Latinas are the demographic group opening the most businesses and start-ups in the US, and there's a reason — or many — for it. "From a young age, we are given responsibilities and raised by women who hold strong expectations of us," said Tondreanna Esquilin, model, social media strategist, and event planner. "I think this gives Latinas the persistence and strength to pursue an entrepreneurial path." For entrepreneur, fitness trainer, and content creator Samantha Ortiz-Young, coming from a Latinx family played a crucial role in her attitude toward career and business. "Having my parents model the essence of hard work and goal manifestation made me gain confidence in my abilities [to] begin hustling and pursuing my dreams," she said. For Afro Latina beauty influencer Farah Pink, it's a matter of inherited perseverance and representation. "As time goes on, we see more examples of what's possible for us and have gained more access to what's needed to make it happen."
Seeing others making it big in all business fields, like the Latina designers and beauty founders at Macy's, is essential for younger generations' belief that they can get anywhere they dream of. So to help Latinas connect with their inner jefa mentality for good, we asked these three entrepreneurs and influencers for their best tips and lessons to change your mindset from "no puedo" to "I did it!"
For Samantha Ortiz-Young, the old pen-to-paper routine worked magic when it came to setting goals. "Write out the ideas and put dates on those tasks, so you have reminders and alerts to help you stay accountable in building your business," the fitness trainer recommended.
Also, breaking the plan into smaller tasks can help you get to the bigger goal with less fear (and even without overthinking about it). "Creating small action items and completing them one by one really gives you momentum to keep going," said Farah Pink.
If you already have an idea for your new business or project but don't know where to start, Tondreanna Esquilin recommended looking at the competition in that field. First of all, identify who they are, and then ask yourself questions like "what are they doing well and what are they not doing well? How could your business be better?" Then, establish a target audience, poll around, and do some research to find out if the people you want to target are or would be interested in what you want to offer. "An idea starts with you; a business starts with others," she said.
For many women, one of the most challenging parts of starting a business or becoming an entrepreneur can be imposter syndrome: the unshakable feeling of self-doubt and unworthiness. Like, no matter what you do, it isn't good enough. For Esquilin, it's a matter of continuing to do what you're doing: even when self-doubt strikes. "You have to look past this and realize that if people are showing an interest or if there is a market for what you want to do, there is a possibility for success," she said. "Keep pushing forward."
Do you remember your first job? Or the one you hated the most? Take a second to reflect on that experience and what you learned from it. Using this little exercise to think of how far you've made it considering where you are now will get you feeling pumped. "I worked at a clothing store when I was 16, and it made me fall in love with putting outfits together, which is something I'm clearly still very passionate about," said Farah Pink.
Even if your first entrepreneurial venture was an helado stand in your childhood, as it was for Samantha Ortiz-Young, there's always something to take from it. "This taught me to be responsible, be resilient, learn how to network, and be grateful for my parents and sister for supporting me in this awesome experience," she said.
From giving you a sense of you what you do and don't like to opening up new possible career paths you never thought of, or teaching you values that you can apply in any field, each experience is a step up on the way to your jefa days. "The one job that definitely contributed to my strong work ethic was my work as a food service worker in a hospital when I was in high school," said Esquilin. "During the school year, I would go from school to volleyball practice, straight to work. And in the summer, I would work at least five days a week and often worked 12- to 14-hour shifts. Serving those who are sick and in need teaches you a different level of empathy."
No matter the business, almost every successful Latina in any field names their mami, tia, or abuela as their main inspiration: in life and in their career, too. Let's just say, they always know. "The ultimate jefa in my life is my mother, Aileen," said trainer Samantha Ortiz-Young. "She has always encouraged me to have a strong sense of self-worth and to believe in the power of dreams and manifestation."
The Latina-owned businesses at Macy's are great examples of las jefas living their truth. In 2011, the company launched their Workshop at Macy’s with the goal of helping a diverse group of entrepreneurs become partners with Macy’s Inc. and other retailers, thereby helping foster growth in the next generation of diverse merchandise suppliers: especially within the Latinx community. In addition to their own vendor development program, Macy's Inc. has partnered with several Latino and Hispanic focused organizations, such as the Hispanic Federation, to fund programming that provides digital skill training and classroom instruction.
This Hispanic Heritage Month, shop the collections of previous Workshop at Macy’s graduates and other Latina-owned brands available at Macy’s that have made an impact on their community, to empower your inner jefa.