There is so much attention on supporting black businesses and buying black right now, but my mission of working with women of color has been in my heart for a long time.
I grew up with lots of strong, beautiful, and smart women in my family. They served as daily inspiration for me in so many ways and showed me just what was possible when you marry determination with hard work. Women like my grandmother, Justina, who migrated to the US to earn a living while leaving her children behind in Puerto Rico to be raised by my great-grandmother. Women like my mom, Stephany, who was a teen mother then went on to be the first in her family to go to college. Or my elder sister, Mignone, who migrated to the US alone with a suitcase and my 5-year-old nephew in tow only to have to build a life from scratch.
Each of them and so many others showed me just what is possible when you have a goal to do better along with the perseverance and grit required to do the hard work of achieving it. I watched each of them struggle, fall down, and get back up more times than I can remember. They did all that while smiling and living joyfully despite the tribulations. There were struggles with mental health, domestic violence, lifting themselves out of poverty, foreclosures, immigration status, debt collections. You name it, and we have it in our family. Despite it all, they each managed to create a little or a lot of good things in their lives.
At the time, I didn’t realize just how strong and amazing their accomplishments were, but now I see the magnitude of what they did. Forget making lemonade from lemons— they only had cast off, already-juiced lemons, and made the most delicious lemon cake. Each one of them created modern-day miracles time after time. I really believe the only difference between what they were able to achieve and a life of comfort and ease was the tools of how to channel their smarts and resourcefulness to set themselves up for the future. I find myself asking:
What would my mom’s life have looked like if she didn’t have to worry about putting herself through college while financially supporting herself and several family members?
What would my sister’s life have looked like if she had more of a solid financial foundation to build off of, instead of having to start building financial security for herself?
What if they each had more knowledge of the importance of investing for long-term financial security?
The true undercurrent in each woman’s story was a lack of knowledge, financial resources, and education about how to create more financial stability. None of them were able to move beyond the mentality of making enough to pay all the bills, getting to tax season without being completely broke or asking themselves “Can I afford this payment?” I believe this was in large part due to a lack of dissemination of financial knowledge.
Each one of these women did the absolute best that they could in life with the tools and the knowledge they had. My goal is to catch women like them early, to provide them with concrete knowledge, education, and skills to set themselves and future generations to have a little more ease in life. I want to serve as an understanding, knowledgeable resource for all the black and brown women out there who know they want better for themselves, but are really unsure about HOW to get there. They each deserve more security and choices. I want to be there to help them see just how plentiful those choices can be.