#SWAAYthenarrative

What Being a Woman Has Taught Me About Being a Business Leader

Business

I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a daughter. These things do not define me, but refine me. These roles make me a better person. The responsibilities associated with these roles require that I be a leader and innovator. The strength and knowledge I've gained from performing these responsibilities have helped me successfully launch a new and exciting business in a highly competitive and male dominant industry.


I'm not a health nut, but I can't ignore the news about pesticide risks. As a mother, I see it as my duty to protect my family from anything that may bring them harm. As a member of the same small community for my entire life, I also care deeply about the health and well-being of all the people around me. The area that we live in tests high for nitrates in the water due to farm runoff. We made a significant investment in water purification systems in our home and places of business, so that I know my family and customers - both local and national - have the healthiest option.

When I was advised that I needed to spray the inside of our local restaurant once a month for insects… I cringed! I eat there. My family eats there. Thousands of other people eat there. I don't want a mystery chemical sprayed where food is stored, prepared and served! I quickly sought a solution. Luckily, it wasn't far away. Along with our small restaurant, our family has always been in the limestone business. We were able to naturally convert the strongest type of limestone, hydrated lime, into a safe form that still dehydrated and repelled insects. Unlike, the normal hydrated lime, or barn lime you've always been able to find in stores, our new limestone based product is both safe and non-caustic to humans. So, with my sister's support, we started our business.

We made it for ourselves and anyone else who was in need of a pesticide alternative. We researched, built our plant, and hit the market. First Saturday Lime was made to be applied once a month, on the “First Saturday" of the month. We offer a subscription service as well as fun giveaways and reminders on the first Saturday of every month. The demand for our product grew exponentially.

Through production, study, and customer interaction, we discovered this all-natural product, due to its harmless nature, had a host of other uses!

After some student testing, we found that it qualifies as a sanitizer, and has now taken off with the farming community to treat chicken coops and horse stalls for bacteria.

It is also used as algae and mosquito prevention in standing water. It can also be used as a chalk paint. A few customers used First Saturday Lime to successfully deodorize some stinky situations and now it is widely used for just that. The list of uses keeps growing.

I mentioned my sister earlier, but what I said wasn't enough… not nearly enough. I wouldn't have started this business without her. She is my driving force and my strongest ally. We are highly critical of each other's work, but we complement each other well, and together we've built and continue to grow a company in which we are both extremely proud of. We have both learned to not take anything personally. We accept feedback and step in when one or the other needs help. When you're related, it's often better to keep family matters separate from business matters. But on the other hand, I consider the other employees in our privately owned businesses as family. We care about each other. We care about the product. We care about our customers. We care about the world!

I don't know what it's like to be a white man… or African American, or Mexican, or homosexual or transsexual, and so on, but I do know what it's like to be a woman. Although I do feel very fortunate, I can admit that at times things have been tough and seemed unfair. Ok, they were definitely unfair. But, as I often tell my children, “That's life!" It has made me who I am, and I see myself as strong. Sometimes, I imagine trading it for the ability to pee standing up. Oh, to be able to take a 5 minutes shower! And it would be nice to know I'm not being judged differently because I'm wearing a dress instead of a suit. However, it doesn't take much consideration to know that I would never make that trade.

The lawn and garden industry may be historically male dominant, but the purchasing power of customers has become more and more female-driven. As women working in the industry, we recognized, respected and most importantly related to what women want. It turns out that many men want the same thing. They've just been doing it the same way too long without any alternatives.

We were happy to shake things up! One thing I have learned, male or female, is don't be afraid to accept help. Also, keep close the important things in life. Don't let the things that can't be replaced slip away. Choose your time wisely. It may be fun to “network" but make sure it's with people who value your time as much as you do. Know your audience, recognize the situation, and always act accordingly. Starting a business comes with a series of unknowns, but always maintain your composure and confidence when it counts most. It should be fun, but it's still serious business. You invest so much time and money, don't let an opportunity to impress slip through your fingers.

Communication is key. New ideas and exponential amounts of new tasks are common occurrences that must be delegated in a startup business, and as Owner and CEO, I often forget people can't read my mind. Furthermore, the more brains, the better. Yes, two are better than one, but you don't have to stop there. Let as many people as you trust critique, proof, edit and contribute to everything you can. My brain is wired for engineering and math. So, I get as many eyes on things as I can before hitting send. For example, I consulted with my sister on the content of this article. Also, this would also be a good time to thank my wonderful husband for proofreading the final product. (Editor's note: Her husband is happy to help and is a very lucky man.)

