Women are up and coming in the business world, and many of them had an entrepreneur vision from a very young age. Owning your own business can be difficult with permits, loans, rental space, and not to mention money, but these young Latinas are proving no challenge is too big for them. These young Latinas have transformed their passion and hobbies into business ventures. They are taking their business to the next level while striving in college.
Ashley Rodriguez was 18 years old when she started her business. What began as a hobby quickly turned into a successful boutique. “I love fashion and designer labels, but being on a budget as a college student played a huge part in starting my business,” says Ashley Rodriguez, owner of Encore Exchange. She wanted to launch a consignment store for others who were in her same situation. She takes clothing and accessories brought in by customers and she splits a certain percentage of the sale with the owners once the item has sold. Everything in her boutique comes from local clientele, even her jewelry displayed is handmade. The purpose of her boutique was to take out the middle man. Nothing is ordered, customers are the ones who restock her store. Thanks to her business, she has gained valuable experience in speaking to customers on a daily basis, keeping strict budgets and getting organization.
“I opened up after my first semester at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). After I got my family’s support, we needed to find a place with manageable rent. I didn’t take out any loans and the majority of my financial stability came from financial aid and scholarship money I had earned,” says Ashley. Although Ashley has worked very hard in managing the boutique, she feels strongly supported by her family. “Everyone says it’s my company…but I feel it wouldn’t be mine without their support which is why I always say it’s our store,” says Ashley. Owning your business entitles you to more responsibilities “I can definitely say I’ve matured since I’ve opened my business. I’m not a shy person but this made me feel more comfortable speaking to people and handling any crowd. ” says Ashley.
Julianna Sanchez started her cake business at the age of 19 with her older sister Claudia. They first got their idea when they began making cakes for family events instead of buying them. They not only saved money, but developed their talents and expanded their network of contacts. Soon, family and friends began to make requests for their cakes and recommend their business to others. It’s been over three years and their business has boomed. “We’ve grown a lot. We began making 30 cakes the first year, and now we make about 60 cakes a year,” says Julianna.
“We were tired of buying cakes at the supermarket where they all looked the same just different colors,” says Julianna. Together the Sanchez sisters, Julianna and Claudia, started making cakes in their household kitchen. Although their little cake business emerged from a hobby, they would like to one day expand and open their own place in the downtown area of El Paso, but for now they are building up their clientele. “We don’t do it for the money or fame, we do it because of the people. We are giving something different and we become a part of their special day,” says Julianna. People tend to take photographs of their cakes right before they devour the savory dessert. Their cake business has allowed them to work closely with customers when creating an idea for a cake. From flavor to design Julianna has learned to keep customer satisfaction to expand her business. Both sisters can agree that creativity has been the most important ingredient when keeping a cake business.
Her experience has made her more confident with handling customers and making cakes. “Not everyone can say they have fun while working. It doesn’t feel like working. I’m just doing what I like,” says Julianna. Her business has allowed her to keep focused in her college goals as well as make some extra money on the side. Being a business owner has allowed her to work around her school schedule and keep her goals within reach.
These young Latinas are breaking through many barriers with their businesses. They not only do something that they love but they also remain focused in their college careers. Although it may be difficult at first, family support was the most important ingredient for these young owners.