How One Skincare Company Is Reclaiming The Clean Beauty Of Their Latina Ancestors
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VAMIGAS is a clean skin care, hair care and beauty brand created by Latinas using botanicals from Latin America. VAMIGAS

By Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo, Forbes

Multiple academic studies have found that Latinas have more hormone-disrupting chemicals in their bodies than white women. Researchers say this may be due to Latinas outspending other groups in beauty purchases by 30%. They also have higher infertility rates, breast cancer, and U.S.-born Latinas are three times more likely to experience preterm birth than their foreign-born counterparts.

According to a Nielsen report from 2013, Hispanic women are a key growth engine of the U.S. female population. They are estimated to become 30% of the total female population by 2060, while the white female population will drop to 43%. The report also predicts that by 2060, there will be no single dominant ethnic group. Instead, the female (and total) population will comprise a diverse ethnic plurality where Latinas play a sizable role.

Despite these projections, skincare brands targeting Latinas tend to hide problematic chemicals like phthalates, parabens, phenols, and preservatives in their products, often in fragrances. However, excellent products are costly and largely avoid marketing to Latinas or market them incorrectly, treating them as an afterthought or homogeneous.

Christina Kelmon, one of the few Latina investors in Silicon Valley and CEO of the makeup brand Belle en Argent, has created a skincare brand, Vamigas, that aims to reclaim the clean beauty ingredients of her ancestors. It is fragrance-free, affordable, and knows how to speak to the modern Latinx Woman.

“I read these studies when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I tried to be very mindful of what I put into my body, but it was hard, almost impossible, to find products that were clean and affordable and that spoke to me,” Kelmon shared. “This is why I created a makeup brand and a wellness and skincare brand that speaks directly to the Latinx community.”

Multiple academic studies have found that Latinas have more hormone-disrupting chemicals in their bodies than white women. Researchers say this may be due to Latinas outspending other groups in beauty purchases by 30%. They also have higher infertility rates, breast cancer, and U.S.-born Latinas are three times more likely to experience preterm birth than their foreign-born counterparts.

According to a Nielsen report from 2013, Hispanic women are a key growth engine of the U.S. female population. They are estimated to become 30% of the total female population by 2060, while the white female population will drop to 43%. The report also predicts that by 2060, there will be no single dominant ethnic group. Instead, the female (and total) population will comprise a diverse ethnic plurality where Latinas play a sizable role.

Despite these projections, skincare brands targeting Latinas tend to hide problematic chemicals like phthalates, parabens, phenols, and preservatives in their products, often in fragrances. However, excellent products are costly and largely avoid marketing to Latinas or market them incorrectly, treating them as an afterthought or homogeneous.

Christina Kelmon, one of the few Latina investors in Silicon Valley and CEO of the makeup brand Belle en Argent, has created a skincare brand, Vamigas, that aims to reclaim the clean beauty ingredients of her ancestors. It is fragrance-free, affordable, and knows how to speak to the modern Latinx Woman.

“I read these studies when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I tried to be very mindful of what I put into my body, but it was hard, almost impossible, to find products that were clean and affordable and that spoke to me,” Kelmon shared. “This is why I created a makeup brand and a wellness and skincare brand that speaks directly to the Latinx community.”

Kelmon, a 4th generation Mexican-American, and cofounder Ann Dunning, from Chile, discovered Latinas and infertility issues and the paraben-fragrance connection. As a result, they have created a line of skincare serums with clean, organic ingredients like Yerba Mate, Maracuja, Rosa Mosqueta, Prickly Pear, and Chia from Chile, Mexico Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, and more.

“We want to be the leading clean beauty and skincare brand focused on Latinas in the industry,” said Kelmon. “A wellness brand that Latinas feel connected to, that speaks our language, understands where they come from, and doesn’t use old, tired stereotypes that don’t apply to us anymore.”

