(NEW YORK) — Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month celebrates the rich culture, achievements and valuable contributions of Hispanic, Latino, Latina and Latinx Americans who have made waves and inspired others to achieve success in their community and beyond.

The Hispanic-Latinx community makes up an estimated 18.7% of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

To mark Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month, we are highlighting a few small businesses that are an integral part of the fabric of the U.S. and beyond.

Ceremonia
Business: Hair care

Ceremonia is a clean hair care brand rooted in Latinx heritage. After growing up in Sweden, Babba Rivera, founder of Ceremonia, felt driven to bring change to the hair care community by starting a business that honored and represented her Chilean background. For years, she ignored her Latinx roots because she was not exposed to other entrepreneurs like her.

Rivera is the daughter of a hairdresser, which means beauty and hair care were always a priority for her family, with routine trips to relatives in Chile to keep up with the latest trends. Ceremonia focuses on hair wellness through the use of clean hair care.

“I have this stage of my life to thank for my fearless attitude today, because there is something very empowering about feeling like you know how to work your way up from nothing,” she said.

Rivera’s multifaceted career path prepared her to start Ceremonia during the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and contributed to her being a strong, proud Latinx business owner.

“With immigrant parents who did not speak the language and struggled to find a job, I often feel like I’ve gotten to where I am today against all odds. There’s something extremely humbling about the journey that has led me here and I feel incredibly proud and lucky to be where I am today,” Rivera said.

Rivera is not the only one who recognizes her achievements. Forbes awarded her with a spot on their prestigious “30 Under 30” list, which is the “definitive list of young people changing the world.” As Ceremonia gains traction, Rivera continues to reach higher in hopes that more Latinx entrepreneurs will develop businesses.

“My dream is for Ceremonia to continue to be at the forefront of this progress and inspire other brands to follow suit,” Rivera said.

 

Afrogirlie
Business: Handbags

Founded by proud Afro-Latina Leanna Castillo, Afrogirlie is an online purse boutique heaven.

This trendy business’ mission is to help its clients exude excellence, no matter what they do. According to Castillo, one of the most important pillars for her business was to “create something that was attainable for all women, regardless of socioeconomic background. You can have an amazing high-quality bag, and it doesn’t need to break the bank.”

Castillo is a Honduran American with a passion for entrepreneurship. Castillo admitted, “Being Afro Latinx is a unique experience. Outwardly the world looks at you and makes assumptions about you. This inspired me to create my business doing what I love most, which is fashion.”

As Castillo feeds her passion, her hope is to pay tribute to Black and Afro Latinas who were trailblazers in modern fashion. Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to “be patient.”

“It takes time to nurture a business, it’s truly like a baby, and it will need love and attention,” she said. “To my fellow Afro-Latinx entrepreneurs, we have such a unique experience and we must exploit that [in a good way]. Be your unapologetic authentic self.”

 

Old Salt Merchants
Business: Spices, teas and other kitchen essentials

Old Salt Merchants is a Latinx owned and operated provisions company born in the Victorian Seaport of Port Townsend, Washington. The company’s mission is to “ignite and expand our customers’ palates by sourcing a high-quality selection of gourmet products that are bold and irresistibly unique.”

“As far back as I can remember, I used to rummage through my mom’s spice cabinet and couldn’t help but focus on the unique smell all of the different spices had,” said Monique Rodriguez, the founder and CEO of Old Salt Merchants.

She continued, “The earthy and slightly pungent smell of cumin, for example, still reminds me of my grandmother’s kitchen.”

This is where the founder’s love for spices was born. “Our brand is influenced by my Mexican heritage and the importance of not only celebrating but acknowledging all the different cultures through food,” she said.

As a Hispanic woman-owned and operated company, Old Salt Merchants wants to create awareness around the contributions made by the Latinx community, but especially those made by women. Rodriguez attributed her success to perseverance during the pandemic and generous partnerships.

Rodriguez’s advice to other entrepreneurs is to find mentors and role models who can serve as sources of inspiration as you pursue your dreams.

“That type of like-minded network can help you in so many ways, but you have to be a little gritty, able to overcome obstacles and bounce back when things don’t go your way,” Rodriguez said. “Don’t be afraid to make that left turn when everyone else is making a right. That’s what will set you apart from the rest!”

 

Dauntless Clothing
Business: Clothing line

Paula Maldonado, a young Colombian American pioneer, founded Dauntless in 2017. She has always been an avid supporter of environmental and social causes and an advocate for innovative design principles. Maldonado’s belief that the fashion industry “lacked responsibility around fair trade standards, sourcing of materials or climate impact” set her on her mission to create an apparel brand dedicated to change, sustainability and honesty.

These tenets were not the only thing driving Maldonado’s mission. The founder added that she also wanted Dauntless to be employed solely by women and focused on supporting women’s empowerment and equal pay.

“I decided that my mission would be to bring conscious apparel to fashion-forward consumers and change their perception of what sustainable fashion looked like and what it meant,” she said.

Dauntless’ success can be traced back to hard work by a 100% women-run business.

Most recently, Dauntless was chosen for the all-in-one shopping app Klarna’s Small Business Impact Initiative, which gained more visibility and support as a valued brand in the industry. Castillo noted, “The Klarna Small Business Impact Initiative also awarded our team funding towards media exposure in an effort to help us recover from the pandemic.”

When asked about leading by example and paving the way for younger Latinx entrepreneurs, she said, “Success has no gender or race. Remove that stigma from your beliefs and your brain. Believe in what you are doing and look around for opportunities that can help you grow your business. You will be surprised by the number of people and companies that believe in women entrepreneurs and women in business. Don’t doubt yourself!”

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