latina-jefas
Photos: Instagram/@brownbadassbonita @allthingsada @jenzeanodesigns
Culture

18 Latina Jefas Break Down the Key to Overcoming Obstacles

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day we reached out to some of the poderosas in our community to celebrate their successes and the women who have inspired them. These Latinas work in various industries including publishing, beauty, and apparel but they can all agree that part of their story of success is the women who have inspired them along the way. For women like writer Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez and Brown Badass Bonita founder Kim Guerra, it was their mami and/or abuelita and for others like Ada Rojas of Botánika Beauty, it’s icons Selena and Celia Cruz. Read on to discover what these jefas consider their greatest achievement, the obstacles they’ve had to overcome, and how they’re revolutionizing the industries they’re in.

Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez, Nicaraguan Storyteller

Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez is a writer currently working on her first book set to be released in 2021. She founded Latina Rebels in 2013 which, like her writing, focuses on uplifting and empowering women and Latinidad and challenging machismo in Latinx culture. One of her most well-known works is “Dear Woke Brown Girl” featured on the Huffington Post.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
I have learned a lot through Gloria Anzaldúa and Sandra Cisneros as an adult. Growing up though, mi abuelita was my role model and mi mami also inspires me. Mostly I do like to credit Zahira @bad_dominicana for being a great example of uncompromising badassery. I “found” her twitter account in 2013, and it changed everything for me.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
I think getting invited to the White House was big, but also having Telemundo come to my house to interview me was big because mi mami saw me differently. My work can be hard to translate but on that day it was not.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
I really admire people who don’t f*ck around and the founder of Xicanisma Cassandra is that for me. She is someone for me who I know her work isn’t being filtered through “get more followers,” lens rather it is important and therefore it must be said. She is smart as fuck and she is not here to be famous or to gain anything from anyone, it is clear that this is about a collective liberation at all costs. That is powerful.

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
It’s lonely because I fell into this line of work, and I feel like I never know what I am doing even when I do. Imposter Syndrome is real and do not let anyone make you feel like those doubts are not valid, but also it’s important. If my visibility provided someone with a different framework for existing then I must be doing something right.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
Major obstacles are money. I do not come from money and the ability to do this work does demand that you have some financial safety net, side hustle, or both. I think making your dreams come true in this country as an immigrant is hard and even harder when you’re an immigrant with a working-class background. This idea that I can work hard enough to get myself out of debt and into another class is unreliable and unrealistic. Thankfully people have booked me to speak at universities and that has given me a lot of financial freedom, but I do worry all the time about the consistency in that work.

What are some ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
Focusing on our liberation keeps me and Latina Rebels from selling out, and potentially causing more harm. And quite frankly, that is innovating in a capitalist society where monetizing platforms is the name of the game.

Kim Guerra, Founder of Brown Badass Bonita

Kim Guerra’s empowering tees with phrases like “Warrios Womxn” and “Berrinchudas Pero Bien Chula” have gone viral making Brown Badass Bonita one of the most beloved and successful Latina-owned brands. Guerra has also written two books, Mariposa and Mija, with the same intention as her line — to empower Latinas.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
I am inspired by all the mujeres in my life, especially the ones that came before me and fought battles so that women like me could fly. I am inspired by mujeres who didn’t give up even though they had to cross borders, overcome obstacles, start over, and still hold their head high. I think of my first grade teacher who persevered and is now a doctor and principal. I think of mi Tita (mi grandma) who learned to love herself at age 60. I think of my mom who raised 4 kids essentially on her own. I think of guerreras and mujeres poderosas like Sonia Sotomayor, Frida, Julia de Burgos, Selena, Rigoberta Menchu, Chavela Vargas, and Yalitza Aparicio.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
Writing books that impacted my community and going on a book tour on my own to hold space and share stories with Brown Badass Bonitas across the US. I’m also finishing up my masters in Marriage and Family Therapy and that’s something I’m proud of.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
I love and admire all the mujeres in my industry because they are all shining and making queen moves for themselves and our communities! I love the creators and artists such as @gatasalvaje, @artkidshirley, @Emilia Cruz, the queens of Cumbiaton (Sizzle, Norma, Funky Caramelo), Kay Lopez (Latinas Poderosas), @lavida.dacolores (her amazing photography and colorful earrings), Davina (@alegriamagazine), Ana Flowers (@weallgrowlatina), Adri (@latinxtherapy), Yarel Ramos, @nalgonapositivitypride , Jasmine Uribe (@breakthecycle), and soooo many more!

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
Being a Latina woman in my industry reminds me of how necessary it is for me to be here. It is important I take up space instead of shrinking. It is important for me to use my voice and bring up issues that are important to me and my community. It is important for me to reclaim my power and hold my head high. As a Latina stepping into any industry, we can and will rise.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
There’s a lot of healing that’s needed to happen first. There’s a lot I had to unlearn. There were many moments in which I had to remind myself I belong here and I am walking in my purpose. There were many moments in which I had to actively choose to rise up instead of giving up. Obstacles not many talk about, are the internal obstacles: trauma, self-doubt, mental health challenges, and negative messages passed down through inter-generational cycles. External obstacles include systemic oppression, machismo, sexism, racism, and having to teach things to yourself because no one has been down this path.

What are some ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
I want to see more women loving themselves unapologetically and helping each other out instead of viewing themselves as competition. QUEENDOM COME: mujeres treating themselves and one another like the queens that they are. I think this could change the industry and the world. I want mujeres operating out of self-love and abundance. Reinas healing and thriving and teaching each other to fly and dream higher.