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

Meet The Young Latina Immigrant Behind Boston’s First Zero-Waste Store
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Latina Immigrant opens first zero waste store

By The Bay State Banner

In a sunny storefront not far from the Boston Harbor, Maria Vasco lingers off to the side of the cash register, smiling but nervous, as she watches one of her first two employees ring up a customer. For over a year, Vasco was the only employee — the founder and CEO — of Uvida, Boston’s first and only zero-waste shop.

The name comes from the Spanish word “vida” meaning “life.” Vasco said she tells customers “you give life” by shopping plastic-free and reducing waste. Uvida offers a variety of home-goods essentials in plastic-free packaging, from deodorant and lip balm in cardboard tubes to tissues and toilet paper made from recycled materials.

“The business is just myself, which in the beginning was great. But it started getting isolated, getting to be too much on my plate. Right now is my first time having employees,” Vasco told Zenger News.

The storefront opened last December during the pandemic, but Vasco launched the business as an online shop in 2019, while still a full-time student at University of Massachusetts-Boston.

“I worked part-time at restaurants and internships just to make ends meet. Then at nighttime, I would stay up until four in the morning doing market research, looking at products, making my website,” Vasco said. “And it was like the best time of my life. I just was having so much fun doing it, that it didn’t matter how much I had on my plate. I always made time for that.”

Vasco started advocating for environmental issues in high school while competing with the debate team. That’s where she first came across the statistic that in 2050 the ocean will have more plastic than fish.

“I never thought the spark I felt was based on the things I was advocating for, I thought it was because I was debating,” Vasco said.

When it came time for college, Vasco, who was born in Cali, Colombia, and moved to East Boston at age 4, chose to attend UMass-Boston for its diversity and affordability. She was undocumented until her junior year of college, making her ineligible for federal financial aid. (Massachusetts allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition.) Vasco’s debate coach suggested she pursue a degree in political science.

“By the first semester, I was like ‘no way, I cannot do this.’ It just wasn’t my spark.”

While looking for a class to fulfill a science requirement, Vasco landed on environmental science and quickly fell in love with it. After switching her major, she started talking to her professors outside of class, learning about their specific areas of research and expertise. Through those conversations, Vasco decided she wanted to focus on plastic pollution.

“This is something I can control, because I touch plastic every day,” Vasco remembers.

It was during her freshman year of college that Vasco started trying out plastic-free products. There were some she loved, and some she didn’t, but purchasing any of them required a lot of online research. When she did settle on a product she liked, she would have to remember the website in order to restock. She wanted a curation of products she liked all in one place, and that sparked her idea for Uvida.

“I am my own ideal customer,” Vasco said. “I also need to shop plastic-free. I use all these products myself. So I realized that if I don’t have this store, even in my own city, and I have to be the one that does it, then I will.”

Click here to read the full article on The Bay State Banner.

The future of homeownership is Latino
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homeownership growing. Single-family home under construction in the Cadence Park development of The Great Park Neighborhoods in Irvine, Calif., on April 14, 2021.

By Janet Alvarez, CNBC + Acorns

Amid the recent real estate bull market, one fact has been often overlooked: More than half of home ownership growth over the past decade has come from the Latino population. That trend is expected to continue. A study by the Urban Institute forecasts Latino buyers will comprise 70 percent of home ownership growth from 2020-2040, serving as the growth engine of American home buying. In fact, the Urban Institute suggests that Latinos will be the only ethnic or racial group that will experience a higher home ownership rate over the next couple of decades.

Financial crisis and home ownership
In the years since the 2008-2009 financial crisis and sub-prime mortgage meltdown, Latino home ownership rates declined to a low of approximately 45 percent of the Hispanic population in 2014, according to data from the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP). By 2020, however, that rate had rebounded to approximately 49 percent, similar to its pre-crisis peak, driven in part by lower interest rates and an improving job market.

