Latinx—What Does it Really Mean?

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Latinx is a gender neutral term often used in lieu of Latino or Latina that refers to individuals with cultural ties to Latin America and individuals with Latin American descent. The -x replaces the standard o/a ending of Latino and is intended to be more gender inclusive.

The term originally appeared online in queer forums, but has slowly gained recognition in academic spaces and social media platforms. There is a current ongoing debate surrounding the usage of the term, as well as the other proposed attempts at introducing gender neutrality.

Latinx is mainly used in academic spaces and social media platforms like Tumblr and Twitter. College students in particular have taken to using the word, especially within Latino student organizations.

At Princeton University, the Princeton University Latinx Perspective Organization was created in 2016 to “unify Princeton’s diverse Latinx community.” Student run organizations that utilize Latinx in their title also exist at other institutions, including Oberlin College and Conservatory, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Iowa State University, highlighting the widespread usage of the term at the undergraduate level.

The term has also gained massive popularity given its usage on social media platforms. Originally used online, Latinx has been increasingly used by multiple blogs that cater to a Latino audience, which has added to its popularity. Prominent Latino run websites like BeVisible Latinx, we are mitú, and Remezcla have utilized the word extensively on their own websites, bringing awareness of the word to a larger audience.

While Latinx has been increasingly used amongst college students and academics, the term itself has not achieved widespread usage at the US national level. Race and ethnicity categories on official United States federal government documents only offer the category of Hispanic or Latino.
No other gender neutral term like Latine or Latin@ are utilized on these forms either.

Although utilization of Latinx is nonexistent on official government documentation, mention of the word has been made in past bills. In a proposed bill to the US Senate, the Community Outreach and Engagement Coordinator at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England utilized the word Latinx when advocating for the passing of Senate Bill 147. The mention of the term within official US documentation is a testament to the widening use of the term beyond academic spaces.

This 31-year-old quit her $150,000-a-year tech job to start an equal pay app: Here’s how she got started
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Christen Nino De Guzman, founder of Clara for CreatorsPhoto: Christen Nino De Guzman

By Christen Nino De Guzman, CNBC

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.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

Former WNBA star Niesha Butler opens first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp in New York City
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Former WNBA star Niesha Butler opens first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp in New York City

By ABC News Radio

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 to Support Entrepreneurs of Color in the Food, Beverage and Hospitality Industry with the Return of the Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund
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SIA Scotch Whisky founder holding a bottle

By Yahoo! Finance

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 [1]. 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 [2], 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 [3].

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.

Meet The Latina Founders Of A Specialty Coffee Company Dedicated To Celebrating Latin American Heritage
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Casa Dos Chicas Café Founders Ana Ocansey-Jimenez and Oneida Franco

By Girl Talk HQ

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.

Latina-Owned Candle Business Captures the Scents of Childhood
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Latina-Owned Candle Business Captures the Scents of Childhood

By Génesis Miranda Miramontes, NBC Los Angeles

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.

7 Latina-Owned Secondhand Shops That Promote Sustainability
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7 Latina-Owned Secondhand Shops That Promote Sustainability

By Tess Garcia, Refinery 29

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

Image from The Plus Bus vintage store
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

Image from Current Boutique vintage store
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

Image from Poorly Curated Vintage Store.
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

Image from Fresa Thrift Vintage Store
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

Image from Debutante Vintage Clothing
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.

Jennifer Lopez Wants to Give Latina Entrepreneurs the Capital Boost They Need
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Jennifer Lopez Wants to Give Latina Entrepreneurs the Capital Boost They Need

By  Yamily Habib, Be Latina

We have often talked about the economic strength of the Latino community — especially Latinas. We are not only one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups but also the ones who have jump-started the nation’s economy before and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, one of the biggest obstacles for entrepreneurs and business owners is access to resources and start-up capital.

This reality is so evident that big names like Jennifer Lopez have stepped up to the plate to address it.

The singer announced that she has joined forces with microfinance organization Grameen America to give Latina entrepreneurs the capital boost they need, adding up to $14 billion in capital.

As reported by Forbes, Jennifer Lopez announced Thursday that, as a national ambassador for Grameen, she will help mentor the organization’s network of more than 150,000 women-led small businesses in Latino communities across the country.

Together with Grameen, a nonprofit that provides access to capital, credit building, and financial education, Lopez will reinvigorate her philanthropic project, Limitless Labs, to provide 600,000 Latina entrepreneurs with $14 billion in loan capital and 6 million hours of financial education by 2030.