Jessica Resendiz, Designer and Founder of RaggedyTiff

Jessica Resendiz was born in Queretaro, Mexico in 1987 and in 2010 she founded RaggedyTiff, an apparel and home decor line described on their website as “eclectic folk-cultural.” She grew up in San Diego and went on to attend the renowned Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise in Los Angeles, where she now resides. She’s known for her vivid and vibrant designs, which were featured during the 2019 We All Grow Latina conference.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
Through my whole life, mi abuelita has been one of my biggest inspirations and even though shes gone, she still remains in my heart

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
Investing and saving my own money/profit to build my own HQ which features an atelier (sewing station). Something that I never knew was possible.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
Some of the mujeres that are a huge impact in our community are the following:
Liz Hernandez from @wordaful, Ana Flores @weallgrowlatina, Lala and Nat from @belladona, Patty Delgado from @hijadetumadre, Linda Garcia @Luz Warrior, Raquel Gomez @vivalabonita, and Jennifer Gonzalez — Film Director,just to name a few. These mujeres represent the American dream. Their hustle and passion show within.

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
Powerful and one of a kind! We’re just Latinas changing the world and making a difference.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
Learning from my challenges and failures. Also becoming a mother at 19 years old taught me to become the person I am now.

What are some ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
To lead and to give, especially to our community and the younger generation. and to providing workshops for after-school children.

Ada Rojas, Founder of Botánika Beauty

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A few weeks ago we got to host the most incredible group of women in Los Angeles for an intimate brunch to chat all things @botanika_beauty. Our incredible PR agency @thebonitaproject did a phenomenal job at finding the cutest little restaurant that was so on brand it was literally called Botanica. 🙌🏾 . In the first pic you see me doing my infamous deep conditioner pitch 🤣 if you’ve used our deep conditioner you know it’s hella thick (just like me) so I like to flip the jar upside down to show people how creamy, buttery and thickity thick it is. If you haven’t tried our deep conditioner baybeeee what is you doing? It’s SO BOMB 💣 comment below if you agree! . Thank you ladies for joining us on this magical day. Means the world that you all took time out of your day to spend it with me and @aisharc. I love nothing more than connecting with intention and purpose over something that I’m extremely passionate about. Your presence was a present for real. THANK YOU! ❤️ . 📸 @melissamontoyaphotography

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Dominican-American entrepreneur and blogger Ada Rojas launched Botánika Beauty last year, which is made with all-natural ingredients inspired by the local Bronx botánicas. Early on in her career, she started her own YouTube channel and blog (All Things Ada) focusing on beauty and establishing herself as an expert in natural curly hair care products. Now the full line — made with herbs including sage and bay leaf — is available in Target stores.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
Some Latinas that have inspired me over the years are Celia Cruz for her fearlessness, determination and Afro-Latina pride and Selena Quintanilla for her humble demeanor and passion for the Latinx community.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
My greatest professional achievement so far is launching my natural haircare line Botánika Beauty. It had always been a dream of mine to create accessible, affordable and quality products that celebrated my Afro-Latina roots and the beauty of nuestra cultura and I think I’ve been able to do just that.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
I’m lucky enough to work and learn from someone I deeply admire in my industry and that is my business partner Aisha Ceballos-Crump. She is the founder of Honey Baby Naturals and helped me launch my brand Botánika Beauty. Someone else I admire is serial entrepreneur, Marcia Kilgore. She has founded several companies in the beauty and fashion industry and when I think of where I want to be in the next 20 years I hope it’s in a similar trajectory to Marcia. She truly is entrepreneur goals!

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
It’s hella inspiring and powerful. I feel extremely lucky to be part of this industry during such empowering times for female entrepreneurs. My culture and community are at the center of everything I do, so when I walk into any room or meeting I know that I come as one but I stand as 10,000. I truly am my ancestors’ wildest dreams!

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
I’ve overcome so many obstacles to get to where I am currently at. From putting myself through college while juggling a full-time job and multiple internships to almost getting evicted from my Bronx apartment because entrepreneurship can have so many highs and lows. I can list so many other things but I never look at them as obstacles. I view them as experiences that have molded me into the strong and tenacious woman I am today and for that I am grateful.

What are ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
I’m determined to change the face of beauty while representing for my community. For years I never truly felt seen as a consumer when I would shop the natural hair care aisle even though I’ve been natural my entire life. There was truly nothing that connected with me as a proud Afro-Latina woman. Botánika is so much more than a great natural hair care line to me, it’s the opportunity to celebrate my roots while uplifting and connecting my community. The term Afro-Latina may be new but we’ve been here and we ain’t going anywhere. I’m just thrilled to be doing my part to see us represented in the beauty industry.

Rachel Gomez, Founder of Viva La Bonita

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My life has rapidly changed and it keeps on changing. This is the life I prayed and worked hard for. However, I didn’t know it was going to change and bring me a baby at the same time. 😂 I’m so thankful to know some of the most amazing moms who are in this “Mompreneur” world. They have shown me that it’s okay to be imperfect. That it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and lost. Because at the end of it all, businesses and brands aside, we’re MOTHERS. And that’s pretty dam powerful. One of the most amazing moms I’ve been able to connect with and be in the same room with is @zoiladarton. To know her is to love her. Thank you for the beautiful article you featured me on for @word.agency. You’re a DIOSA in real life. The link is in my bio if you wanna read it. 💋✨ P.S thanks for making me look cool in this photo. 😂 #Mom

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Rachel Gomez founded Latina apparel line Viva La Bonita about six years ago as one of the original Latina empowerment brands of late. With an Instagram following of more than 235K, there’s no denying the appeal of her tees with some of the more popular phrases being “Allergic to Pendejadas” and “Being a Chingona is Exhausting.”

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
To be honest, my main inspiration for everything I do is my grandmother. She is the hardest working, most respectful, badass woman, I know. Life has been hard for her but I never saw that woman fold. She has the most resilient spirit I know and I hope to continue growing into the woman she is.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
My greatest professional achievement so far is being able to live my life on my own terms and bring my family along with me all while simultaneously doing what I love to do every day. I get to empower mujeres through fashion and digital content. I created and built my dream job.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
Melody Ehsani is such an inspiration to me. She has broken down so many walls within the streetwear and sneaker community they once said a woman could never do. She really is one of the many who have written the blueprint for women in streetwear. She is an activist through fashion, an amazing storyteller, graceful, badass, bossy, and so grounded.