The age structure of the Latino population — which at an average age of about 29-years-old is approximately 14 years younger than the general population — is one of the most significant contributors to the strong growth in the home ownership rate, according to NAHREP. In 2020, nearly half (43.6 percent) of Latino homebuyers were under the age of 34, compared to 37.3 percent of the general population. Today, nearly one in three Latinos is currently in the prime home buying years (25-44), according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Additionally, as other ethnic groups’ populations grow older on average in the coming years, that tilts the home ownership growth rate further in favor of Latinos, since first-time home owners tend to be in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

Down payments, credit scores and mortgages
Despite the trends in Latinos’ favor, there are ongoing — and new — barriers to home ownership that many Hispanics face.

Latinos purchase homes with an average down payment of 3.5 percent, and have a median credit score of 668 and median debt-to-income ratio of 41 percent, a borrower profile which may make them more vulnerable to mortgage underwriting standards cut-offs and changes, according to the NAHREP study. Additionally, historically low home inventory and a hot real estate market for entry-level buyers may create further barriers.

“The housing market is hottest in the entry-level or affordable space, and prospective buyers are competing with multiple bids for the same home,” said Dale Baker, president of home lending at KeyBank. “We are seeing more regular occurrences of buyers willing to pay over list price, which means more money down, which again presents a challenge for those looking to buy a home in our communities.”

The pricing pressure on entry-level buyers is especially acute in many large markets, where prices have increased by 10-15 percent this year. This leads to higher down payments and overall borrowing costs, when combined with interest rates that are beginning to creep upward.

“A family looking to purchase their first home can expect a larger down payment and/or mortgage payment,” Baker said. “Not only have prices gone up, but mortgage rates are rising too. While still near historically low levels, rates are off their lows of the cycle and expected to continue to increase as the economy improves. These trends both contribute to the barriers of home ownership.”

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

Puerto Rican Artisan Wins the National Hispanic Fellowship Award
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Nellie Vera is renowned for her mastery of mundillo as an artisan

By The Weekly Journal

The ICP submitted the nomination of the distinguished artisan in the discipline of “mundillo” (handmade bobbin lace, popular in Puerto Rico and Panama), who was selected this year along with 8 other artists from all over the United States. “At 95 years old, and with a long career in the Puerto Rican arts, particularly in mundillo, Mrs. Nellie is worthy of this important award and distinction. We thank you and congratulate you for promoting this beautiful art that represents our history, culture and tradition,” said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

Moreover, ICP Executive Director Carlos Ruiz Cortés said “with this distinction to the artisan Nellie Vera, her career, commitment and dedication to the art of mundillo and Puerto Rican culture is recognized. Nellie has not only dedicated her life to developing and demonstrating her great talent, she has also been a teacher who has shared her knowledge with multiple generations, helping to keep alive the tradition of mundillo.”

The National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts is the highest recognition given to excellence, trajectory, and contributions in the folk and traditional arts. This important recognition of Mrs. Nellie Vera makes her the 12th Puerto Rican to receive the prestigious award, instituted in 1982.

Nellie Vera is a renowned artisan teacher of mundillo, a native of Moca, who has received multiple awards throughout her career as Master Craftswoman (2004), Consecrated Craftswoman (2012), Patriotic Symbol (2014).

The 95-year-old “mundillera” was inducted into the Puerto Rican Handicraft Hall of Fame in 2015 and was one of the founders of the collective of “mundilleras,” Borinquen Lacers, of the Mundillo Museum in Moca and of the Mocan Artisans Workshop, which came to home over 300 artisans from the town of Moca. In 2009 she received the Artisan Excellence Award from the ICP.

Doña Nellie is part of the prestigious Directory of Great Masters of Popular Art in Latin America published by Fomento Cultural Banamex in Mexico, and her art has taken her to Spain and Belgium, both countries with a great mundillo tradition.

Click here to read the full article on The Weekly Journal.

Best Latin Dating Sites In 2021
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Hispanic couple met on dating site and are laying in the grass

How to find single people from Latin countries who are dreaming of romance and don’t mind starting a long-distance relationship? The answer is simpler than you may think — Latin dating sites can help you meet hispanic singles from any region of the world.

International online dating has been widely popular in Latin countries, so you will be able to meet singles on popular latin dating sites effortlessly and even right today!

