Starting any new venture in business takes energy, resources, time and patience. Minority business owners are often faced with additional barriers, such as acquiring capital, being viewed as legitimate among larger, more established businesses or having access to valuable mentors. We talk with entrepreneurs from diverse cultural backgrounds who share the challenges they encountered when first getting started, the advice they have for other minority business owners and the ways in which they’re serving as mentors and giving back to their communities.
Husband and wife legal team John Gardner and Radlyn Mendoza work together to help others through law, and give back to the community through their work. Mendoza, whose parents immigrated from the Philippines and grew up in Ocean View, knew early on that she wanted to be an attorney so she could help others, as she does now with immigration law and domestic relations.
As president of Tactical Office Solutions, Pablo Gonzalez began the commercial furniture dealership in a humble manner, working in a room over a garage and spending about 18 months knocking on doors before the company landed its first contract. Now, Gonzalez supplies companies from small to large across Coastal Virginia, Washington, D.C. and internationally with interior work including furniture, flooring, window treatments and more.
Sabrosa Foods in Norfolk began as a small salsa foods start-up and has grown to a multi-million dollar corporation, all with owner Duane Thompson. Having a limited budget for resources and dealing with the difficulty of not having access to capital as a minority business, Thompson pushed forth with his entrepreneurship, taking leaps to achieve success.
As owner of the online fashion boutique Ivy Glam, Ivy Do aims to empower women with her work ethic and help them feel confident while looking their best. As a Virginia Beach native who immigrated to the United States from Vietnam with her family at the age of 11, she credits her parents for developing her own strength and spirit that has helped her grow her business.
Hamilton Perkins is the founder of The Hamilton Perkins Collection, a socially conscious brand of designer bags that uses repurposed vinyl billboards and recycled plastic bottles to prevent wasted materials from ending up in the ocean. The Collection has also helped create jobs for people in developing countries through a partnership with Thread International.