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
I think it’s an honorable feeling to be Latina in my industry. I’m breaking ground in such a male-dominated place and it feels good. I have always been someone who stays focused on what I want, I organize, and I am not afraid to stand in my power. And to witness firsthand more and more women breaking ground in my industry, lights a fire inside of me. The world is changing and it feels good to make lanes for the next generation of young women.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
One of the biggest obstacles I’ve had to overcome is people believing in the power of Latina brands, especially a concept like Viva La Bonita. When I first started VLB Latinas were only seen as telenovela characters or cholas. Anything else was not really “interesting” so I had to really believe in myself first and believe in VLB if I was going to make it work. Six years later here we are, thriving and influencing a powerful Latina community. We have a brand that makes cool clothes that encourage self-care, self-awareness, and self-empowerment.

Mabel and Shaira Frias, Founders of Luna Magic Beauty

luna-magic-brand
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Dominican sisters Mabel and Shaira Frias launched Luna Magic last year after seeing the lack of representation in the makeup industry for women of color. Their highly-pigmented eyeshadow palette and eyelashes made their way into the hands of Cardi B’s makeup artist who used it for her BeautyCon look. Now the palette is available in Walmart stores and they’re launching 100 percent vegan lashes.

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
Shaira
: As young Latina entrepreneurs we feel that we are advocates for our multicultural customer base. We grew up in a similar environment, we shop where she shops and we think how she thinks. So that experience makes us stand with confidence and have an authentic voice when we have important meetings in the beauty industry. Our business colleagues quickly realize that we are strong, bold Latinas that did not come to play and that despite how young we are, we mean business.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
Shaira
: The Latinas that have inspired us throughout our journey have always been the women in our family. We come from a very strong and independent female lineage in our family tree. We saw how our grandmother, mom and tias all raised their children as single mothers. We saw them struggle and survive hardships just to give their children an education and the life that they never had.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
Mabel & Shaira: We are proud to be the first cosmetics brand founded by Dominican-Americans. We take pride in our upbringing, influences and for us, it’s an honor to represent our Latinidad for our customers but as well as in boardrooms and business rooms as we educate our partners on the value and power we have as a community and as customers.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
Mabel: Rihanna with Fenty Beauty since she changed the game and innovated the conversation around beauty, inclusivity, and diversity.
Shaira: Iman with Iman Cosmetics since her makeup brand was the first brand we can remember that truly provided products for women of color.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
Shaira: Time. When you’re building a business there are so many needs and you wish there was more time to execute it all. Everyone has the same time in a day, so for us, it’s been a learning experience to know how to prioritize, plan, and be patient with the process of growing a company.

What are ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
Mabel: Enhancing the industry for us means creating an authentic community so that our customers and engage with our brand and feel heard and valued. For us, makeup and beauty are such a personal experience and we want to make sure that we are not only providing the products our customers want but also provide a space and community where we can all come together to learn, inspire and educate one another.

Joanna Rosario-Rocha and Leslie Valdivia, Founders of Vive Cosmetics

First-generation Latinas Joanna and Leslie saw a void in the makeup industry when it came to Latinx representation and despite having no connection in beauty they established  Vive Cosmetics. Their long-lasting lip gloss and lipstick have made them a favorite in the Latina community with fans including Gloria Calderón Kellett. The vegan and cruelty-free line has product names like “Piel Morena” and “Pan Dulce,” making it not only a brand that physically appeals to the Latinx community but one the ensures it’s always represented.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
Leslie: My mother inspires me a lot. Beyond that, there are so many Latinas doing amazing things — it’s difficult to pick a few.
Joanna: My mother inspires me in everything I do. She went through so much to allow me to have the privilege of being raised in this country and I will forever be grateful for her and her strength.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
Leslie: I think one of the coolest things that have happened is seeing one of our products in a print magazine. It was a moment where my mom could see my efforts in a concrete way. Also one of the most memorable moments is when we held a pop up in Chicago, literally thousands of miles from our home in California, and the community SHOWED UP. We were greeted by the community there with SO much love and support. It was an incredible night meeting so many people there who follow and support our brand.

Joanna: My most favorite moments since starting this brand has been when we get customers who email us, DM us and let us know that they have never felt like any lipstick fit their skin tone. Having women all over the country tell us they feel represented like they never have before is really why we started and it is what keeps us going when things get tough.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
Leslie: There are so many amazing black-owned beauty brands from founders with similar stories like ours. Melissa Bulter from Lip Bar is so smart and kind and Cashmere from Beauty Bakerie is also another founder I admire, also my friend Patty Delgado from Hija de tu Madre.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
Both: One of the first obstacles we faced was access funding to start Vive. We found local business resources to apply to a government-funded loan that helped us pay for initial start-up costs. You don’t have to come from rich parents or have connections with investors to make it happen, but you do have to be serious about what you are doing, do the research and create a solid business plan.

What are the ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
Both: Changing the industry is truly the main reason why we started this brand. We didn’t see our community genuinely embraced as the powerful consumers that we are, especially in the beauty industry, or be truly represented through the diversity that exists in the Latinx experience. One of the many ways we try to create a different narrative of our community is through the people we use as models for our campaigns. We choose models that we believe someone in our community can relate to and see themselves in our brand. We want to create an emotional connection with our customers through our campaigns, products, launches and community sponsorships to show that we really care for the community and uplifting our stories and beauty.

