Staying Fit The United States has nearly 5 million Hispanic-owned businesses that inject $800 billion into the country’s economy each year. One of every four new businesses is started by a Latino or Latina entrepreneur, as revealed recently by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month. Of these, more than 300,000 Hispanic-led businesses have at least one employee in addition to the owner. In all, they employ 3 million workers with $100 billion in annual payroll. Join AARP for $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal. Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine . The trend indicates Latino-owned businesses will continue to grow at an explosive pace. A 2021 report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee noted that the number of Hispanic-owned businesses grew 34 percent in the 10 years before the pandemic, compared with a growth of 1 percent in the same time frame for businesses owned by non-Latinos. SBA data shows that, of the total 33.2 million small businesses in the country in 2022, 43.2 percent were owned by women, and 13.8 percent were owned by Latinos. To put a face on these statistics, we profile three Latina entrepreneurs who have overcome obstacles to rank among the best in their respective professions. Here are their stories: Ingrid Tejeda: A 360-degree view of the fashion world Ingrid Tejeda: A 360-degree view of the fashion world
Ingrid Tejeda, 56, is known on social media as the mother of influencer, comedian and content creator LeJuan James. But in her day-to-day life, she plays roles ranging from business owner to fashion designer, communicator, influencer and educator. This Dominican entrepreneur grew up behind the counter. Her mother was a seamstress by trade who ran multiple fashion-related businesses in her native Dominican Republic. So, from the time she was a girl, Tejeda learned how to deal with customers, how to handle garments and how to manage the books. At 18, she completed an associate degree in accounting and decided to move to Puerto Rico to start her own business. “I ran a business for 16 years in Puerto Rico. My business with the public was always about clothing, covering many areas of the fashion world and on an independent basis,” Tejeda says. “I never stopped studying. I completed a bilingual administrative assistant program to improve my English while I continued to run my business. I looked after my business mainly in the afternoons. I would work in the Department of Education in the morning, then at the boutique in the afternoon, and I would go to school at night. I was like a locomotive engine,” she remembers, underscoring she is not afraid to work hard. She also studied cosmetology, which led her to work for González Padín, the first department store chain in Puerto Rico. She did similar work in Boston, where she lived when her son LeJuan was born. In 1996, Tejeda and her husband, Juan Atiles, decided to move to Orlando, Florida, to provide a better future for their three children. It’s been 19 years since she opened Ingrid Tu Variedad, Boutique in Kissimmee, Florida, where she sells clothing for all occasions but specializes in quinceañera and wedding dresses. Four years after opening her boutique, Tejeda founded Images Development, a modeling school that she manages, which has given her the opportunity to work with young people — some as young as 5 — and their families.