Apr 16, 2014

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New Latinas: Tanya Alvarez and Lizbeth Cardozo

Today’s spotlight shines on two New Latinas who also happen to be good amigas and business partners.  How cool is that?!   Tany and Lizbeth share their friendship story and their thoughts on being Latina, business and balancing it all.  Enjoy!

NL: Please tell us about your friendship.  How did you both meet and how long have you both been friends?  What makes your friendship special?

LIZ: We met three years ago at a Hispanic networking event in Manhattan. I noticed Tanya’s style (loved her DVF!) and how she was quietly observing the room. I made a mental note to meet her. After circulating the room and meeting some key players, I walked up to her. We started talking about our projects and later we realized that we both had some things in common: being Colombian-American, lived in Miami, a desire to serve the Hispanic market, etc. She didn’t have any business cards, but I remembered her name, so I reached out to her via Facebook. We started off as business partners because we realized we had similar goals and aspirations, but we quickly became fast friends.

TANYA: When you work with somebody in a start up, the time you know them is multiplied by 10 years, or at least that’s my theory. So essentially, we’ve known each other for over 30 years. When you see somebody from morning until late night, and you still want to hang out with them on weekends, then you’ve found a perfect business partner. Sure. There are
ups and downs, laughs and tough times, but it’s like that in any relationship whether it’s with your sister, friend, boyfriend or husband. When you share similar goals and you realize that your cause is bigger than you (we both want to make a difference in the Latina community), our differences are trivial and we’re able to move past them quickly.

NL: You both work and collaborate together on projects.  What are the blessings and challenges of mixing business with friendship?

TANYA: Well, it’s always great to have two different perspectives. We celebrate together when we achieve something. We support each other when one of us is going through a tough time, either in business or personally. It’s always awesome to have someone who believes and supports you and makes you laugh. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company and idiosyncrasies.

LIZ: Definitely. I’d think, when you mix business with friendship, you get the good, the bad, and the really ugly. Haha. One very cool thing is that we read each other really well. So well, that we can be in a meeting and I can tell what Tanya’s next move is with just a few non-verbal cues and eye contact. You also know them so well, that you can help them understand and overcome their personal challenges. There’s not much you can hide. They pretty much know everything about you; like I said, the good the bad and the really ugly.

NL.  La Cosmopolatina is an online newsletter that you both founded.  Can you tell us more about it?

LIZ: La Cosmopolatina offers daily tips for Latinas who think in American but love in Spanish. We tap into the wisdom of our mothers, tias and abuelas for generations-old info and marry it with the latest trends. We deliver tips written from a Latin perspective to Latinas across the nation, with the voice of your amiga who is sassy and opinionated, but you don’t mind because she’s funny. It was created to fill the existing void of content directed to US Hispanic females whose dominant language is English, but who embrace their heritage and wish to stay in touch with their roots. Our message is about enhancing a Latina’s life and inspiring her by covering important lifestyle topics and amazing Latinas in a way that relates to her own personal experiences. Latinas in the US aren’t consuming their media on Telemundo, Univision or El Diario/La Prensa. They’re reading the the New York Times, Real Simple magazine, Daily Candy and The Economist. They’re listening to the BBC, NPR, and CNBC. They’re watching Desperate Housewives, Modern Family or Grey’s Anatomy. I ask, who is reaching them? Where is a lifestyle site on the Internet that is specifically for them them? There are only a few. And we’re one of answers.

NL:  I cannot agree more with you on those points.  We are an emerging generation of Latina women who are truly embracing it all — the past, our cultural journey, today and the future.  This is exactly why we created New Latina, to give presence and a voice to women like ourselves. In your opinion, how is today’s Latina different than her mother, or her mother’s generation.  What has not changed.

TANYA: Back in our abuelas time, a woman had specific roles they had to play. The gender roles were very defined and rarely did a Latina woman veer away from it, lest they be chastised or looked down upon by society.  During my mom’s generation, the gender roles began to bend and change.  My mother left the stifling grasp of her strict Catholic upbringing in the late 60’s, uprooted herself from Colombia against all odds and against the wishes of her parents and ventured to the US. Today’s modern Latina is breaking the mold. We’re redefining what Latinas are today.