Jennifer Serrano, Founder of Jen Zeano Designs

Jen Zeano (Serrano) is the woman behind Jen Zeano Designs, home of the famous “Latina Power” tee that made waves all over social media and was worn by celebs including Cristela Alonzo and Gina Rodriguez. Zeano and her wife, Veronica, work together to design empowering apparel with phrases like “Latina Magic” and “Poderosa.”  The Mexico-born designer started working out of her parent’s home in Texas and it was after the 2016 election and as a way of uplifting the Latinx community, she created the “Latina Power” tee that catapulted her business to become one of the most beloved and Instagrammable Latinx brands.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
So many to name, but by far my biggest inspiration is my mom. She is the most hard-working and dedicated person I know. She is tough but kind. Never afraid of a challenge and most importantly she always stands up for what she believes in.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
One is creating a business that fosters community and two is creating a business that brings me a sense of fulfillment and happiness. Before I started JZD I was at a job that made me unhappy 99 percent of the time so running a business that makes me feel happy and fulfilled is by far one of my biggest achievements.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
Kristine, the founder of GRL Collective. She leads a purpose-driven business and I am constantly inspired by her generosity and hustle. Ninah from Ninah.co her creativity is out of this world! Anais from Anais Alesya Photography her grit and determination inspire me every day. She is an advocate for what she believes and is constantly giving back to her community. Juliana from OKC Latina. She is a powerhouse constantly creating spaces for Latina women.

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
Sometimes you are put in rooms full of Latinas and it is literally magical and you can feel the positive energy.
Other times you are put in rooms where you are the only Latina and then it’s a big sense of responsibility as you try to have your voice heard and taken seriously.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
I think the biggest and most annoying obstacle is always being looked at as a “cute hobby.” It has taken time to get people to take us and our business seriously.

What are ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
Our biggest goal is to constantly create products with Latina women in mind. We want to create products that close the representation gap and make you feel seen.

Denise Vallejo, Chef and founder of Alchemy Organica

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Hi, you’re gonna have to get used to seeing my face a lot more, so I thought I’d take some time to introduce myself. My name is Denise. I’m a self taught vegan chef with deep affinity for ancient wisdom & mysticism. I’ve been a student of the mystery schools for most of my life and have studied & practiced many forms of the occult arts including Astrology, Tarot, Alchemy, Curanderismo, Shamanism, & Ceremonial Magick. I created Alchemy Organica as a platform to integrate my occultist background with my love of cooking in a way that felt as authentic as possible. Through this platform I get to spread awareness of different healing modalities that I access through my occult workings, like Astrology. Astrology has helped me see the world through a different lens. I find myself being much more patient and understanding when dealing with different personality types, & Astrology has helped me understand myself better. It’s such a useful tool for evolution & self realization. The other big topic you’ll hear us talk about is Decolonizing & Revitalizing ancestral food ways and traditions. Even if your heritage is not Native, there is much to be appreciated about the ancestral ways of Abya Yala, and we can discuss how to tap into your own ancestral roots, which I think can be a lot more potent than accessing healing from cultures outside your own (and it’s less problematic that way!) Ultimately, Alchemy Organica is about healing. Healing takes courage. Courage to break toxic generational cycles & habits, and re-learning & re-membering the old ways that were rooted in harmony with land & spirit. I think we can apply this wisdom to our modern, daily lives and feel much more balanced. 💖👁✨ – – – #alchemyorganica #pureplantvision #ancestralplantmagick #occultism #vegan #mysticism #ceremonialmagick #bruja #curanderismo #plantwisdom #magick #hermeticism #occultsofig #culinaryarts #astrogastro #astrology #shamanism #entheogens #visionaryplants #visionaryplantfood

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Chef Denise Vallejo is the founder of pop-up Alchemy Organica centered around vegan Mexican cuisine. She is a first-generation indigenous Xicana who works out of Los Angeles incorporating indigenous recipes and ancestral mystic wisdom hosting pop-up dinners based on astrology.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
Obviously my mother, for being head-strong & resilient. She is the sweetest womxn I know and despite everything she’s experienced in life, the kindness in her heart continues to shine. She is a queen. My late tía Carmen who introduced me to fine foods, quality ingredients, and taking pleasure in creating fine foods. Self-made womxn are a big inspiration to me as well. Kat Von D inspires me with her artistry & how she’s created so many successful businesses from such humble beginnings. L.A. graffiti artist Sand One is another badass who just gets up every day to make things happen for herself. She declares the value of her work and doesn’t second guess it.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
It’s been really fun and challenging to apply occult knowledge to my astro-gastronomy zodiac-themed dinners. Being able to merge my occultist background, openly, with food is like a dream come true. The response has been overwhelming and I’m amazed at how open people are to experiencing something that would be considered taboo in some circles, or dismissed as “woo-woo” or “new age-y nonsense”. Astrology systems have existed since time immemorial and my ancestors have been mapping the skies just as long. There are so many practical ways of applying this knowledge and food is one of them.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
My best friend Genise Nichole (owner of LA’s first vegan taco business, Plant Food For People). She blazed the trail for so many vegan food businesses that follow similar business models. She inspired me to go out there and just start selling my food on the street. Jocelyn of Todo Verde is another badass womxn in the food industry. I really admire her business model, her marketing & branding style, and how hard she works in creating food equity. I want my platform to impact our communities of color in a big way and she’s out there doing it. As a bruja and mystic, I love Loba Loca for their radical approach to life. Helping to break down the patriarchal systems, decolonizing medicine, and showing us ways to live more balanced and in harmony despite how hard it can be existing as brown and non-male.

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
As an indigenous womxn I already feel like my voice is silenced anywhere I go. In this male-dominated culinary industry I’ve had to stand firm to get the respect I deserve for my skills.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
I’ve dealt with sexism in the kitchen for sure. I’ve been exploited for my knowledge and recipes, then made to feel bad and not a “team player” because I stood my ground when I knew my recipes were generating wealth for restaurants that weren’t willing to pay me my worth. In the pop-up vendor world, there are so many haters and even other vendors that feel threatened by your presence when you’re not even the competition. Now I love having haters, let’s me know I’m going in the right direction. I forgot who told me this, but in video games, if you keep meeting the bad guys, it means you’re going in the right direction.

