesional de Baloncesto in Venezuela and for the Santa Cruz Warriors in the NBA’s G League.
In February 2020, Toscano-Anderson was signed by the Warriors for three years. His deal was converted to a full-time contract in May 2021. Earlier this year, he participated in the 2022 NBA Slam Dunk Contest at the All-Star Game wearing a pair of customized Nike tennis shoes designed to look like the Mexican flag.