InspireHer brings female entrepreneurs together to inspire

EL CENTRO – During the Imperial Valley Business Showcase, InspireHer Edition, more than 72 local women-owned businesses registered to meet at the Martin Luther King Jr. Sports pavilion during an inspiring event on Thursday evening, June 13.

“We wanted to put women-owned businesses in the spotlight. This is the first time we are doing the Imperial Valley Business Showcase after 2020. It’s been a while, but this will be a series of exhibits; we will have another one in July and the third in August,” said Karen Montano, Chief Operating Officer of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Brawley.

Montano said that by being in the position she is in the room, she feels like she can inspire other women and give them the tools they need to succeed in their businesses.

“That is the House’s main goal, and by being in this position, I want to help achieve that,” Montano said.

The Brawley Chamber, along with the Imperial Valley Joint Chambers of Commerce, coordinated the showcase, which featured such diverse businesses as food vendors, beauty services, wedding officiants, coffee vendors, real estate agents, handmade jewelry and more.

Karen Montano, Chief Operating Officer of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Brawley, said: “We wanted to highlight women-owned businesses. This is the first time we are doing the Imperial Valley Business Showcase after 2020. It has been a while. but this will be a series of exhibits. The Imperial Valley Business Showcase, InspireHer Edition was a production of the Brawley Room. | YESENIA AMAVISCA PHOTO

A local mariachi attended the event and provided live music for the participants and the audience. The chamber also held raffles with prizes provided by various local business owners.

Brawley Chamber officials say they hope to make the female-focused showcase an annual event and that more women-owned businesses will participate next year.

Elena Ramirez of Vibras Healthy Nutrition was one of many business owners who attended the event. Her business is located at 136 North Plaza in Brawley, where she sells smoothies, healthy meal replacements, natural energy drinks and other health-related items.

“The best thing about my company is that I can help people. I like it when my regular customers come to me and say that they feel good and that they feel better after coming to me for healthy drinks. I am so excited to be at this event, it is amazing and I love seeing all the businesswomen here,” said Ramirez.

Angela Ortiz, owner of Inktensive Beauty, is a local permanent makeup artist based in El Centro.

“I love helping women save time with their makeup routines in the morning. I was inspired to open this business to help women feel better about themselves and to offer them a low-maintenance permanent makeup service,” Ortiz said.

“It’s very inspiring to be around many women who own their own businesses because it shows that we can support each other and grow together as a community and as business owners,” Ortiz said of the event.

Angelica Felix Sandoval, owner of Lucas JS Barn, sells handmade western clothing and her business is located in Brawley.

“I love boots and everything that has to do with western. I decided to start the process of opening my business when my fifth child was born. He was my first son and I named him Lucas and I decided to name my company after him, selling cowboy and cowgirl clothing,” said Felix Sandoval.

“I feel super happy to be here at this event. I identify with each of these strong, hardworking women who don’t give up and have thousands of dreams to fulfill. This is my place where I want to be and where I belong,” she said.

Cynthia Mesa, owner of 11 Crew, specializes in embroidery and custom clothing and is based in Imperial.

“I started my company in 2021 in the middle of the corona crisis. I’ve always wanted to have a business. I love making things and that’s how we started,” Mesa said.

She stated that her company’s name came from an inside joke among her and her friends. “We saw a friend on the side of the road and said, ‘Hey, why do you look like an 11’ and they burst out laughing, so we went with it,” Mesa said.

“It’s very empowering to be at this event because we don’t really see women-based businesses in the Valley, and you really don’t know who’s out there. It’s great to get this group of women together and see what people are doing,” she said.

Irma Prado Guttierez, brand partner of Think Goodness, sells custom jewelry, vegan cosmetics and skin care.

Lorena Perez Marron of Agustina’s Jewelry poses for a photo from behind her booth at the Imperial Valley Business Showcase, InspireHer Edition at the Martin Luther King Jr. Sports pavilion in El Centro on Thursday evening, June 13. | YESENIA AMAVISCA PHOTO

“I love doing this, I really enjoy it and it gives me more time to spend with my husband, for whom I am a full-time carer. This is a business that I can do on the side,” said Prado Guttierez.

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“The Think Goodness company’s mission is to be a force for good and to empower people. It’s just something our community needs, we need more acts of kindness, more inspiration and a lot of positivity. I really feel like we can all make an impact on our community and just be there for each other,” said Prado Guttierez.

“I love being here with all these other women, I love that we can all share our businesses together and all the different things we have to offer our community, and it gives us something good to do and help take care of our community,” she said.

Patty Diaz, owner of Divinne Designs, creates floral arrangements for all occasions in Brawley and El Centro and she is also a full-time registered nurse at Heart and Hand Assisted Living.

“I’ve arranged flowers for family and friends over the years and they always said to me ‘you should start your own business’ and one day I decided I wanted to do it and I’m really enjoying it. Diaz said.

Speaking about the event, Diaz said: “Women helping women and supporting each other is huge. It’s critical to have a support system, so this is a great opportunity for new businesses to connect and meet lots of other women who are just starting out, and we can support each other.”

Ashley Codding, owner of Coping with Codding, is a licensed marriage and family therapist who opened her own therapy business in February.

“I believe in accessible mental health care and I wanted to bring that to the Valley. I offer individual, family and couples therapy and I accept a variety of insurance and cash payments,” said Codding.

“It is so inspiring to be at this event, I could cry,” Codding said.