What are ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
I think people spend a lot of time trying to focus on new ways of doing things when the old ways and ancestral ways are sometimes the most innovative. Reconnecting with spirit and the natural world is considered innovative now, but it’s the default operating system of my ancestors. I want to continue weaving that ancestral magick into everything I do, both literally and figuratively.

Janel Martinez, Founder of Ain’t I Latina?

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Storytelling is a powerful tool. As Afro-Diasporic folk, it's carried our history, our ancestral knowledge, our healing, our various truths and essence. Media can either uplift or erase, and for far too long the agenda has been the latter as it pertains to multilayered Black stories. Even more so for Black queer stories. I'm eternally grateful for the work of Black Diasporic queer leaders like Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, Marielle Franco, and James Baldwin, to name a few. So when the opportunity presented itself to work on Neon, an ongoing digital content series that aims to increase the visiblitiy of Black LGBTQ people and their allies, it was a no brainer. Hosted on @glaad 's platform, Neon's photo series and video interviews will ground our stories in the past, highlight the present, and affirm our future. I hope you'll sit with the stories shared. Much love to @majornmotion for sharing your vision with me and bringing me along for the ride, @akcorlette and @dashawnusher for the the tireless work getting this to the finish line, and @fortifiedlive and @laquanndawson for your creative brilliance throughout it all. [I'll be sharing more in my IG Stories and highlight.] #NEONxGLADD

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Entrepreneur and multimedia journalist Janel Martinez is one of the most prominent voices in the Afro-Latina community. The Bronx native launched the online platform Ain’t I Latina? in 2013 and created a community among the Afro-diasporic folk who historically haven’t been represented in the media. The Honduran-American with Garifuna ancestry also uplifts the Central American Afro-Latina narrative which receives even less attention than Afro-Latinidad, as it’s commonly associated with Spanish-speaking Caribbean culture.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
Naturally, I’ll start with my mother and grandmother, as well as my tías. They’ve shown me what it means to love unconditionally and nurture your family but also not forgetting who you are and to live your truth. I’m also inspired by conscious leaders like Denise Oliver Velez (who isn’t Latina) and Iris Morales of The Young Lords; Dr. Marta Moreno Vega and Yvette Modestin; as well as Miriam Miranda of Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras; authors like Veronica Chambers, Elizabeth Acevedo, Maritza, and Maika Moulite; entertainers like Kelis, Celia Cruz, and Gina Torres. So many of my peers are inspiring. I’m inspired daily by my best friend Francis Carrero, who is like the living embodiment of kindness/love, hard work/commitment, fun, and fire — a true Sag.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
I would say launching Ain’t I Latina? in 2013 marked a pivotal moment in my career as it catapulted me into actively living out my purpose.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
Elayne Fluker — An amazing journalist and entrepreneur who lifts as she climbs. She’s been an advocate for me throughout my career. When I was just an intern, there were conversations we had that encouraged me to go for opportunities I hadn’t even considered. She helped put me in positions to win. I’ll never forget it. Mimi Valdes — I love magazines. Growing up, you could always find one not far from me. I thought music journalism was going to be my thing and studied the career of women like Mimi, who was the editor-in-chief of Vibe. As a multimedia executive with two decades of experience, with a sharp knack for storytelling, I stan. Melina Matsoukas — Her keen eye has taken imagery in music videos and films to the next level. I’m still mesmerized by the visuals in Queen & Slim. I admire her talent and hustle, but wouldn’t expect anything else from a fellow Bronx gal. Issa Rae — as someone who also began creating content in the digital realm, I admire her ability to go from creating her own web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, to starring in her own HBO series, Insecure.

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
I mainly center women in my writing, so it’s absolutely beautiful. Early in my career, though, I dealt with ageism and sexism and, in certain spaces, racism. However, I quickly learned how to position myself, become my best advocate, and tune out the noise that had no bearing on who I am or how I work. I’m thankful I had peers and a mentor to provide insight or just words of encouragement when needed.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
I was surprised to deal with ageism so early in my career. I started working in media at 20/21 and as a go-getter, I think older colleagues were impressed but also shaken by where I wanted to take my career. Though I had way more rooting for me, I did have one or two that would try to box me in due to my age and where they felt like I should be. I dealt with this by zeroing in on my goal and reminding myself of my worth and that I belonged in the spaces that I was in.

What are ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
I’ve spent years working on amplifying the narratives of Afro-Latinx women. I intend to continue doing so through the written and video content produced via Ain’t I Latina? as well as in-person events. Also, through the articles and content, I create for other media outlets.

Julissa Prado, Founder of Rizos Curls

Julissa Prado grew up with curly hair and when she fully embraced her ringlets is when she developed the unique concoction that would become the all-natural hair care line Rizos Curls. The LA-based family-run operation recently launched in Target stores solidifying her place as one of the top Latina-owned haircare brands.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
I think a lot of the time we get stuck on feeling we can only draw inspiration from celebrities or figures that are far from our reach and we don’t personally know. I love to surround myself with other mujeres that are growing and building just like me and inspire me through their own hard work to keep going and reach higher.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
It is truly a dream come true to see Rizos Curls on Target shelves after launching only two years ago. Rizos Curls is a personal labor of love from the formulas I created to pouring my life savings into this company as a completely self-funded and independently owned family business.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
Daisy from Dazy Lyn Studio, Natalia and Lala from Bella Donna — plus so many more. They are all examples of women who are self-funded, passionate and unapologetic about their company values. I love how authentic, creative and consistent they are.

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
Scarce, I’m one of the few self-funded, self-made Latina owned haircare brands in my industry and it makes me proud to be in this space while staying true to who I am and the community that got me here. I feel a huge sense of responsibility to take the knowledge I continue to acquire and help other mujeres that were once in my shoes break into these competitive industries.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
One of the biggest obstacles has been money, staying self-funded and not giving into investors whose values don’t align with what Rizos Curls has worked so hard to build. Rizos Curls is equally curls, community, and culture, and although it would be nice to have the extra cash flow, I will never compromise the community or culture pieces.