 

 

Top 7 Best Latin Dating Sites in 2021
LoveFort
LatinFeels
LatamDate
AmoLatina
InternationalCupid
LatinAmericanCupid
CaribbeanCupid

LoveFort

  • Users can attach video and images to messages
  • Plenty of search filters
  • Paid communication

LoveFort is a latin dating site with a clean design, detailed profiles of members (which shows their activity and serious intentions), and ordinary communication tools that can be used by any person who has ever sent messages. Video or audio communication is not available on this Latin dating service, although users can send and receive and send video clips during chatting. There is also the ‘Faces’ feature — a great tool for finding more romantic partners within a few minutes. Note, please, that all the communication tools on this platform are paid, so, it is not a free latin dating site.

Mobile app

LoveFort doesn’t have its own mobile application. But you can easily use all the features via your mobile browser.

Pricing

LoveFort is a relatively affordable platform. Currently, you can purchase the following packages with credits:

  • $19.99 — 50 credits
  • $44.99 — 125 credits
  • $69.99 — 250 credits
  • $149.99 — 750 credits.

LatinFeels

  • User-friendly interface
  • Live chat (paid)
  • Gift delivery

Another wonderful platform for online dating. Using this site will be a simple but effective and enjoyable process — each element here is designed to be helpful, user-friendly, and understandable.

To find latino singles on this online site, you usually will be using live chatting and emails. These are the main options for communication. You can also send gifts and flowers to hispanic people you like, and use stickers and emojis to highlight some messages and make your communication more emotional.

Mobile app

Unfortunately, there is no official mobile application for this latin dating site. However, if you want to keep in touch with your dates, you can meet Latin singles by using your mobile browser.

Pricing

Just like many dating sites, LatinFeels is relatively cheap. It uses a credit-based system, so it is difficult to say how much you will spend. Here are the current prices:

  • $19.99 — 50 credits
  • $44.99 — 125 credits
  • $69.99 — 250 credits
  • $149.99 — 750 credits.

Click here to read the full article on the Scene.

ANDREA MORA: THE LATINA ENTREPRENEUR HELPING BRANDS WITH THEIR MARKETING ONE TIKTOK AT A TIME
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Andrea Mora, who has over 92K TikTok followers, has taken advantage of social media to expand her business. Andrea is seated in a white lace top with her hand under her chin while she smirks at the camera

By , Influencive

One way or another, social media is a huge part of our lives. We use it to access the news, be in touch with people in different parts of the world, share memes, post our photos, and allow others to see a glimpse into our lives. However, there is more to social media than pretty influencers posting their holiday pictures. Andrea Mora, who has over 92K TikTok followers, has taken advantage of social media to expand her business. She is the Latina entrepreneur helping brands with their marketing one TikTok at a time.

If you took a look at Andrea Mora’s TikTok account, you would think she has always led a life of success in front of the cameras. But that is not the reality. That is the life she was able to build for herself thanks to her parents’ hard work and her dedication and desire to make her dreams come true. When she was young, her family was forced to flee Venezuela due to the unsafety.

They spent time in Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Panama. This experience led her to learn new languages, immerse herself in different cultures, and gain the strength she needed to face any obstacles.

Growing up, she taught herself how to use social media and became an expert at it. From growing fandom accounts and reselling them, producing content for micro, macro, and mega influencers to working for Fortune 500 companies and delivering millions of views per week.

She graduated from Full Sail University with a Bachelor of Science in Media Communications and a job that allowed her to meet all her business idols. By the age of 22, Mora was Head of Global Trends at a marketing agency and spearheaded massive social media campaigns for world-renowned brands.

But last year, facing a global pandemic, Mora realized she wanted to take a different direction. So, she quit her job and started her own company to help other brands manage their marketing and create great strategies to draw attention to their products and services.

The best proof this Latina entrepreneur can give her clients is the growth of her own brand. After two months of sending out cold emails, Mora stopped as most of her clients found her through TikTok and started conversations with her. Her social media platform allowed her to grow her business into a successful one.

