Latin Heritage Month!
In celebration of Latin Heritage Month, it’s important for me as a Colombian woman, mom,and entrepreneur, to share experiences from my personal journey as well as the deep sense of pride that I have for my community and culture.
First and foremost, I am a proud Colombian and a “Cafecito” lover, born and raised in Pereira, Colombia which is where I spent most of my childhood. My parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents are all Colombian. If we go back even further in the family tree, there may even be a slight blend of Spanish! Though at my core, I’m Colombian through and through.
During my teenage years, my family relocated to Peru because of my dad’s job. And truthfully, it was probably one of the best times in my life. The people who grew to become my closest friends are Peruvian and I quickly became a Peruvian food fan — because who doesn’t love a good ceviche?
Initially, I never really thought or dreamt about moving to the states, although all the schools I went to taught me English and that was something my parents always wanted me to learn. Still, the urge to move away never came to me. Little did I know, my perspective would soon be changed forever.
After I finished high school in Colombia, I moved to Chicago for almost a year to perfect my English (fun fact: it’s still not perfect). I had so much fun meeting people from all over the world and getting to experience a different life and culture. But for some reason, I always felt out of place — like I didn’t belong. I remember my dad wanted me to go to college there and I just didn’t. I didn’t feel it was my thing or the right fit. So after a year, I went back to Colombia and started college in Medellin. I went to business school, but was always drawn to fashion. I decided to venture my way to the states again and moved to Atlanta. I transferred to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), which is where I received my degree studying fashion.
The 4 years I was in Atlanta I would pretty much only hangout with Colombian and Latin people. It was the best time because I was always surrounded by my own culture. We created our own little family away from home.
That sense of community we created is one of the best things about being a Latina living away from home: you create your own family wherever you go. You support and help each other as if you were relatives. When you see another Colombian, you get excited. When you meet another hispanic speaking person, all you want to do is talk about how much you miss your “tierrita” and the wonderful lifestyle back home.
Following my graduation, I received an unbelievable opportunity to present my collection during fashion week in New York. I soon moved to New York and landed an internship. Being a Latina woman living in a city like the Big Apple presents its own sets of challenges.
Most jobs were underpaid and you start to develop a sense of insecurity. Not having your family close to you, and that form of support is another hurdle in addition to everything else. Sometimes I would get the feeling that I didn't belong there. Having an accent was obviously hard to hide. Not looking like the typical Latina “stereotype”.Many people think that if your hair is not dark enough or if you're not short enough then you are not Latina.
Latinas come in so many shapes, sizes, and everything in between. Breaking that stereotype became part of every conversation I had with new people and it’s my mission to make that known.
Now as an entrepreneur, I feel proud of how far I have come. I’ve met so many other amazing, hard-working, and inspiring Latina women. I’ve always been and always will be deeply proud of where I come from and my culture. And now that I am a mom, I feel the duty to teach my son about his background and his beautiful, blended culture. I’m married to an American who is Italian and Irish. With my son being born in the states, I find that's the beauty of living here. You become a beautiful mix of cultures, backgrounds, customs, languages, and more!
Although I do miss all the things about Colombia, I feel this is home for me now. And I love getting to share our values, family traditions, and show how warm and loving our people are.
Happy Latin Heritage Month !