What are ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
Honestly, for me, innovation and new product development comes from our Rizos Reinas and Rizos Reys. We stay ahead of the game because we are not afraid to reach out to our customers for help. Some of our best ideas from our own customers.

Mariana Atencio, Journalist

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Photo credit: Nina Rodrigues

Venezuela-born journalist Mariana Atencio came to America as a result of the turmoil in her country and went on to become an established broadcast journalist and bestselling author. Her TedX Talk “What Makes You Special?” is one of the top 10 most viewed on YouTube and last year she published her first book, the bestselling Perfectly You: Embracing the Power of Being Real. In 2018 she co-founded media company “GoLike” producing scripted and nonscripted TV programming and podcasts among other similar projects.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
In my case, I stand on the shoulders of mujerones like Rita Moreno, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, J.Lo, Shakira, Sofia Vergara, and Eva Longoria. They are all unapologetically Latina, hard workers and perfectly themselves. That’s what has made them larger than life and able to transcend. By watching and learning from them, I’ve seen myself reflected on the bench, stage, and screen.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
Co-founding ‘Golike’, our multimedia production company. Taking that step required walking away from a comfy salary and three- year-deal as a national correspondent. I didn’t do it on a whim. It took guts and lots of strategizing. But after a decade on television, I’ve seen the need to tell the stories of our community for mainstream audiences. It’s my way to give back to our people who welcomed me and supported me when I first came to the U.S. That purpose gave me the courage to create Go Like’s first product Perfectly You: Embracing the Power of Being Real. That was just the beginning. We are cooking up more amazing projects with lots of hard work and our unique magia.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
Women in journalism are my superheroes. Maria Elena Salinas, who is my mentor and broke barriers at Univision and now at CBS. Maria Elena taught me valuable lessons while I was starting out, like the power of having ‘the yes attitude’ at a point when I was stuck professionally. Maria Hinojosa, a pioneer as a Latina developing English language content, who never wavers, and always speaks out when it comes to our issues and causes. She does it with the facts, the nuances and the passion at hand, an unbeatable combination. Ana Navarro, who stands taller than any man on screen. She gave me the opportunity to present my documentary on the crisis in Venezuela at Harvard back in 2014, which was a huge deal. She paves the way by defending her point of view, fiercely. Ana understands what it’s like to flee her home country and be American by choice. She conveys that with unparalleled power and wit on television day after day. Maria Teresa Kumar, who not only raises her voice on air but has made sure we understand there is power in our voices and our votes. The space and platform she’s created with Voto Latino is exactly the kind of organization we need more of, especially this year. Joy Reid, who was a guiding light for me at MSNBC and always gave me a platform to talk and report on Latinx issues in an authentic way. Joy taught me that we have so much to learn from the African American and Afro-Caribbean experience and that when we unite, our communities are unstoppable.

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
That combination is still challenging, especially in media where it makes you a bigger target.  I have heard: ‘You’re too white; you’re not brown enough; your eyebrows are too dark; your hair is too long; your name is funny to pronounce; why are you rolling your rr’s?; you cover Latino issues too much; why don’t you cover Latinos more?…’ these are some of the things I’ve had to deal with.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
I came to the United States with no green card, no connections, an accent, and a dream. Even after I succeeded, the most devastating thing was losing my dad in the midst of the health crisis down in Caracas. I work hard to honor him and this land of opportunity in everything I do.

What are ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
I created ‘Golike’ along with my business partner because we were frustrated by the lack of authentic Latinx content out there. Sometimes, you just have to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself.  We are trying to create content and tell stories in a way that’s positive, bilingual and bicultural. Not stereotypical. We’re innovating by being multi-platform and multi-passionate, because there is a tendency, especially in journalism, to stick you in one lane. I try to make way for others. We need to get rid of this mentality of ‘If you make it, I can’t make it.’ It’s actually the opposite. The more of us there are on the table, the better. Oftentimes, I’m the only Latina in many rooms. Whenever that happens, please know: I’m doing everything I can to set up chairs and open the door for you.

Brittany Chavez, Founder of Shop Latinx

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5jUItWgTlH/

Brittany Chavez is the entrepreneur behind Shop Latinx, the first-ever e-commerce site for and by the Latinx community. It launched last year featuring brands like Hija de tu Madre and Brujita Skincare, providing a platform exclusively featuring Latinx brands that continues to grow. She’s also one-third of Las Jefas Crew with Julissa Prado and Patty Delgado, the trio work to empower and educate young entrepreneurs on how to navigate the business world.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
My mom has been my number one inspiration. She was pregnant with me at seventeen and really hustled her way to give me a great life. It’s her resilience and empathetic nature that got me to where I am today.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
Creating Shop — it’s really pushed to new limits; there are so many milestones I’ve hit in the last few years that I didn’t even know were attainable. So really getting to know myself on this journey, really challenging myself, has been dope.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
I admire all the women who hold the door open for the next woman to succeed. I admire the women who acknowledge share and give back to their communities. I admire bold and selfless women, women who are unapologetic in nature and that stand for something bigger than themselves.

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
Being Latina is my superpower. It’s what’s allowed me to grow Shop Latinx’s community organically because I come from the community we serve. I know what our audience wants because I am it.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
Imposter syndrome has been one of the biggest obstacles. I spent years blocking my own blessings. With growth, maturity, self-awareness and surrounding myself with people who want me to succeed — I now know that I’m capable of anything. I didn’t make it this far to only get this far. Even when other obstacles arise, I know I’ll be good.