By joining Grameen’s microloan program, Jennifer Lopez will “motivate, promote, and inspire” Latina business owners and educate them on credit and asset-building to help them “understand the pathway to financial independence and literacy,” according to Grameen.

The partnership will build “pathways to employment and leadership opportunities” to harness the “strength” of the Latinx community, Lopez said in a statement.

“Being Latino in this country has always been a matter of pride for me. I am humbled and beyond grateful to partner with Grameen America. We’re building pathways to employment and leadership opportunities. There’s so much strength in this community, and we’re harnessing that. This partnership will create equality, inclusivity, and opportunity for Latina women in business,” she added.

She also told Inc. that her mother did not go to college because she did not have that access, but through this new partnership, Jennifer Lopez hopes to create a more equitable and inclusive landscape.

Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.

Young L.A. Latina wins prestigious environmental prize
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Nalleli Cobo holds the ouroboros environmental prize

By Edwin Flores, NBC News

At age 9, Nalleli Cobo was experiencing asthma, body spasms, heart palpitations and nosebleeds so severe she needed to sleep in a chair to prevent herself from choking on her own blood.

Across the street from her family’s apartment in University Park in South Central Los Angeles was an oil extraction site owned by Allenco Energy that was spewing fumes into the air and the community around her.

After speaking with neighbors facing similar symptoms, she and her family began to mobilize with their community, suspecting that was making them sick. They created the People Not Pozos (People Not Oil Wells) campaign. At 9 years old, Cobo was designated the campaign’s spokesperson, marking the start of her activism and organizing career.

In March 2020, Cobo, the co-founder of the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition, helped lead the group to permanently shut down the Allenco Energy oil drilling site that she and others in the community said caused serious health issues for them. She also helped convince the Los Angeles City Council and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to unanimously vote to ban new oil exploration and phase out existing sites in Los Angeles.

After pressure from the community and scrutiny from elected officials, Allenco Energy agreed to suspend operations in 2013. The site was permanently shut down in 2020, and the company was charged in connection with state and local environmental health and safety regulations. There are ongoing issues around cleaning and plugging up the oil wells.

Cobo co-founded the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition in 2015 to bolster efforts against oil sites and work toward phasing them out across the city.

That year, the youth group sued the city of Los Angeles, alleging violations of the California Environmental Quality Act and environmental racism. The suit was settled after the city implemented new drilling application requirements.

Cobo, now 21, was recognized Wednesday for the environmental justice work that has spanned more than half her life. She received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, which is awarded annually to individuals from six regions: Europe, Asia, Africa, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America.

“I did not want to answer the phone because it was an unknown number,” Cobo, who was getting bubble tea when she received the call about the prize, told NBC News in a Zoom interview Wednesday. “I didn’t even know I was nominated. I started crying.”

During the 1920s, Los Angeles was one of the world’s largest urban oil-exporting regions. More than 20,000 active, idle, or abandoned oil wells still reside in the county, and about one-third of residents live less than a mile from an active oil site.

Studies have shown that living near oil and gas wells increases exposure to air pollution, with nearby communities facing environmental and health risks including preterm birth, asthma and heart disease.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

Who Is Johnny Depp’s Latina Lawyer, Camille Vasquez?
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Camille Vasquez wearing all white in a courtroom

By Yamily Habib, Be Latina

Forget Amber Heard or the trial circus that the legal battle between the actress and movie icon Johnny Depp has become. The real star is Camille Vasquez, Depp’s lawyer who has gone viral on social media, inspiring thousands of Latinas around the world.

As USA Today explained, Vasquez, 37, is one of Depp’s nine lawyers in his $100 million defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Heard. Today, she is almost as big a social media phenomenon as the two protagonists in one of the most widely followed lawsuits in recent years.

Born in San Francisco to Cuban and Colombian parents, Camille Vasquez graduated in 2006 from the University of Southern California and in 2010 from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, the BBC explained.

For the past four years, she has been an associate at Brown Rudnick, the high-profile law firm hired by Johnny Depp to represent him in his $50 million defamation case against Heard. Vasquez is one of nine lawyers at the firm involved in the trial.

She specializes in litigation and arbitration, focusing on representing plaintiffs in defamation cases, and in 2021, she was named one of Best Lawyer magazine’s “One to Watch” lawyers.

She previously assisted Depp in claims against his former lawyer Jake Bloom and his former business manager Joel Mandel.