Aside from coaching personal brands and businesses on how to utilize vertical video content to increase brand awareness, sales, lead generation, and income, Mora works extremely hard creating content for her own accounts. She creates videos of all sorts for her TikTok account to share daily marketing and business tips.

Some of her best tips include how to make money on social media without a large number of followers, how to create a social media strategy, debunking social media marketing myths, and how businesses can create on TikTok.

Click here to read the full article on Influencive.

These Latina Businesses Are Changing How LA Shops — Online And IRL
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Latina Business Hija de tu Madre, a clothing, accessories and jewelry brand founded by Patty Delgado.

By Eva Recinos, LA ist

It’s easy to feel cynical about companies pushing identity for profit — witness major retailers stamping feminist mottos on everything from t-shirts and tote bags to baby onesies and barware — but some local brands are the genuine article. They’re not jumping on any bandwagon. They’re Latina-owned lifestyle businesses, creating and selling items to their communities. “We’re at a time where people are craving independently made wares, handmade wares and cultural goods,” says Noelle Reyes, co-founder of Highland Park boutique Mi Vida.

As online shopping decimates mega malls and forces old school retailers to rethink their strategies, independent brands are stepping up, using social media and community connections to make their mark. These businesses represent only a few of the city’s budding entrepreneurs but they’re making an impact — both online and in the real world.

Social Media Stars
Leah Guerrero has been making holistic skincare products — facial masks, face and body creams, hydrosols — since 2013. Two years ago, using knowledge and ingredients she gleaned from her trips to the mercados of Mexico City, she founded Brujita Skincare out of her home. She began selling her wares at Molcajete Dominguero, a now-monthly Latinx pop-up market in Boyle Heights. Her target audience? People looking for affordable vegan and cruelty-free products.

As the crowds grew, so did her social media following. Guerrero started sending products to friends and influencers. That “ricocheted into all of these people finding out about Brujita through Instagram,” she says.

To keep up with demand, she currently produces “thousands of units a month” at a rented studio in downtown Los Angeles. In April, Brujita launched a Green Collection in collaboration with Hotel Figueroa. Guests who order the Self-Care Package through mid-September get a one-night stay and a sleek toiletry bag containing four of the brand’s products.

With more than 19,000 followers, Brujita’s Instagram account features the requisite product photos, GIFs and behind-the-scenes peaks at new products. Guerrero engages with customers via DM and shares info on the account about the ingredients in each product. “With the engagement comes trust, and trust in my community means a whole lot to me,” she says.

Brujita has built a community that Guerrero wants to continue nurturing, particularly Latinx and LGBTQ+ groups. The brand’s current studio, in downtown Los Angeles, serves as a safe space for the LGBT community, with many “friends coming in and out and doing their creative work,” Guerrero says. Brujita is meant to be stylish, accessible and inclusive, a counterpoint to mainstream skincare brands built on Western ideals of beauty. Guerrero says a more formal physical location for Brujita Skincare is in the works.

Brick By Brick
For other Los Angeles brands, the IRL business came before the social media one. Reyes and her cousin, Danelle Hughes, opened Mi Vida in 2008, two years before Instagram debuted. The Highland Park shop sells clothes, housewares and art. It also functions as a gallery and a community hub, hosting poetry readings, yoga classes and meditation workshops.

“If you were a business that was a brick and mortar when social media came on, it’s almost like you automatically had to take on this new career,” Reyes says.

She began using photography to promote her products and it became a creative outlet. Instagram is also a way for her to scout and connect with new artists, some of whom have been featured in the store. Although Reyes has noticed more customers visiting Mi Vida after discovering it online, the connection also works the other way. For her, social media is a tool to supplement her store’s presence in a neighborhood where the founders have been working hard for years.

Conversations about gentrification in Boyle Heights are heated, and Mi Vida’s owners are aware of the controversy. “We hear all the time how great it is to have a space like ours on this street,” Reyes says. “That is something we don’t take lightly. We work very hard every day to continue to be a positive light in our community and offer products that bring a positive vibe.”

