Ponte Las Pilas Was the Event We All Needed this Latinx Heritage Month

Latinx Collective BELatina ponte las pilas
The Latinx Collective

Latinx Heritage Month is a month-long celebration dedicated to acknowledging and highlighting the diversity of the Latinx community. The Latinx Collective and SquareSpace teamed up to kick off the month with Ponte Las Pilas, a celebration, and conversation hosted at Square Space’s New York City office about Latinx entrepreneurship

The rainy weather did not deter people from attending. The event was full of eager guests waiting to hear from the esteemed panelists. Guest would and learn about the ways to merge your culture, ideas, and passion to launch your own business. The evening was moderated by Dominican entrepreneur Elisabeth Rosario, Founder of The Latinx Collective, and an independent communications strategist professional. Rosario created The Latinx Collective after almost a decade of experience in the tech and finance sectors and realizing the lack of representation of Latinx people. The Latinx Collective connects Latinx creators and allies to one another to increase community.

One on one conversations with each panelist followed by question and answer allowed guest to deeply learn about each of the four entrepreneurs’ process and motivations for launching their businesses. 

Latina Self Help Coaching Business 

Cynthia Santiago Borbon
Photo cynthiasantiagoborbon.com

Cynthia Santiago Barbon is a self help coach and Founder and CEO of Restoring Every Aspect of Living (R.E.A.L., Inc.). R.E.A.L is “a self-development company, lifestyle brand, and international community that empowers and teaches women the mindset, tools, and strategies they need to execute on their biggest dreams.” Santiago Barbon was very honest about how she delayed leaving her full-time job and focusing solely on her business for a while, “I had the LLC for a while before I really started doing my thing full time.” Rosario asked Santiago Barbon what was the defining moment that led her to leave her full time and start working for herself full time, “you know, it was the usual. I received a raise that was barely enough to be reflected in my check once it was taxed,” she explained through a chuckle “and I knew I wanted and could continue to make a difference through my work.” A self-described helper, Santiago Barbon has been offering her dynamic coaching services for almost a decade to clients from all over to help them create the lives they want and deserve. 

Latina Traveler Business Owner 

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Behold, probably the hardest hike of all hikes I’ve ever done. This is a full day, two part hike in beautiful Barahona: La Plaza & Cueva de la Virgen. Both VERY WELL WORTH IT with several gems along the way. Gorgeous and extremely underrated— nothing you’ll see in the Lonely Planet or Trip Advisor. But when I say it wasn’t easy… I mean people were literally holding my hand on the way back because I wanted to give up and get a piggy back ride 😂😂😂 back home. It was four women and four men. Most were in top shape… a few of us, cough me, not the most athletic… but all of us had an open mind and good spirits for curiosity + adventure. Every single one of us at one point slipped and fell. And yes that includes big brolic dudes falling flat to the ground 😂 and even my super cautious self… I was in shock as I barely caught myself with one hand on the way down to lessen the impact on my bum and realized… Toto, this is not a land for hiking sticks… and set them aside. While it’s not a LONG 2 week hike, it’s not continuously steep, it’s not snowing, and there’s no high altitude… it’s that it’s almost completely unpaved and you must improvise the way: over rocks, jumping down, leaping over, swimming, sliding, crawling and climbing up natural “second floors” without stairs. It was like the ultimate obstacle course + hike. A full body work out. So that’s what I mean when I say it was the hardest… even after climbing the tallest mountain in the Caribbean… this one still gets the prize for the most adventurous, limit pushing, full body work out hike. Today… months later, I look back happily at the experience… feeling like I was baptized by nature. But the next few days? 😂I couldn’t walk.

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The following panelist was Gerry Isabelle of Dominican Abroad. As a young woman raised in The Bronx by Dominican immigrant parents, she spoke about her families trepidations when it came to her deciding to stop pursuing a law degree and opt to literally travel the world and write instead. “As the children of immigrants, we often feel a sense of obligation to be a doctor or a lawyer to make our parents proud, but I knew that wasn’t for me.” Today Isabelle shares and documents her travels to over 40 countries on her website and Instagram in order to inspire, educate, and help diversify the homogeneous travel space. “There is not a lot of representation of us [latinx] in travel, I want to continue to change that.” She does this through custom immersion tours, curating itineraries, and offering consultations to curious travelers. Isabelle has made it her business to change the face of travel through pursuing her passions.

Business Highlighting Latino Artist 

Sokio is a Chilean artist who launched The New Latin Wave in 2016. The New Latin Wave helps Latinx artists within the United States showcase their creativity and work. “Often times we are seeing museums and or events bringing in Latino artist from other countries while overlooking the talent that is present here.” The Latin Wave brings together artists that use a number of mediums to express their work for events, shows, and one day events to help share their work with the community. “Being in New York City allows these artists the opportunity to say, ‘I have a show in New York City’ how cool is that?” The team is currently planning their events for 2019 and 2020. Sokio says they are trying a few new things while using some of the elements of their first festival. 

Public Relations Business by Latinas 

Frustrated by the lack of intentional and limited opportunities for Latinas in Public Relations Peruvian entrepreneur Danielle Alvarez left her full time job and launched The Bonita Project. The Bonita Project bridges the gap between general and multicultural markets to build buzz for brands and create a detailed, creative, and inclusive PR strategy for every client. Alvarez was excited to share that major beauty and make up brands are now more than ever open to learning about how to tap into the Latinx market. However, she was equally excited to share how Latinas are creating their own brands for their communities. Alvarez views her cultural identity and business acumen as assets. Her motivations to launch her own business came in the form of a compliment during an office holiday gift exchange. “I got a card and the message in the card basically said that I was great at running a mini agency inside the agency. This let me know I was already doing what I wanted to do so I knew I could do it on my own.” 

Some of the common themes heard from the panelists in their individual conversations with Rosario and during the question and answer portion was that there is never going to be a ‘perfect time’ and stepping out on your own can look a number of different ways. Additionally, being a Latino and tapping into your culture can help you standout and deliver results that can be a win for both your business and the Latinx community as a whole. After the question and answer portion of the event attendees networked with one another and panelist to keep the conversations going and find ways to further support one another. 

Ponte Las Pilas brought together Latinx businesses, entrepreneurs, and aspiring entrepreneurs for an evening of inspiration, affirmations, and networking to kick off Latinx Heritage Month in a strong way.