By Cindy Centeno
Photos by Iris Villaseñor/IRIS VILLASENOR PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEO
After a few hours of travel, the LATINA Style team was ready to take on San Francisco, CA for the 115th stop in the LATINA Style Business Series tour’s history. On the morning of Thursday, August 28, 2014, all was calm and peaceful outside the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront hotel, which overlooked the San Francisco Bay. Inside, however, volunteers from the Bay Area strolled in the evening ready to work. As the time got near, all hands were on deck in preparation for the most successful ongoing business development program for Latina business owners in the nation.
After a rewarding networking breakfast, the Business Series began with the traditional welcoming remarks from the President & CEO of LATINA Style, Inc., Robert. E. Bard. After a brief history of the LATINA Style Business Series, which has attracted over 31,000 Latina entrepreneurs and professionals since its launch in 1998, and a welcome to the audience, the Regional Associate Vice President of the Pacific West Regional Operations of Nationwide Insurance, Ramon Jones, gave the title sponsor remarks. Jones highlighted the reasons for Nationwide’s sponsorship with LATINA Style including the commitment “to serving growing and emerging markets, growing communities, and more importantly, Latina businesses that continue to grow entrepreneurship here in the United States.” Soon after, Jenny Grieser, the senior director of Walmart’s Women’s Economic Empowerment, gave the platinum sponsor remarks which then concluded the introduction.
The first workshop of the Business Series was The Essentials of a Successful Business, which focused on the presentation of available sources and ways to build capacity to position a small business to secure capital for expansion. Moderated by the Vice President of the National Hispanic Organization of Real Estate Associates (NHORA), Hilda Ramirez, the panel included Dwight Johnson, owner of Dwight H. Johnson Agency from Nationwide Insurance; Vivienne Antal, Senior Stakeholder Liaison from the IRS; and Hannah Kelley-Bell, Economic Development Specialist from the San Francisco District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration. During the session, Antal urged Latina business owners to maintain records of their income and business’ progress: “If the IRS contacts you…you want to have a good and valid record of your business…then you can walk away.”
The second workshop of the conference titled Healthy Worker – Healthy Business focused on how to stay healthy under the pressure of running a small business and leading your office through today’s health challenges. Waynee Lucero, Program Manager of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce with Covered California and Lorena A. de Anda, a Consultant Specialist with Kaiser Permanente presented their advice on how to maintain a healthy lifeStyle and assured the same for employees.
Afterwards, the How to Bring Your Supplier Diversity to the Next Level panel welcomed Maria Bonilla-Giuriato, president of Bonilla-Giuriato & Associates, as the moderator and Alma Lopez, director of Supplier Diversity for Walmart U.S. as a speaker. This panel focused on the ins and outs of qualifying to become a minority/small business supplier, as well as information on how to secure contracts from Corporate America.
The last panel of the day focused on successful Latina entrepreneurs at different stages of business maturity who discussed the lessons they have learned, the challenges they have encountered, and the ways they have overcome them. Titled Latina Entrepreneurs Spotlight: Lessons Learned, the panelists – who were moderated by Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, founder and CEO of Gracefully Global Group, LLC – included Amelia Morán Ceja, president of Cejas Vineyard; Esperanza Gutierrez-Ortega, principal of Nationwide Insurance; and Nancy Rosales, owner of Neveria Abel 1950, Inc. Rosales advised that if she had to do things differently, she would learn more about finances and make sure that she had the capital to start her business. “I suggest you go back and learn everything about the money and have a savings account and credit account,” she advised.
After the workshops, the audience was invited to attend the LATINA Style Entrepreneur Awards Luncheon. Lucrecia Borchardt, News Weather Anchor for Telemundo, served as the Mistress of Ceremonies for the event. Magdalena De La Cruz Cook-Garcia, president of Maggie’s Salsa LLC, gave one of the most touching and memorable keynote speeches at the luncheon. Maggie was born in Mexico in an orphanage. Her parents cared for over 200 children and through the years, legally adopted 60 children, and had eight biological children of their own. She started Maggie’s Salsa when she entered a salsa contest in West Virginia and won by unanimous vote. “If you have passion, nothing is impossible,” Cook-Garcia asserted the audience, after a tear-jerking speech on her story of overcoming obstacles and living the Hispanic American dream. Furthermore, Nancy Rosales, owner of Neveria Abel 1950, Inc. was awarded the LATINA Style Entrepreneur of the Year Award for San Francisco, CA.
Besides the free goodies from multiple organization’s exhibit booths and delicious sweets from Nationwide’s candy station, all of the attendees left the conference with an abundance of new and useful information in order to help grow their business ventures to the next level!
Special Thanks to Our Sponsors and Partners!
Title Sponsor: Nationwide Insurance. Platinum Sponsor: Walmart. Official Airline Carrier: Southwest Airlines. National Sponsor: Parents Step Ahead (PSA). Lead Media Sponsor: Telemundo 48; Community Partners: Hispanic Chambers of Commerce of San Francisco, Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, Certified Educator, Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation, everyCircle.com, Latino Community Foundation, NSHMBA, Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Greater San Jose Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, San Mateo County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, SBA – San Francisco, LAM Network, National Hispanic Organization of Real Estate Associates, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Alameda County (HCCAC), Women in Public Policy (WIPP); Media Partners: Capital Wire PR.
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