Click here to read the full article on LA ist.

Eva Longoria’s Flamin’ Hot Cheetos movie is finally a go
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Eva Longoria poses on the red carpet

By Lillian Stone, Yahoo! Life

The world’s been waiting with bated breath since 2018, when Fox Searchlight announced a biopic about Richard Montañez, the creator of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Now, Flamin’ Hot is moving forward with Eva Longoria set to direct and actors Jesse Garcia and Annie Gonzalez slated for the lead roles.

Longoria is an experienced TV director, with credits including Devious Maids, Black-ish, The Mick, and Telenovela. Now, she’s entering a feature directorial era with the Searchlight project, focusing on the story of Richard Montañez. Variety explains that Montañez, the son of Mexican immigrant farm workers, started as a janitor at the Frito-Lay factory in Rancho Cucamonga, California, before inventing the wildly popular snack food.

As Newsweek explains, Montañez invented the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto after a broken machine on the Cheetos assembly line produced a batch of plain, undusted Cheeto puffs. Montañez took the Cheetos home and dusted them with chili powder, an idea inspired by elotes street vendors. He then pitched the recipe to Roger Enrico, the company’s CEO at the time. Now, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are a junk food staple.

Longoria told Variety that it was her “biggest priority to make sure we are telling Richard Montañez’s story authentically.” She went on to comment on the actors, saying: “I am so happy to have two extremely talented and fellow Mexican Americans on board in these pivotal roles. Jesse and Annie have a deep understanding of our community and will be able to help tell this story of great importance for our culture.”

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Life.

Meet Bianca Kea, Founder of ‘Yo Soy Afro Latina’
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so yo afro latina founder Bianca Kea seated on a stoop where a pink shirt that says morenita
By Erica Nahmad, Be Latina

Sometimes the best business ideas don’t necessarily come out of a groundbreaking new product concept but rather out of an authentic desire to fill a void. In the case of Yo Soy Afro Latina, founder Bianca Kea built her brand out of a genuine desire to create a community for Afro Latinas who wanted to be seen and who wanted to belong.

This Latina entrepreneur created a brand that empowers and that brings people together. It’s so much more than a collection of cool products — though the products are undeniably cool. Yo Soy Afro Latina is on a mission to bring awareness and acknowledgment to the often-overlooked Afro Latina community and shed light on Afro Latinas’ beauty everywhere. Now that is a mission we can get behind.

Bianca Kea grew up in a suburb of Detroit that was primarily black and white, with few (if any) Afro Latinas to relate to. Although her single mother did her fair share to pass on her Latinidad to her daughter and educate her about her Mexican roots, Kea still grew up without a true understanding of what it even means to be an Afro Latina.

She felt a disconnect from the Latin community, she explains on the Yo Soy Afro Latina website. She didn’t look like other Latinas or what she thought a Latina should look like. She knew that she identified as a Latina but felt she wasn’t quite Latina enough.

Beyond trying to find other women she could relate to in her surroundings, Bianca also recalls struggling to find role models in pop culture she could identify with. “Celia Cruz was the only Afro-Latina that I saw on mainstream media, so I aspired to be like her. She was just so proud to be this Black Latina,” she told PopSugar. “I wanted to feel that empowered and feel that confident and comfortable in my own skin.”

Her upbringing and longing for an opportunity to truly understand her multifaceted identity led Bianca to create Yo Soy Afro Latina — a move that would not only help her come to terms with her own background but also help Afro Latinas everywhere feel a sense of belonging.

Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.

‘Investing Latina’ Founder Jully-Alma Taveras Reveals the Best Investing Moves She’s Made
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Investing Latina Founder Jully-Alma Taveras pictures in front of a brown backgrop while wearing a black blazer

By Gabrielle Olya, Yahoo! Finance

Jully-Alma Taveras is the founder of Investing Latina, an educational online community with over 40,000 members. She is an award-winning bilingual money expert, writer, YouTuber, speaker and educator who covers topics around personal finance, investing and entrepreneurship.