LIZ: Right. We’re no longer the stereotype that the general media continues to perpetuate, i.e.,  Sofia Vergara sexy, feisty, loud-mouthed, opinionated Colombian character on Modern family. Us modern day Latinas are moving up the corporate ladders, we’re launching business, we’re still having families, but much later, and only after we’ve traveled the world, gotten our college degrees, and have had our fill of life and adventure. And no, not all of us love or even know how to cook or speak Spanish.  What hasn’t changed are the matter’s of our Latina hearts. We may be 1st, 2nd or 3rd generation Latinas, but we’re still close to our families, we enjoy our Latin food and music on occasion, and now and again we say words like No! or Dios Mio! when it’s appropriate.

NL:   Many of our readers are interested in creating their own businesses but might lack the information, resources or support to transform a business idea into a business.  What advice do you have for them?

TANYA: You can read as many books as want, take classes, and join business organizations, but nothing is really going to prepare you for what’s to come than just taking the plunge. I do recommend getting a mentor and building your network of people you can trust for advice. Also, emulate other successful entrepreneurs. But don’t suffer paralysis by over analysis. Sometimes you just have to jump in and learn by trial and error. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You’re going to make mistakes, so you might as well throw yourself in and learn as you go. And if you fail, so what. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back in the saddle. How many times did Thomas Edison fail with his invention of the light bulb? Thousand’s of times. He never gave up until he finally reached his goal.

NL:  How do you balance your career, family and your social life?  Is work/life balance one of the biggest challenges for modern Latinas?

TANYA: My biggest thing that I preach is squeaky clean time management. That is how I balance my life. I prioritize everything: who I’m going to see, what I’m going to work on, even when and if I’m going to go out. I play hard and work hard. Ignoring my texts and emails on my iPhone was a hard lesson to learn, but I trained myself to be present. If I chose to spend my time with somebody, I’m with them 100%. I’m actually very fortunate. My support system in my family comes mainly from strong Latinas who are entrepreneurs and overachievers themselves.

LIZ: I have to admit, this one has been more challenging for me. This is something that I am still learning to master, and thankfully, I have somebody who I can emulate. I do believe that work/life balance can be achieved, but it’s a little more challenging when you have your own company. What I’ve learned, is to prioritize and choose to do things that will have the most impact or that are important to me. My priority right now is to grow the companies I work for. I’m sure if I have a family, this will change, and I will seek more work/life balance. But for now, upward and onward with LaCosmpolatina!

NL:  Well, thank you for the opportunity to share about yourselves on New Latina, and all the best to both of you on living your best life!

Tanya Alvarez

A Miami native of Colombian descent, Tanya is an All-American girl with a Latina heart. After obtaining a BA in International Relations from Wellesley College, Tanya dove headfirst into the marketing world. She has since accumulated over 15 years of international and US experience, including serving as vice-president of three online companies. In 2004 Tanya founded her own advertising company, BlinkAds, whose mission is to serve the American, US Hispanic and Latin American markets with equal zest and commitment. She also co-founded La Cosmopolatina in 2010.

Lizbeth Cardozo

Lizbeth is a native of Chicago and a seasoned traveler whose love of words and adventure has landed her in various successful careers. A Journalism and Marketing double major from the University of Central Florida, Lizbeth has experience as a journalist, creative copywriter, advertising executive and sales professional. Her time working in Colombia instilled in her a passion to serve the US Hispanic and Latin American markets, which she gets to do daily in her role as Business Development Manager for BlinkAds and as co-founder of La Cosmopolatina.

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Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Dr. Perez-Litwin is the Founder & CEO of ELLA Leadership Institute, a multi-platform professional development organization designed to advance the careers and leadership of women. She's the creative force behind the LATINAS THINK BIG™ national tour, sponsored and live-streamed by Google.

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