US Hispanics represent 60 million people, 18% of the population, 12% of the country’s GDP, $1.7 trillion of purchasing power, the youth population - and the list goes on! There are countless stories of what makes U.S. Hispanics innovative, ingenuitive, and hard workers. Their impact is told through the countless stories of Hispanics across the country. We Are All Human, aggregated and shares the stories about the experiences, challenges, and successes of Hispanic Stars nationwide. It showcases the diverse backgrounds, obstacles and contributions made by this strong and resilient population nationwide and shines a light on the beauty of this fundamental American community. You can find your full copy here.
Below is one of the 92 Hispanic Stars featured in this book, Founder of Fluential Leadership, Jennifer Garcia. Her story formed her resilience and hire desire to elevate small businesses.
Street Side Freedom
“I was trapped...”
I grew up in a small town often described as, “so small, if you blink you’ll miss it”. Life in Mora, New Mexico was simple, we had dirt roads, no street lights, one school, our nearest neighbor was 300 yards up the road. Rural living also meant that the majority of the community was self-employed, as was the case for my father. During my formative years, he sold what he could to support our family. For years we would dig small trees and wrap them in burlap, gather truck loads of firewood, pick rock and boulders, and then drive to a nearby city and sit on the side of the road to sell. As I grew older, I was embarrassed to be seen on the side of the road. I was trapped by the opinions of others.
My mom was an educator, but also did what she could to support the family. Every year for Mother’s Day she would order 3,000 roses and resell in our community. I would dethorn 3,000 roses and wrap them in bouquets. If that wasn’t painful enough, I would then knock on each classroom door selling roses to students. We then parked on the side of the street in the ‘vendor corner’ of our small town and sold roses to the community. With age and greater awareness of peer perception, the more I dreaded Mother’s Day weekend. I was trapped by the opinions of others.
After college, I got a corporate job in San Francisco. The first time my mother came to visit, I took her to my office on the 35th floor of a high rise in the financial district. I was confused by her tears running down her face as she toured my office building. I can still hear the shakiness of her voice as she said “Jenn, you’ve come so far”. City living, skyscrapers, subways, an amazing job with a 360 degree view of San Francisco, was so distant from my roots in Mora, New Mexico.
I worked in finance and with an amazing company for over a decade. I frequently received accolades for my career; a lucrative job with all the right benefits, but inside my heart longed for more. If I had stopped there I would have been deemed a success story. Over time I realized that I was trapped by golden handcuffs.
Two years ago, I resigned and launched my own company, I traded a lucrative job for zero income. I effectively went back to sitting on the side of the road, selling to provide for my family. As I reflect on the hustle of parents and my very own hustle, I realize that there is such freedom when you release the opinions of others.
I am learning that I can do the ugly, the unpopular, the embarrassing, I can pursue my dream, with freedom. And that alone is success.