What are some ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
At Shop Latinx, it is our mission is to connect Latinx makers to an audience of people who are looking for the exact products they’re selling — products that speak to them. I want folks to come to our website and feel proud and inspired, that, if one day they decide to be a business owner, they’ll have a community willing to support them, too.

We’re also changing the way the Latinx consumer is represented. We are not a monolith; we are multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-generational, we like nice things and we’re passionate about all that’s happening in our communities. From showcasing our favorite indie Latinx brands to advocating for Black and Queer Latinx rights, to discussing world issues, to Latinx pop-culture trends- Shop Latinx strives to represent just how colorful and nuanced Latinidad really is.

Diosa Femme, Co-founder and producer of Locatora Radio

Peruana-Mexicana Diosa Femme is one-half of the Los Angeles-based feminist podcast Locatora Radio alongside Mala Muñoz. She’s a writer and mental health advocate whose work centers around sexual and reproductive justice, and the femme as politic and praxis. The podcast just entered its fourth season and is one of the most popular and praised Latinx podcasts.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
My community has inspired me. The women around me are doing incredible work to carve out space for themselves and others. I’ve been following Alexandria Ocasio Cortez for my latest inspo too.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
I’m proud of everything Locatora Radio has done since it’s launch in 2016. We’ve grown so much organically while maintaining full-time jobs in different industries.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
Patty Rodriguez is someone I look to as a Latina in radio that has been representing and creating opportunities for Latinas at all levels. Lala Romero is in an innovator and everything she does to put on her for the community is inspiring and something I try to follow. Monica Style Muse is in the beauty industry  but she is such a brilliant content creator and artist. All these women are innovators in their own ways.

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
It can be really disheartening and discouraging at times to learn the gatekeepers are white men who do not understand the importance of our stories. You hear things like, “well we already have one show about culture.” When the reality is there’s room for all of our stories.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
Being independent and self-funded can be daunting but it’s also given us the opportunity to own our content, produce what we want, the way we want.

What are some ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
Podcasting can exist outside of the studio space. We are innovating by creating more than audio content. We produce live events/shows, workshops, short films and are working on a graphic novel.

Adriana Alejandre, Founder of Latinx Therapy

https://www.instagram.com/p/BoxclHvHF_L/

Adriana Alejandre is a licensed therapist and founder of the Latinx Therapy podcast and the Latinx therapist directory. The bilingual directory allows users to search for Latinx therapists according to their needs, location, and budget. She works out of her office in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles and specializes in trauma and anxiety related to sexual assault, domestic violence.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
Throughout the years the Latinas that have inspired me have been my mother for her strength, and my sister for teaching me how to be kind and nurturing. Another Latina that has inspired me was my 1st-grade teacher, Mrs. Maria Grimes, someone I will never forget. She believed in me and told me I would become someone one day. I will forever remember her acts of kindness towards 6 year old me, and her words: “You are going to college one day.”

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
There are many, but my greatest professional achievement is graduating from my undergraduate program with my two-year-old. This has been by far the most difficult phase of my entire journey. I had him after my first year of college and had to schedule my classes back to back for two days so that I could study at UC Santa Barbara, then after my last class, drive 2-hours to go home to be with him and work. I commuted weekly for 3 years. Leaving him behind for the two days were difficult, and it had its consequences but it was also the reason why I started going to therapy to heal and led me to where my son and I are at today.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
I truly admire Dra. Olga Mejia,  she founded the Ánimo program at CSUF (in Fullerton), which is a unique graduate counseling program that is bilingual and for students who want to help the Latinx population upon graduating.  I admire her because she has pushed to make her vision to help the community come true, even when others may not have supported it. I admire deeply Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, she specializes in trauma and decolonizes psychology in a very real and unique matter, that some individuals also may not support, but she continues to share her knowledge because she knows our field needs this. Her voice is so necessary in the mental health world and I am so honored to have been able to study under her during my graduate program.

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
Within the mental health realm, Latinas are still a minority, however, the community is recognizing the need for mental health services and my caseload is usually very booked, it certainly makes me proud that many Latinx want to heal. Since I am a “young” looking Latina, the older generation of Latinos do find it difficult to connect with me. When it comes to being a Latina in mental health networking events, I have learned that older individuals in the field are considered more “wise” and that it is easier for my non-POC colleagues to get clients in private practice.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
I have had to overcome setting more limits on my schedule and accepting help. I have hired a personal assistant to help me with week-to-week tasks such as packing and shipping products, responding to emails, fixing directory hiccups and other administrative tasks for Latinx Therapy. I grew up being very independent and with the mentality that I can do anything on my own. This was a difficult reality, but one that I am relieved to have let go [of]. Another obstacle has been trusting my intuition. I grew up in survival mode most of my life due to both direct and indirect traumas and I recently came to a realization that I am no longer in my perceived threat. I gave myself permission to take risks, like signing a lease for a five-office counseling suite and Latinx Therapy headquarters. Without this, I definitely would not be thriving to the point that I am now.

What are some ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
My efforts include building community between Latinx therapists working in various settings, and also between Latinx individuals who want to decrease stigma among mental health in their households. I also plan on creating bilingual material to publish one day so that professionals can have access to more clinical resources since graduate programs do not have much information for us bilingual folks.

