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Claudia Mirza, Zoe Saldana, Nicole Marquis, Jennifer Rodríguez.
Claudia Mirza, Zoe Saldana, Nicole Marquis, Jennifer Rodríguez.

Latinas Share Their Path to Success

In Her Footsteps is a podcast produced by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) and sponsored by Bank of America.

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Nicole Marquis, the owner of the restaurant company Marquis & Co., in Philadelphia, believes the most important advice she can give other Latinas launching businesses is to “understand the why you’re doing this.”

“You have to be sure you want to have this kind of impact,” Marquis said during an episode of USHCCs podcast. She knew, Marquis said, that she wanted to change the way people viewed plant-based food.

On the podcast, Marquis discusses how it took her four years to create a business plan for a restaurant. She researched every detail, right down to the number of forks she would need. She spent two years thinking of the right name: HipCityVeg opened in 2012, a fast-casual restaurant with a plant-based menu. 

Since then, Marquis, whose mother is Puerto Rican, has expanded her business regionally with restaurants in D.C. 

Marquis is not the only one who reveals how they carved out a successful business on In Her Footsteps. One Latina business-owner discusses how an act of kindness inspired her to start a company. Another talks about rebuilding her company after Hurricane Katrina. A third talks about running two companies.

Focused on the theme of breaking barriers, the Latinas describe their challenges and struggles, their successes, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. They offer advice and tips. 

“Stay true to your brand“ as you face competitors, Marquis said, and “focus on what you do and do it well.”

Jennifer Rodriguez, President, and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, has hosted some of the Latinas on the podcast. 

“Latinas tend to not access the resources that they need,” said Rodriguez. Having successful Latinas share their stories, including the risks they took to start their own business or pursue a promotion in the corporate world, lets other Latinas know they’re not alone.

Hispanic chambers across the country can use the podcast as a resource to help identify local role models as well as Latinas who might need inspiration. “We need to search for these women, identify them in our network, in our communities, and ensure we support them.”

In all so far, 40 Latinas have participated in the podcasts, said Brianna Dimas, Vice President of Programs and Communications for USHCC. “These included Latina executives, and USHCC Latina business owners and members as well as Chamber leaders,” she said. 

Latinas are the fastest-growing entrepreneur sector in the world. Latinas open new small businesses at 6x the average rate compared to other groups, according to USHCC. 

“The USHCC is proud to highlight Latina entrepreneurs and Latina Executives and provide them a platform to share their stories through the In Her Footsteps Podcast,” said Monika Mantilla, Chair of the USHCC Educational Fund and Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Small Business Community Capital (SBCC) and President and CEO of Altura Capital.

This past season the podcast logged 2,500 downloads averaging 200-300 downloads per episode, according to Buzzsprout analytics provided by the chamber. “This is a big increase from the 950+ downloads from Season 1,” Dimas said. “Our female members are very engaged with this program.”

Here’s a look at 14 episodes that have been recorded so far: 

Episode 1 - Claudia Mirza on Translating Kindness Into Success

In our inaugural episode, we go to Dallas, Texas, to sit down with Claudia Mirza, CEO and Founder of Akorbi. She talks to us about originally starting her business as an act of kindness, what it takes to scale a company and the importance of laying the proper business foundations. Posted March 29, 2018

Episode 2 -  Beauty as a Business with Victoria Flores

In this episode, we sit down with New Yorker Victoria Flores, CEO, and Co-Founder of Lux Beauty Club, an innovative hair extension company. She shares with us about the growth of the modern beauty business, the importance of secure funding streams, and how passion is the most powerful ingredient for success. Posted May 30, 2018

Episode 3: Women on the Hill (Special Episode)

On this special episode, Domenika Lynch, President & CEO of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, asked four female chiefs of staff on Capitol Hill about their challenging - and essential - roles in government. Rhonda Fox, Beth Jefari, Bianca Ortiz-Wertheim, and Angela Ramirez discuss how they lead legislative efforts while navigating a divisive political climate. Posted June 13, 2018

Episode 4: Sarima Gracia on the Courage to Create

A conversation with Sarima Gracia, CCO, and Co-Founder of A + S, a creative agency based in Miami, Florida. We ask Sarima about her choice to leave corporate America and start her own agency, the importance of creating your own network, and the power of learning from your mistakes. Posted Aug. 8, 2018

Episode 5: Live from #USHCCPhilly with Zoe Saldana and Nely Galán

On this special live episode of In Her Footsteps, we feature two keynote speakers from our 2018 USHCC National Convention who are taking steps to change the media and professional landscape. Listen to Zoe Saldana, the award-winning actress and founder of BESE, alongside media powerhouse and New York Times bestselling author Nely Galán as they recount their personal experiences in the media industry and their visions for a more inclusive future. Posted Oct. 13, 2018

