I had very humble beginnings. When I was 14, I came to the US from Mexico and was raised by my mother and grandmother. I was the first in my family to graduate high school and go to college. But after college, I had a hard time holding down a job. I reached a point where I knew I was either going to be homeless or self-employed, so I decided to start my own business, but I didn’t know where to start.
I remember hearing about an organization called Mi Casa Resource Center that had a class on how to start your own business and I told myself “when I get some money together, I’m going to take that class.” In 1995 I finally enrolled in my first business class at Mi Casa. The class cost $14 per week and we were told not to miss a single class, particularly if the reason for missing it was the $14 fee. We were encouraged to pay what we could. I must admit that several times I didn’t have the $14, but when I could, I’d pay $20.
It was a wonderful class; not only did I learn practical advice on how to start and run a business, but I also received a support network I could talk to each week about any challenges I was facing. All of us believed in each other and we encouraged each other to follow our dreams.
I launched my wholesale sterling silver jewelry business, Renata Rubio, in 1996 with just $400. I import artisan-made jewelry from Taxco, Mexico, the silver capital of the world. I employ 16 silversmithing families in Taxco and I have developed close relationships with them over the years. Here in the US I sell my jewelry to stores all over the country and was recently featured in the catalog for the Georgia O’Keefe Museum.
When other entrepreneurs ask me for advice, I tell them what I learned on my first day of class: write down a list of why you want to start a business. Making money is not an answer – it can be part of your why, but you need to have a more personal reason. When it gets hard – and it will get hard – go back to your list and remember your why. For me, I wanted independence, and now I have that. I’ve been able to successfully run my own business for 22 years using what I learned at Mi Casa.
Learn more about Laura’s business by visiting her website.
Learn more about how Mi Casa can help you start or grow your business.