Joanna Cifredo, Trans activist and community organizer

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Puerto Rican trans activist, community organizer, and comedian Joanna Cifredo is the program director/lead visionary for Camp Albizu in Puerto Rico, a youth camp for children she’s currently raising funds for.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
Definitely the women in my family. My grandmother was an orphan with a third-grade education who lived in such deep poverty that as a child she would sleep under wooden homes. At 15, she gave birth to her first child and by 21 she was married with 3 children. After breaking free from my philandering grandfather she went to work as a cook in a juvenile detention center where she became a mother figure to the youth. Eventually retiring after running the kitchen for 32 years. My grandmother has endured a lot of hardship and struggle throughout her life yet she keeps a positive outlook. She wears her battle scars proudly. She exudes confidence and laughs with her whole body. She gives love like its candy. She’s beautiful beyond measure and inspiring as hell.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
In my 20s, I worked a lot on healthcare policy. One of my greatest achievements was working with a task force of other activists to help pass trans-inclusive healthcare protections. Since then, countless trans people have been able to access the healthcare services they need to medically transition and address other healthcare needs.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
At the moment, I’m working on opening a non-profit organization. So I admire any woman who has ever run an organization. I’m constantly inspired by community leaders like Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas who after leading the National Latina Institute for Reproductive health is now running for state assembly in NY. Jessica’s leadership in reproductive rights has helped to completely reframe how we discuss reproductive justice from a truly intersectional framework. I’ve always admired her commitment to serving the most vulnerable among us and to uplifting grassroots leaders.

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
It’s frustrating and exhaustive. Getting anything done that has to do with the government, here in Puerto Rico, is a challenge. We have bureaucracy on this island like no other. Government offices never answer the phone and rarely is the information online available or up-to-date so sometimes figuring out which way is up is a challenge. My struggle is compounded by the fact that I am a transgender Latina in a very conservative town in Puerto Rico, so that’s always a fun adventure, sarcastically speaking. I wish we treated non-profit leaders like we do business leaders. Grant writing would be so much easier if you could just go on a show like Shark Tank and pitch your idea.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
Like many LGBTQ youth, I experienced significant bullying in my younger years that grew into harassment as an adult. Like so many of my LGBTQ siblings, I’ve had to deal with poverty, homelessness, and lack of healthcare. I have the fortune of benefiting from passing privilege. This has given me the ability to navigate most spaces easier than other folks who might have a hypervisibility associated with their transness. In addition, I have benefitted from the fact that I’m English-proficient, I’m a citizen, I’m light-skin and I’m pretty. We must acknowledge our privileges so that people don’t use our individual stories of triumph to say “so and so did it why can’t they.” More importantly, we must acknowledge our privileges so that we, ourselves, don’t fall into that all too familiar trope of “I did it, why can’t they.”

What are ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
My focus is on supporting the young leaders who are organizing and doing amazing work in their communities and encouraging them to run for office. There’s this idea that corporate elites and the political establishment are the only ones that understand how things work. We are not stupid. Those of us who’ve been on the front lines organizing communities know very well the game that is being played here. We understand it, we see it and it’s gotta end.

Julissa Arce, Writer and Immigrant Rights Activist

https://www.instagram.com/p/B9AGiSjAtzL/

Julissa Arce was an undocumented immigrant who worked her way up to become vice president at Goldman Sachs before revealing her status and since then she’s become a vocal activist for immigrant rights. In the past three years she’s released two best-selling books, My (Underground) American Dream and Someone Like Me. She founded Ascend Educational Fund, a college mentorship/scholarship program for immigrant students and children of immigrants regardless of status. She recently participated in the discussion over the American Dirt controversy on Oprah’s Book Club on Apple TV.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
My mom, my sisters, mis amigas! I am very blessed to have so many powerful Latinas in my life. I don’t have to look far for inspiration.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
I can’t think of a single achievement that is the greatest. I like to celebrate each win, whether large or small. Each success and failure has helped me get here.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
So many of them! Here is a very incomplete list: Nely Galan, Patty Rodriguez, Bricia Lopez, Reyna Grande, Erika Sanchez, and Maeve Higgins.

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
I’ve had two careers in my life. First, I was on Wall Street, a very white and very male industry. Now, as a writer, I am in a publishing industry that is 80 percent white. That can make it challenging to be heard and understood. But I’ve never let any obstacle stop me.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
I was undocumented for more than a decade, but the amazing thing about immigrants is that we never give up.

What are some ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
I was recently on Oprah’s Book Club challenging the publishing industry and Oprah herself to face how they have ignored our work. I think speaking up, even against the most powerful is critically important in any industry. We all have a voice that is important and powerful.

Zoila Darton, Founder of WORD

Zoila Darton is a Panamanian-Jamaican Jew from New York City turned Angeleno who has developed a decade-long career working as a creative director, connecting people from different industries and communities. In 2017, Zoila founded WORD Agency, where she builds marketing campaigns and consumer experiences from the ground up that focus on telling the stories of women and other marginalized communities through the lense of creativity.

Who are the Latinas that have inspired you through the years?
I’ve always been inspired by Celia Cruz, she is pure sazon and always represented what being an unapologetic woman looks like. Judge Sonia Sotomayor for beating the odds. Rosario Dawson’s iconic role in the film Kids and her dedication to the girls of NYC via The Lower East Side Girls Club is inspiring.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
Starting a new career and my own creative agency while also raising a toddler — a true juggling act. But honestly, I’m working on not measuring my worth based on professional gains but based on how many people I can touch and help feel seen through the work that I do.

Who are some of the women in your industry that you admire and why?
I’m in awe of Mimi Valdez, who is the creative director of, I am OTHER and Melina Matsoukas who directed Queen & Slim. Their work reminds me to continue to push my creative boundaries. Yaya Mazurkevich, she is one of the toughest and smartest women in the business. There is a certain tenacity that comes with women from the hood. We share that and it’s beautiful to watch her fly.

What is it like being a woman and Latina in your industry?
Honestly, I am so many things other than Latina. I’ve learned to use my eclectic background and unique experience as a superpower. Running a creative agency on my own is challenging but I know that my perspective is what is helping me thrive in the creative industry. I’m just getting started!

What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
I’m the only thing that’s ever stood in my way. Once I decided to fully bet on myself, the obstacles just became part of the journey.

What are some ways you look to innovate/change/enhance the industry you’re in?
I’m relatively new to the creative marketing industry but I hope that my career trajectory inspires people to believe that they too are creative and that their story matters. We are living in a moment where unique perspectives are not only needed but are being told at the forefront of the creative industry. I hope people look at me and are simply inspired to create.