The Bronx Latina Entrepreneurs Panel

By Elizabeth Duluc

The Latinx Student Alliance at Lehman College welcomed Latina female entrepreneurs to speak to students, staff and the community about how they incorporate their heritage into their businesses October 10. In the panel discussion, each described how they were able to push through societal obstacles and bring awareness to their community.

Panelist Yajaira Saavedra is a community activist and co-owner of La Morada Restaurant, which is located in the South Bronx. Born in Mexico, Saavedra invites community members to watch independent films and cooking demos in community centers such as the New York Botanical Garden. Besides the Oaxacan cuisine served at the restaurant, you can also find a lending library that encourages use, with poets in residence.

“I really loved that I got to hear their stories and what they’ve been through,” said Manuel Nunez, a student at Lehman College. “As a Hispanic man it was nice to hear how these women are pushing through and making sure their community is also a part of that.”

Panelist Ramona Ferreyra is the founder of Ojala Threads, a baby clothing startup that is inspired by Hispanic heritage. The baby bodysuits feature symbols from the Taino, indigenous people from the Caribbean, that represent water, a swaddled baby, moon goddess and many more. Why babies? The company web site explains. “At Ojala Threads we understand that what our babies wear tell the world who they are, before they can speak. We don’t take this lightly. Our designs proudly reflect our Hispanic heritage and create the space for conversations inspired by them.” Ferreyra thought of the company idea after her nephew Gadiel was sick in the hospital. She knew he would get better but she just wanted to tell him everything about his heritage.

“I thought it was inspiring, powerful to see people who stand up for their community regardless of their US citizenship status,” said Lehman student Dania Miguel. “I don’t see people,  undocumented activists, who are outspoken because they would be putting themselves in danger.  It was really empowering as women of color and student.”

Panelist Maribel Gonzalez is owner of South of France, located in the Bronx. The restaurant serves Puerto Rican cocktails and dishes. Gonzalez, Saavedra and Ferreyra all use their businesses to advocate for the Latino community. Gonzalez’s restaurant is regularly used for fundraising events, most recently an event to fundraise for Puerto Rico.



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