Five Latina Entrepreneurs Share Their Boldest Career Moves
It is difficult to advocate for oneself at the beginning of a career due to a lack of experience. But more than one Latina has had to overcome imposter syndrome and refocus her compass.
In my case, I will never forget when I sat down with my former manager to inform her I was leaving the company for a higher-paying position. It was a similar position to one she once told me I was unqualified for. And I believed her.
If I’m honest, I was intimidated by her. She was a young, successful woman of color who I thought would be an ally. And while she didn’t assist in the way I wanted her to, her actions drove me to become an outspoken and confident woman.
Having a conversation with her and seeing her finally realizing my worth (even if I had to spell it out for her) was my boldest career move. Thanks to her doubting me, I landed a job at a global company with a substantial salary increase.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we asked five Latina entrepreneurs to reveal their boldest career moments in their own words.
From investment manager to TikTok financial educator
For Giovanna González, quitting her job was not easy: “I was so nervous because I’ve always followed the traditional path,” she told mitu. “I went to college, got a stable job, and paid off my student loans. I’ve never taken big risks.”
However, with the rise of her TikTok account, this Latina entrepreneur knew her voice was needed in our community. So, she took a leap of faith to pursue her true passion — teaching young adults financial literacy and career navigation.
Since Giovanna resigned, she has been a speaker at FinCon 2021. She has been sponsored by Fidelity, TurboTax, and Credit Karma. Giovanna has been selected to participate in inaugural maker incubator programs with TikTok and LinkedIn and has even been featured in The New York times.
“I’ve also replaced my annual corporate salary in only seven months,” she told us. “And the best part is it’s doing what I love.”
“I gave myself permission to move from my ‘zone of excellence’ to my ‘zone of genius,'” she added.
As a financial influencer and educator, Giovanna uses her natural talents to help educate an underserved community.
This Latina entrepreneur has paid off her debt in the past two years and saved 14 months of living expenses.
“Building that financial security for myself empowered me to make this big career leap,” she concluded. “I hope my story encourages any aspiring Latinx to make bold career moves and pursue their passion.”
From registered nurse to creating a children’s fashion label
When she met her husband, Sonia Smith Kang was working in a pediatric intensive care unit. Once their children arrived, Sonia sewed to relieve the stress of work.
“I sewed with intention by using fabrics depicting our rich, multicultural heritage,” she told mitu.
Sonia sewed fabrics into fun, everyday clothes. Then, people started stopping her on the street and asking where she bought her clothes.
“We’d get to talking about the fabric and our cultures when a light bulb went off,” she said. “The clothes were conversation starters and an invitation to share our culture.”
After placing orders and selling at farmers’ markets, Sonia realized she had hit on something. From then on, this Latina entrepreneur would use fashion as a vehicle to talk about culture, diversity, and inclusion.
Thus, her boldest moment was to leave the stability of 15 years as a registered nurse in intensive care to pursue the unpredictable world of creating her own children’s fashion brand, Mixed Up Clothing.
“I took a small business class, emptied my 401K, quit my job, and took a huge leap of faith,” she told us.
Sonia was featured on NBC’s Today Show, Latina magazine, and The Real talk shows in just two years. Now, her clothes will be launched at Macy’s.
From an agency job to a private practice
Becoming a therapist requires many years of hard work and dedication. To practice, requirements include a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and three thousand hours of internship — many of which are free or underpaid therapy.
Mary G. Sanchez got her license in 2019, right after having her second child. Once licensed, she continued to work at her agency job. Unfortunately, many agency employees have heavy caseloads and are understaffed, Mary told us.
“I was burnt out and not doing what I preached,” she said. “So, I decided I wanted a change.”
Mary took a leap of faith to launch her private practice, Monarca Therapy, which focused on maternal mental health and women’s empowerment.
“I created a space to help women transform from their cocoons and evolve into their own monarch butterflies,” Mary told us.
Mary balanced motherhood and her full-time job. This enterprising Latina learned about the business world while developing her private practice on the side.
“I know many therapists who want to open up their own private practice; my advice would be to start small and go from there, one step at a time,” she recommends. “Women are chingonas poderosas that can accomplish anything they put their minds to with the proper support.”
“This is why therapy is so essential.”
A different start-up
As co-founder of Swoon, Cristina Ros Blankfein’s goal is to consistently hire the best in the business. Her four-year-old startup engages creative thinkers and forward-thinking minds.
It’s a team that’s constantly growing, but posting job ads often doesn’t result in the candidate pool they’re looking for.
So, for their most recent hire, Cristina and her team looked at a company they admire and decided to cold contact an employee to see if they could bring her on board.
Fortunately, after an interview process, the candidate joined.
“I think the personal outreach was also an appreciated added touch that helped humanize the process, a piece of hiring that’s often outsourced to automated listings and outreach,” Cristina told us.
“This move was bold to reach out cold, but she’s been an incredible addition to our team. We would not have found her in a job listing.”
“Always go for what you actually want,” this Latina entrepreneur told us. “It will pay off in spades.”
Changing an engineering career to become a full-time personal finance expert
When Jannese Torres-Rodriguez was 25, she was dealing with a quarter-life crisis and had a job she hated. Then, one day in 2014, she walked into work and got laid off. Despite the shock, Jannese realized that maybe this was the break she needed to rediscover her purpose.
Jannese had always been passionate about food and cooking. This Latina entrepreneur toyed with the idea of quitting her job to go to culinary school but wanted to build a career that would allow her to be location independent.
That’s how she met the world of blogging.
“I dove headfirst into learning everything and created my Latin food blog, Delish D’Lites,” she told us.
“From 2014 to 2020, I focused on building my side hustle and job-hopped for higher salaries to have more disposable income.”
Eventually, her food blog started earning several thousand dollars a month, which helped her pay off more than $39,000 in student loans in 17 months. Thus, Jannese achieved financial independence.
“After growing my food blog to over $100,000 in annual income, I made the boldest career move by quitting my job in 2021,” she said.
Here’s what she learned along the way:
- Never choose to start a business just to make money. The reality is that you won’t make anything at first. Instead, choose something that you can see yourself doing long-term.
- Invest in growing your skill sets. Jannese is always listening to podcasts, reading books, and investing in workshops or courses to expand her knowledge.
- Work on your mindset. It took Jannese seven years to grow her business and supercharge her full-time income. Part of that was because she still doubted herself. So this Latina entrepreneur suggests focusing on personal development and working on your mindset.
This story was originally published on March, 2022.