Recognized by GOBankingRates as one of Money’s Most Influential, here she shares the best investing moves she’s made, why consistency is key when it comes to investing for the long-term and how to get started if you’re new to investing.

Recognized by GOBankingRates as one of Money’s Most Influential, here she shares the best investing moves she’s made, why consistency is key when it comes to investing for the long-term and how to get started if you’re new to investing.

What advice would you give your younger self about investing?
I would tell myself, “Hey, start researching all the companies you already buy from — Amazon, Apple, Nike — and consider investing into them!”

What is the best thing you did to boost your own portfolio?
I moved away from managed funds to index funds. This is helping me save so much money in fees.

When it comes to investing for the long-term, what should people focus on?
I would tell people to focus on how much they are investing and their plan to increase the amount. You can always make adjustments to your assets in your portfolio, but building it up takes time and it takes a plan of action. You have to be consistent.

What is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to investing?
Not getting started sooner. People hold off because they are intimidated or don’t understand it. But the reality is that a two-hour workshop like the one I host is all the time you need to dedicate to education to get started. I make it simple and clear so that people can start learning and earning through compounding interest.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Finance

‘A Sense of Belonging’ for Hispanic Children, with Puppets
LinkedIn
Romina Puga sitting with her two co host puppets on a stool

, What to Watch

Standing outside a home, Romina Puga paints endangered animals, plants a garden, hosts guest experts and talks about the news. She is joined by two friends: Coco, a puppet shaped like a coconut, and Maya, a plush pink puppet.

Maybe most important, Ms. Puga is as likely to speak in Spanish as in English.

Those are scenes from “Club Mundo Kids,” a TV news show debuting April 10 on Televisa and April 11 on Telemundo, aimed at young, first- and second-generation Hispanic children in the United States, where the large Hispanic population is growing, diverse and often underrepresented in television and in movies.

“There is very little content being created that is speaking to U.S. Hispanic, Latinx children and telling their stories,” said Ms. Puga, the show’s 31-year-old host. “The younger generation doesn’t really have anyone breaking things down and talking directly to them in a way that is digestible.”

Latinos make up the largest minority group in the United States, accounting for 18.5 percent of the population, and more than one in four newborns are Latino, according to the Pew Research Center.

But only 4.5 percent of all speaking characters across 1,200 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2018 were Latino, according to a 2019 study by the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Broadcasters have occasionally tried to reach young Hispanic audiences, often with cartoon programming like Nickelodeon’s “Dora the Explorer,” about the adventures of a young animated Latina and her friends. In 2016, the Disney Channel introduced “Elena of Avalor,” an animated series praised for featuring Disney’s first Latina princess. Univision has “Planeta U” a Saturday programming block of animated and educational programs aimed at children ages 2 to 8.

And for decades, “Sesame Street” has featured Rosita, a blue bilingual puppet from Mexico.

“Club Mundo Kids,” in contrast, puts real people in front of the camera, including a host, children and guest experts, and makes a point of talking to children ages 6 and up about Latino life in a real-world context.

“It’s a real opportunity to meet Spanish-speaking kids where they are and to help them build language and reading skills, like ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘Reading Rainbow’ has been doing for decades in English,’’ said Jason Ruiz, an associate professor of American studies at the University of Notre Dame.

He added that the show, possibly alone among programs for children, “will be symbolically important for giving Spanish-dominant kids a sense of belonging by having a show aimed directly at them.”

Hosted by Ms. Puga, a former ABC News correspondent, the series features a mix of live-action and animated segments that explain topics like where food comes from and why there are so many Spanish dialects.

Ms. Puga said the show combines elements of the 1990s children’s programs that she watched growing up Chilean-Argentine in Miami, but with current trends, themes and explanatory segments. In an episode about agriculture, for instance, an animated cornstalk named Miguel Maíz explains how some foods act as fuel for our bodies, and Ms. Puga says the different Spanish words for corn (one being “maíz”).

Click here to read the full article on What to Watch.

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