Alumni Spotlight

Wendy Barba ’02 and Valentina Izarra ’02 Strive to Uplift the Latina Community

Wendy Barba ’02 and Valentina Izarra ’02 are determined to live full and passionate lives. Together, these best friends are working to inspire and empower other Latinas to live their greatest lives, both personally and professionally. Through original, multi-media content packed with personality, Wendy and Valentina have created a platform for women to connect, discuss, learn and grow together free from gossip or negativity.

Tell us about your company.

Mamas Con Ganas LLC was founded by Valentina Izarra and Wendy Barba. The mission of Mamas Con Ganas is to motivate, uplift and empower Latinas by providing content that is positive, inspiring and educational.

According to Hispantelligence, the Hispanic female population in the U.S will reach 51 million by 2050 (an increase of 194% from 2000). Apart from the Latino population growth, there is also a Latino media gap. Did you know that from 2000-2010 the rate of media participation behind and in front of the camera stayed stagnant, whereas the Latino population grew by 43%?

We created Mamas Con Ganas, a digital media company, as our way to shorten that gap by providing much-needed inspirational content for Latinas. We feel there is a need to help Latinas grow and prosper in all aspects of their lives.

We developed five categories under the Mamas Con Ganas brand – Self-Improvement, Career Development, Wining & Dining, Beauty & Fashion and Motherhood. In our first year, we have launched two of the five categories:

Self-Improvement: the core brand of Mamas Con Ganas that offers motivational and self-help tips to create a fulfilling life.

Career Development: career and professional development tips for the success of the working Latina.

untitledWhat advice can you share with current students wanting to create their own company?

Wendy: My advice is something I came across one day while reading Sir Richard Branson’s blog: “Create a company that wants to turn people into job creators… a business with an emphasis on people, planet, and profit.” Furthermore, while you need to make sure you are passionate about your product or service, you also need to make sure it will be a sustainable business model.

Valentina: First, find mentors who can help you. They will be your greatest assets because they can help you find answers to the many questions you may be having. Second, attend summits and workshops where you can meet the people in your industry so you can network and start building key relationships. Third, don’t go into a line of business simply because you think it will bring you a lot of money. Remember, this business will occupy a significant part of your life so you have to be passionate about the product or service you will be providing. Otherwise, it will burn you out.

What resources have helped you as you build your company?

Wendy: There are countless resources I consult daily. One of my favorite books is Jack Welch’s The GE Way. In it, he emphasizes the importance of knowing your bottom line, measuring your growth and failures thru Six Sigma, and discovering ways to save money. I also read Immelt’s GE annual reports and listen to his playbook pitch yearly. These are public and made available thru GE’s website. Immelt talks about the importance of acting locally and growing organically in the digital industry. Finally, I follow Sir Richard Branson on social media and habitually read his blog.

Valentina: Google and YouTube! There are endless resources available online nowadays. There are online business plans catered to all types of industries and all kinds of videos that will teach you just about anything.

Since starting your business venture, what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

Wendy: I’ve learned to be patient, flexible and courageous. There is no perfect formula for starting your own venture and every day brings a different challenge. Be open minded and continuously search for innovative solutions. Finally, don’t be afraid to take action. Trust your gut, your capabilities and do it Con Ganas!

Valentina: The biggest lesson I’ve learned is not to be so hard on myself. It can be very overwhelming and at first I wanted to go a million miles an hour. Over the course of several months, I realized it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Also, it’s been a huge learning curve. I’ve learned about things I never even knew I would learn about. Acquiring these new skill sets has been very rewarding.

Wendy and Valentina with FIU ladies from Annual Giving and Alumni Relations!
                    Wendy and Valentina with the ladies of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations. Go FIU!

Connect with Wendy and Valentina on all social media platforms @mamasconganas.

You can also visit their blog: Watch their webisodes on YouTube or Daily Motion, plus listen to their Podcast channel, Oye Latina.

Wendy and Valentina welcome feedback to grow and understand the needs of their fans. Webisodes are available in Spanglish and Spanish. Don’t be a mama con drama. Let’s be Mamas Con Ganas!

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