Welcome back to Give Me The Details. I’m so glad to have you join me for the finale of this series today! Women supporting women, moms supporting moms is the central idea of this event and also this series on the blog. I have been covering the MomBoss event for a few months now and I loved the concept of it from the moment I heard about it. This event was started by Alexandra Graham, owner of Reruns 4 Little Ones, as a way to showcase other moms in business weekly in her shop. This event starts at the beginning of summer and runs through fall each year. Each week moms can sign up to come into the shop and set up a pop up of their business there.
Today, my coverage of this event and the participants comes to an end as I talk to my last woman in business that is participating. It feels perfect to finish with her because of the background of her idea for a business. Not only is she a stay at home mom who started a business but the business she choose supports many producers of hand made products in her native country of Ecuador. She has chosen a business that she believes in, products she believes in, and people she believes in to support in this business.
Cristy Hill is a wife, mom of two, and businesswoman. When I first began talking to Cristy about this article what came across immediately was how hard working she is. We would message between weekend markets and festivals, between mom duties and Etsy shop overseeing. I’m not sure this lovely lady ever slows down. What I am sure of is that she has big dreams both for herself and her business but also for her sons. This mama is teaching entrepreneurship to her children at a young age and they are listening! Now I’d like to ask you to join me to listen too as Cristy tells us about her family, her business, motherhood and the behind the scenes of working with producers of goods from Eucador. Here is Cristy, unedited and unfiltered:
Tell me about yourself and your family:
“I was born and raised in Ecuador. I was a university professor for four years in Ecuador, I used to teach math, geometry, physics and calculus. I also ran the Erupcion Hostel with my mom. In 2000, I met my husband Frank who was studying Spanish in Ecuador and 10 years later I immigrated to the United States. We lived in Ohio for a year but I could not stand the cold weather so we then moved to Tampa. We have been living here for six years.
We have two sons Frankie and Everett. They are 6 years old and 3 years old. Frankie is in first grade and Everett stays at home with me. Everett will go to pre-K next year. Frankie likes playing with Legos and he is interested in learning about robotics. Everett likes playing with his cars and trains.
I enjoy travel-I have visited Spain, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, and Panama. Every summer we go to Ecuador to visit my family and to select the products for our business.”
What has surprised you about motherhood? What gives you the most joy and the most challenge?
“I always wanted to be a mother. To get pregnant with my first child was not easy. Three different doctors told us we couldn’t have a baby naturally. After trying for a year and a half, I got pregnant with my first son Frankie. Three years later, we had Everett. The most joy I have is sharing every minute of my life with my sons. I have had the opportunity to see them eating their first solid foods, their first steps, hearing their first words, taking them to their activities, etc.
My major challenge was not having my mother next to me after I delivered my boys. In Ecuador, when a baby is born the grandmother, aunts, or friends will take care of the baby and the mother for at least a month until the mother can do her regular activities. Thank God, since we are so far away from my family I had my husband helping me with everything.
(Cristy with her mom and siblings in Ecuador pictured above)
My sons know how my business works. They know that when we travel to Ecuador, they will spend a few days with my mother while my husband and I leave to do the orders from the producers. When the cargo gets to my house, my sons will help me to open the boxes and to sort the small products. At the events, they will help me to set up and they will get a reward. My oldest son, Frankie likes doing sales once in a while. I want my children to know more about how to become entrepreneurs because by doing so they can learn to believe in themselves, to help other people and to be independent.
I want to stay at home with them but at the same time I want to have an income. This business gives me the opportunity to do both. During the weekdays, I stayed home with Everett while Frankie goes to school. In the mornings, I will list items for sale on my Etsy shop. In the afternoons, we will go to the park or their different activities. On the weekends, my husband and sons and I will go to work. My husband or I will stay at the booth and the other one will take care of the boys. We take turns doing this.”