Today, the hashtag #camillevasquez has more than 980 million impressions on TikTok. A video of her quick objections to Heard’s lead attorney Elaine Bredehoft had nearly 30 million views.

The two-minute TikTok video of her courtroom interruptions with the caption “where did this woman get her degree?” coincided with a 1,820% increase in Google searches for Southwestern Law School, Vasquez’s alma mater, research from the higher education website Erudera shows.

Similarly, thousands of Latina law students have been inspired by Camille Vasquez to continue fighting for their dreams.

“Had to meet Camille Vasquez and tell her what an inspiration she is to so many Latinas!” gushed Carol Dagny (@caritodagny) on TikTok. To which Andrea (@b.andrea111) replied: “As a Latina entering my final year of law school, no one has gotten me as excited to join the field like she has!”

Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.

Abuela’s Counter: How Two Latinas Are Helping People Connect Through Cooking
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cooking co founders of Abuela's Counter

By Be Latina

For many families, the ultimate form of connection happens in the kitchen — the foods, flavors, smells, and traditions that take place around a kitchen counter, are what bring loved ones together across borders and across generations.

That is especially true for immigrants, who often leave everything behind in search of a better life, bringing only their memories, their rituals, and their recipes with them.

The co-founders of Abuela’s Counter feel this deep in their souls.

Abuela’s Counter is the brand-new, foodie-focused website and Instagram account you need in your life. The Cuban-American entrepreneurs behind the operation are building a community of food-lovers who, like them, learned important life lessons at their Abuelas’ counters.

Bringing Cuban Food and Cuban Connections to Life for a New Generation
Ani Mezerhane and Cristina Bustamante – two Miami-based Latinas who come from Cuban families – came up with the concept of Abuela’s Counter when bonding over their shared love of food and their deep obsession with all things delicious, especially the traditional Cuban dishes they grew up with. But, to them, food is about more than just what sustains you physically; it’s equally about what fills your soul. It’s what connects them to their roots, their ancestors, and to where they came from.

They realized that they can’t be the only Cuban Americans who spent the bulk of their childhood absorbing crucial nuggets of wisdom – the importance of family, never forget where you came from, and always include raisins in picadillo (we know this is an ongoing debate for many Cubans), how to craft a perfect croqueta, and more – from their Abuelas at the kitchen counter.

Abuela’s Counter is all about teaching followers how to make traditional Cuban dishes with a modern spin. The concept is that Cuban cooking can be intimidating – possibly because recipes can take a lot of time and patience and possibly because your grandmother never actually taught you how to make her specialties – and they want to help people connect to their Cuban roots through cooking.

Food as a Love Language for Latinas
“Cuban culture is a very mothering culture. It’s all about our mothers and Abuelas taking care of everything and taking care of us, not just with love, but also with food. Food is our love language,” explains Ani to BELatina News.

“So, in many cases, our generation never really learned to cook, because it was always something that our relatives did for us. That’s intimidating, trying to re-make those recipes.” And it’s not just about the actual methods and recipes, but also the emotions behind these dishes. “The myths and the legends that surround these dishes can be very intimidating to try to recreate,” Cristina added.

What if you try to make a traditional dish you grew up eating, but you mess it up? Or what if your Abuela never showed you how to make it and you have to start from scratch? It can certainly feel overwhelming, which is a common sentiment that Abuela’s Counter is hoping to tackle one flan at a time.

After all, food and all of the senses that go along with it can take us back to our childhoods and help us bond with family members of all generations. The traditions in the kitchen are what bring us all together, and that’s never been more true than for families of immigrants. “No matter what we do, it always comes back to food. It all goes back to sitting at Abuela’s counter and learning about life. Learning how food doesn’t just feed us but brings us together,” Ani and Cristina say on their website.

On their Instagram page, they offer easy-to-follow recipes, and how-to videos showcasing simple ways to whip up Cuban masterpieces. From Guava Coconut Cookies to Ropa Vieja to Arroz Con Pollo, Cuban Flan, and everything in between, they’re taking the mystery out of the equation so anyone can make these dishes.

Their recipes are broken down in detail on their website. There are no secret steps or mysterious quantities (did you ever notice how older generations always add “a pinch” of this or “a splash” of that?). Just easy to follow, simple, step-by-step recipes of classic favorites that have probably been haunting you since birth. We’re looking at you Cuban flan.

Flan is a favorite of both Ani and Cristina, which is why they were so proud when they got it just right.

For an easy weeknight (or any night) dinner, they swear by their Fricase de Pollo, a comforting chicken dish that fills you up in all the important ways.

Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.

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