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Home / Community / Latinas find empowerment through business ownership in LA County

Latinas find empowerment through business ownership in LA County

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The Los Angeles community would not be the same without Latina small business owners because they are an essential part of the community.

Latina-owned small businesses have been increasing over the years in the Los Angeles community, according to a study by American Express. Many of these businesses have become staples in the community, even some of the newer establishments. 

Frank Aguirre, business administration department chair of East Los Angeles College, said many Latinas decide to start their own businesses to fill a need. Many times, Latinas and many other business owners will see an opportunity to fill a need for themselves or for others. 

Many business owners will then start their own business to fulfill a need for a good or service. It is often not for profit, but just for Latinas to do something they love. 

“It also just helps the overall business economy because it brings in some competition,” Aguirre said. “It brings in service providers, which to the benefit, I guess of everybody, they bring products and services at a lower rate and at a reasonable affordable rate.”

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, for every $100 that is spent at a small business, $48 is recirculated back into the local economy. This is compared to big businesses where only $14 is recirculated back into the local economy for every $100 spent. The money spent at a small business ends up supporting the community as well. 

Aguirre said that the fact that many Latina business owners are willing to take such big risks is the reason they’re so important to the Los Angeles community. Not only do Latina-owned businesses help the community by bringing in competition and contributing to the local economy, but they also have the power to create an empowering community.

Genesy Mendez, owner of Golden Bear Creative, said she believes that having Latina-owned businesses in the Los Angeles community creates empowerment for Latinas. 

Mendez resides in Los Angeles and is pursuing her master’s degree in education. Starting Golden Bear Creations was a way for Mendez to pay for her graduate program. She is currently in the bilingual program at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Mendez said that Latina-owned businesses create a community where people can speak freely, empower one another, take ownership of the craft they love, and be able to network with one another.

“It’s all one. It’s all a very cohesive way of getting to know who we are as women,” Mendez said. “And knowing that we are capable of running our own businesses.”

Mendez isn’t the only one who sees the importance of empowering one another. Adrienne Yip, owner of Sun in Leo, said that the importance of being a Latina business owner is to gain your power back.

“I see a lot of Latina women supporting each other and you don’t get that often,” Yip said. “Just to see all of these Latina women unite, support each other, and just see how they uplift each other with affirmations or not even knowing each other, just strangers coming together and saying you’re beautiful, you’re amazing.”

Yip mainly sells candles but does offer some chakra-related products. She first got started because her 10-year-old daughter has a love for crystals. 

Adrienne Yip working her booth in east LA | Photo courtesy of Rebekah Ludman

For Yip, Latina-owned businesses are essential in the Los Angeles community because many Latinas represent mothers. Yip likes to set intentions and affirmations with her candles.

“I feel like for the Latina woman, we represent the mothers. And it goes back to ancestry,” Yip said. “I feel like that’s of great importance because even though you know, some women aren’t mothers, their aunts, their sisters, or their grandmothers, it’s just having a lot of that womb connection.”

Feeling this connection is especially important with pop-up events. The type of connection that Yip talks about is felt at these events. The connection created also ties in with creating an empowering environment for Latina small business owners.

Creating an empowering environment and community can have numerous positive impacts in communities. In Los Angeles, community members have started to put on more events for the general public. Many of these events are free and provide an experience for the people who go. It also gives many small businesses opportunities to do pop-up shops.

Since Yip already had a love for candles, she combined her daughter’s love for crystals and her love for candles to create Sun in Leo. Her daughter also helped her with Sun in Leo, even with pop-up events.

These pop-up events typically have music playing, games, and of course the opportunity to shop from local vendors. It’s essentially a place you go to for a variety of products and to create memories with family or friends. These events highlight the importance of small business owners. 

One event, the Goddess Mercado based in East Los Angeles once a month, is specifically designed for Latina-owned businesses. This means that every vendor, or business owner, at this event is a Latina.

According to a Buying Local study conducted by Intuit Mint Life, 57% of people shopping at small businesses decide to support small businesses because they want to keep their money local. The same study also revealed that 38% of people shop at small businesses because they want to feel connected with their community.

Events just like the Goddess Mercado help people feel connected with their community and create a time for consumers to shop small. These events can help a community, just like Los Angeles, stay connected and be able to buy products knowing your money will be going back into the community. 

Amanda Fischback, a digital marketing consultant, said she believes that people should support Latina-owned businesses because of the challenges they face. Many Latina-owned businesses struggle to open up their doors, especially with the pandemic. By supporting these businesses, you contribute to your local economy and help a business keep their doors open. 

“To survive and thrive even under those challenges is a huge success that should be celebrated,” Fischback said. “And the way people can celebrate that is by supporting their local businesses that are Latino-owned and operated.”

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