Season 2 
Episode 1: Angelica Garcia-Dunn on Business Adaptability

In this episode, we sit down with Angelica Garcia-Dunn, President and CEO of AIM Global Logistics, a Turn-Key Logistics solutions provider offering a wide array of freight transportation services. In this episode, we explore her new approach to the transportation industry. Posted Jan. 10, 2020

Episode 2: Teresa Lawrence On The Courage To Rebuild

In this episode, we sit down with Teresa Lawrence, President-Owner at Delta Personnel. Teresa takes us through her journey, rebuilding a company in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Delta Personnel offers a one-stop-shop, managing all logistics for their clients by provides services including on-site supervisors, worksite safety and risk management, and payroll. Posted March 2, 2020

Episode 3: Patricia Rodriguez Christian On What It Takes To Lead Two Companies

In this episode, we sit down with Patricia Rodriguez Christian, CEO of CRC Group Inc. and Texas Standard Commercial Construction LP. Patricia Explains how she was able to emerge out of the ’08 recession as the CEO of two companies in two different sectors. CRC Group Inc. provides large office environments with streamlined mail, courier, and copy services as well as specific business service needs. Texas Standard Commercial Construction supplies general contractors in the greater Dallas-Ft. Worth area with commercial painting and interior demolition services. Posted March 18, 2020

Episode 4: Nicole Marquis On Innovating The Food Scene With Plant-Based Menus

In this episode, we sit down with Nicole Marquis, Founder of Marquis & Co. Nicole is the restaurateur behind the plant-based fast-casual restaurant chain HipCityVeg, currently with locations in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. as well as the popular plant-based full-service restaurants Charlie was a sinner. And Bar Bombón. Inspired by experiences with diabetes in her family, Nicole found a way to reinvent the classic American menu by incorporating more healthy alternatives. With an admirable work ethic, Nicole has become a notable figure in the Philadelphia food scene. Hear her tips on what it takes to grow a chain and maintain a high-end restaurant, all with a focus on making vegan food palatable for broad audiences all at the same time. Posted April 19, 2020

Episode 5: Noramay Cadena & Carmen Palafox On Leading a Hands-On Venture Fund

In this episode, we sit down with the two Latina founders who have paved their way into the venture capital/ tech space all while keeping grounded in their community and with their associates. Noramay Cadena & Carmen Palafox are Cofounders of MiLA Capital, an LA-based seed-stage venture capital firm that invests in tech you can touch. MiLA leverages their extensive experience in manufacturing and supply chain to help startup founders tackle production challenges and get to market in a capital-efficient manner. Here are their stories of success. Posted June 12, 2020

Episode 6: Brandice Ortega On Paving Her Own Path in the Construction Industry

In this episode, we sit down with Brandice Ortega, President & CEO of Del Rio Enterprises Inc. Del Rio Enterprises, Inc. is an experienced general and electrical contractor in Albuquerque, NM. Brandice walks us through taking over a family business in a male-dominated field. Family is central to Brandice’s personal life as well as her work at a family-owned business. Posted June 26, 2020

Episode 7: Brenda Cordova On Building A Family Business To Compete With The Best

“Nose to the grindstone,” says Brenda Cordova, President of ADC LTD NM, the third-largest Hispanic-owned business in New Mexico. This work ethic how she explains she was able to compete with the Fortune 500 businesses in her field. Founded in 1985 by the Cordova family, ADC LTD NM is a leading provider of armed and unarmed guards, background investigations, pre-employment checks, and special investigations for government agencies and corporate clients. Posted July 10, 2020

Episode 8: Elizabeth Romero On The Key To Hispanic Business Growth

In this episode, we sit down with Bank of America’s very own Elizabeth Romero. With 25 years under her belt at Bank of America, Elizabeth walks us through her journey, climbing the corporate ladder from a bank teller to a Small Business and Client and Franchise Solutions Executive. Elizabeth also covers the latest small business research with us to give us insights into what Hispanic businesses can do to get a leg up. Posted July 24, 2020

Episode 9: Patricia Chavez On Barrier-Breaking Latinas

In this special live episode, we feature a fireside chat between Patricia Chavez, a Philanthropic Market Executive at Bank of America, and Jennifer Rodriguez, President & CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Patricia gives us insight into the driving factors of Hispanic small businesses, her personal success story, and how to take advantage of employee networks like Bank of America’s HOLA. Posted Aug. 7, 2020

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