20 inspiring Latina entrepreneurs in Sonoma County
According to Los Cien, Latinas are one of the fastest-growing new business owners in Sonoma County.
At their “State of the Latino Community” gathering in September, they shared that between 2007 - 2018, Latina owned businesses grew at a faster rate than any other demographic, at 172% versus the 12% of other businesses.
Sonoma County has a variety of Latina-owned businesses, from hair salons to specialty shops and restaurants. We spoke with some Latinas entrepreneurs from Sonoma County to learn a little more about how they get down to business.
If you live in Sonoma, you may have seen Danielly Rocha-Lanter’s large Ford Transit driving around town, advertising her personal training business. “My car gets me a lot of attention,” she said. “Sonoma has a lot of personal trainers, but only one with a really big car.”
Danielly’s Fitness is a mobile personal fitness training program that she operates out of her truck, which carries two rowing machines, dumbbells, kettle bells and anything else needed to help her clients reach their fitness goals from the comfort of their home. She currently serves the regions of Oakmont, Glen Ellen, Kenwood, and Sonoma.
Rocha-Lanter previously worked in sales at a life insurance company, while also dedicating her time to personal fitness training, but had dreams of opening her own business. “I’ve always wanted to be a business owner, ever since I came to America,” she said.
She was inspired to enter the fitness world because of her own weight loss experience. When she first immigrated to the United States from Brazil, the cultural shock was difficult for her and a combination of depression, bad diet and lack of exercise caused her to gain weight. One day, she decided enough was enough and began to make a change. She lost 45 lbs and then started to help friends and family with their nutrition and fitness goals, using the knowledge she had gained. After she was offered a job in the field, she acquired her license.
She loves connecting with her clients and supporting them in achieving their fitness goals, even helping one client lose 80 lbs. She attributes her sales skills in helping her grow her business, but her ultimate goal as an entrepreneur is to change people's lives.
Rocha-Lanter advises anyone interested in opening a business to start slow and have the financial security before they begin trying. She suggests having a goal and timeline in mind. “Mine was to go full-time with my personal training in 2 years,” she elaborated.
Staring a business does not come without challenges, including client cancellations, slow seasons and the PG&E blackouts. She admits she also had the issue of fearing rejection due to her accent, but it quickly became her advantage because she saw a need for Latina personal trainers in the area.
“In Brazil, we have a saying: ‘If you don’t have a dog to hunt with, use your cat.” In other words, find other ways to achieve your goal.
Jewelry making runs in Gloria Rubio's blood. As a child, she watched family members create intricate beaded jewelry and fell in love with the art. She now feels like this passion is her calling. “As an adult, I found out that my aunt Gloria also makes jewelry, using the same beads I do,” she said. “Seeing that, I felt like it was my destiny.”
She began making beaded flowers to wear in her hair during her ballet classes at Sonoma State University, where they caught the attention of other students who began commissioning flowers for themselves. It became so popular, that she started selling them at craft events during her summer and winter breaks.
Rubio learned how to make the beaded flowers by chance. She found one in a gift shop, bought it and took it apart, and teaching herself how to make the intricately beaded beauties. She perfected the method, adding her own twist along the way.
“As a Latina, I wanted to see more color, add my own flavor,” said Rubio. “It’s a fusion of a vintage craft and my culture, it’s colors.”
The flowers are derived from a Victorian-era method. Dressmakers would save the leftover beads from gowns and make flowers with them. “It’s an art that was re-purposed and has been passed down throughout history,” she said. The flowers are made with a wrap technique using small seed beads and take about 1-3 hours to make a piece, depending on the size. She also focuses on making Dia de Los Muertos specific jewelry.
Although she created MorninGloria’s more than ten years ago, it was always as a part-time job until she was able to transition to full-time work this past year. Rubio previously worked for Creative Sonoma under the Economic Development Board, which focuses on classes and workshops for creative businesses. She was able to pick up skills there that helped her when she made the decision to begin her business.