I try to live with no excuses. For anything. Stepping on toes rarely breaks bones. You have to open some doors yourself. In the hectic pace of a startup company that is full of passionate people, it's easy to overreact and lose one's temper. But I try to see all people for who they are. I try not to judge. The only thing I care about is treating people kindly. I care about caring. If what you believe and want to do doesn't hurt others, I support you and your decisions. I am no better than anyone else. I do, however, work very hard.

We created First Saturday Lime to help people, to protect children and animals, and to provide safe alternatives to other people who care. It brings me joy to contribute something that is safe for the environment when the alternatives can be detrimental. Maybe it's that sense of accomplishment that compels me to move forward. Maybe that's selfish. But if that's my downside, then I will take it.

3 Min Read
Career

Black LGBTQ Woman Powerhouse Launches Vegan Cosmetics Line

I am a proud Black business owner carrying a line of lip colors for the woman who wants to shine. At Vatarie Cosmetics you can find cruelty-free and vegan lip care products, including clear lip gloss and liquid matte lipsticks. The line is still under development, so there are more products in the making that you'll hear more about soon!

My products are high-quality and it is my dream to take my brand into high-end storefronts across the nation and even across the globe.

About Leticia

I have worked my way into my entrepreneurial career as I did not come from money. The goal of my cosmetic line is to bring excitement to everyone who tries the line. My products are high-quality and it is my dream to take my brand into high-end storefronts across the nation and even across the globe. I believe that with added makeup and a good set of threads, anybody can confidently face the world. I am a proud and firm supporter of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and a proud member and supporter of the LGBTQIA community.

There have been plenty of hardships that I have had to face throughout my entire life, the most recent being the recent death of my father who passed far too soon. I have never allowed these hardships to deter me, and won't start now. I will continue to progress and work hard to build my business, knowing that this is what my father would have wanted.

About the Vatarie Line: What It's All About

Upon launching the line, I had the mission of inspiring every human to find their inner beauty and to have fun along the way. With this in mind, my products are designed for people of all genders, races, religions, and creeds. The Vatarie line will have more to offer customers very soon as I am continually working on developing products and expanding the line. In addition to the lip colors currently offered, the line will soon include highlighters, eyeshadows, and new lip gloss additions.

I believe that no one needs makeup to validate themselves, and we are all beautiful on our own. I do believe, though, that makeup can make life a lot more fun. Now more than ever we are living in a world where there is so much sadness and darkness. Sometimes all we need to change our moods and get away from that darkness is something to help us feel better and more vibrant — this is where a pop of makeup and a well put together outfit can really make an impact.

Now more than ever we are living in a world where there is so much sadness and darkness.

I encourage everybody to embrace their inner beauty and inner style, and express themselves no matter what. My line of products is inspired by high fashion and designed to make a bold statement. The running theme across my products is empowerment at every stage and level. I create products that make my customers feel happy, and I ensure I am happy myself with my products before I release every single one. There is no place for cutting corners as I believe in producing the highest quality product.

I bring my sense of humor and quirky personality into my products and you can see this in the names of each item. Take the lip color "Blood Money," which signifies all the money, tears, sweat, and yes, blood that was put into the brand. Let me tell you, it was hard work, and it still is hard work, but at the end of the day, it fulfills me to know the type of quality I am providing. It gives me great pride to create a line of legendary products that will positively affect someone and bring them to a place of self-love and acceptance.

About the Past that Gives My Business Meaning

I have struggled over the years with mental abuse that has left me feeling as if "I wasn't enough." Added to that, being a Black woman in an industry that is predominantly dominated by other races, I had to work harder to get to where I am today.

Coming from a broken home, my family struggled with addiction, making my entire childhood a miserable nightmare. My mother abandoned us as she was being physically abused, and it was up to us the kids to do everything necessary to take care of the home and each other. We eventually ended up living with my grandmother in Miami, Florida. At a very young age, I had to endure physical and mental abuse and was locked up. At the age of 22, I lost my younger sister to gun violence and found myself raising her one-year-old son as my own.

Being a Black woman in an industry that is predominantly dominated by other races, I had to work harder to get to where I am today.

While my past was a rough one, it is what has made me the strong, independent, and vibrant woman I am today. That woman strives to be her best every day and works tirelessly to provide a line of only the best cosmetics products. I couldn't see this while I was living through those bad situations and struggling to grow up, but I can look back and see how I was made more resilient because of my hardships.

As I grieve over my father's recent passing, I become stronger. It is this added personal strength that will push me forward in everything I do and will be reflected in my work ethic and in the development of new products for my Vatarie line of cosmetics.