Tell me about your business:
“Latin American boutique was founded in 2013. We started at the Ybor City Saturday Market working just one day a week with one table of products and have since grown into operating 3 to 4 days a week with four tables and the tent full of products. We work at festivals, upscale markets, concerts, and farmer’s markets around the Tampa Bay and Orlando area on the weekends. We are now also on Etsy as well to bring handmade creations to the world!”
This is my only job. I sell fair trade handmade products including finger puppets, headbands, backpacks, fanny packs, women’s and girl’s dresses, hoodies, scarves, and ponchos.”
Why is this the right business for you?
“It is the right business for me because I like being my own boss. I can spend more time with my family and I can take a vacation when I want. At the same time I can meet new people every weekend at different events.”
What made you decide to get this business started?
“When I arrived in the United States, I was looking for something new to do. I realized that there were not many products from Ecuador available for sale in Florida. My husband and I were traveling back-and-forth to Ecuador a lot to visit my family anyways so little by little we started to import back more products to see what Americans liked.”
(Shopping for items in Ecuador)
Do you have any tips for a fellow woman getting started in a new business?
“I have a few tips:
* Find your profitable niche-make sure your products or services will fit in the market.
* If you need guidance, there is the small business development center at USF.
* Write a business plan and follow the steps.
* Never give up.
* Be persistent and follow your passion.
* You will find obstacles but you will overcome them.”
What challenges have you faced in your business?
“After all these years, I have learned a lot about participating at festivals and farmers market’s. Before I apply for these events I have to do my homework looking for information about the event for the last few years. I have to find out what will be the expected attendance of the event, both sellers and buyers. Despite doing this homework and looking over all of this information sometimes I still ended up signing up for terrible events. Another negative factor is the rain. When it rains I do not have sales.”
What are some benefits of what you do?
“I am my own boss. I have my own schedule. I can do different activities with my family. I can visit my family in Ecuador every summer.”
What are your goals as you continue with this business?
“My goal is to build up my Etsy shop and stop doing the outdoor events during the summer. I also want to participate at tradeshows in different states.”
I love selling the colorful headbands. They come in 38 different patterns. For the fall and winter season I will have beanie hats, alpaca scarves, and ponchos.
Every time we visit the producers, we feel welcome at their homes. We will have a conversation about the products for the new season and they will show us new designs, colors and patterns to choose from. Their comments are always positive about how well they believe we will do with the products and they expect we will come back soon from more items. The producers are grateful and happy that we can help them. The economic situation in Ecuador is not good enough to support their families. So having my customers be from different countries, is a big change in their lives.”
(A producer pictured above creating one of many products Cristy sells)
Best memory of a successful moment doing what you do:
“Every time I have the opportunity to help a new producer in my home country of Ecuador I feel successful. I carry products from at least 10 different producers, each producer works with her family to complete the order. I enjoy learning about the process of how each item was handwoven and I share all these experiences with my customers.
Watching my sons be involved in my business makes me happy too. They help me with setting up my booth and they like to interact with the customers. Frankie and Everett want to become entrepreneurs in the future. Another successful moment is when previous customers come back to visit me and tell me how pleased they are with my products.”
(Cristy pictured with one of the producers in Ecuador)
I want to say a big thank you to Cristy for talking to me today! She will be at the MomBoss event this Friday, October 12th at Reruns 4 Little Ones. You can also find more of her items on her Etsy Shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/LatinAmericanBoutiq or on the Latin American Boutique’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/latinamericanboutique/.
(Gorgeous alpaca throw sold by Latin American Boutique)
I want to say how much I have enjoyed being a part of spotlighting this event for the last few months! Moms supporting moms is something I will always be behind. One last shout out to Alexandra Graham for putting this event together and making it possible for so many women to share their business at the event and their stories with me here on the blog.
This event might be coming to a close for the year but not my coverage of women in business! I will happily continue spotlighting inspiring women weekly as long as there are stories to tell. Do you know a women I should talk to? In business or with an amazing story? Is it you? Reach out to me if you’ve got someone in mind! Janet