Diana Diaz founded the Goddess Mercado Boutique that brings together local Latina creators and entrepreneurs to a pink shop in the very El Sereno neighborhood where she grew up.
“I wanted to create a handbag that was more representative of me and the women that I love,” Diaz said.
It is here she has Mexichic Crafts, her line of handmade leather luxury bags. She says she learned the art of sewing from her immigrant father.
"My dad taught me had to sew. We used to dumpster dive at one of the factories that he worked at for beautiful tapestries and I would construct these beautiful purses with tassels,” she said.
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She now works with family-owned tool specialists and has turned her passion into a business, but the journey here has not been easy, and she soon found she needed help.
That’s when she connected with Carolina Martinez from CAMEO, California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity.
“We are a statewide network of business resource partners providing technical assistance or capital to underserved small businesses,” Martinez, CAMEO CEO, said.
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Martinez runs the statewide micro-business network made up of over 375 organizations which serves some 150 thousand small businesses
“We focus on the very small businesses which are the ones with up to five employees. but in los angeles particularly we do have a significant amount of Latino owned businesses, Asian owned businesses,” she said.
“One of the things in California and in Los Angeles is we are very fortunate to have a very robust ecosystem of support and what that means is there are several nonprofit organizations providing either free or very low-cost services to the small businesses,” she added.
Diaz says she was able to find assistance through these connections.
“I found a couple of sponsors including BELLA and Rocio Flores who is creating a directory of small businesswomen from the community ...and elevate each other,” Diaz said.
It is in this community, Diana says, she can continue to expand her shop and her monthly Goddess Mercado and Queer Mercado events in East Los Angeles where even more artists can showcase their works.
“I tell the women I challenge you if you crochet, if you sew, if you cook, if you cut hair if you are a stylist, if you have a craft start practicing and reach out to your family, to your friends, to your coworkers, your inner circle and when you confidence, when you get strength, when you get practice, then you join a bigger network,” Diaz said.
That network could include CAMEO and local neighbors. Martinez says anyone can contribute to the success of small businesses.
She says it comes down to the five C’s and what each of us could give to a local entrepreneur: coaching, capital, connection, climate and culture.
The latter relates to how friendly communities are to frequenting small businesses.