A 3rd Generation Buffalo Latina


by Talia Rodríguez

They are going to tell you; you can’t do it. They told Winnifer that. And see the thing is, I didn’t even have to ask her. I knew, because, they told me that too. Winnifer Guerrero, owner of Elevate Permanent Makeup Studio in Buffalo, New York, realized, what I did. If you try you can’t fail. Physics says energy can be transformed from one form to another but can be neither created nor destroyed. Experiencing the forward motion of trying is success. And you earn it, to a higher degree than those standing still will ever know. Never not in motion, Latina women, statistically, have a better chance at cleaning a board room then ever sitting at the table in one.

Women like Winnifer will change that. Kind, hilarious, and inward she is constantly evolving her energy and craft. Winnifer has the skill of seeing people’s beauty stronger than they could ever see it for themselves. Her bright smile is one of a solider, though. Quietly fighting centuries of economic exclusion and degradation of her demographic in the hands of history. All competitors in capitalism are made equal but not with equal access to power. Constantly fighting for a seat at the table, (we build and clean), Latinas, universally, were fighting for voting suffrage until 1942, in the case of the Dominican Republic.

Undervaluation is a good term to describe the Latina state in economic politics. A valuation is the estimate of somethings worth. Demonstrably, Latinas make 67 Cents to every $1.00 dollar a non Latinx white man makes. Knowing that Winnifer doubled up and invested in herself. She is brave, as Latinas are often excluded from systems of capital that finance business. Despite that, we as an economic community, are working to address the apparent opportunity gap, specifically when doing business with the government. For example, the creation of the MWBE Classification- “Minority Women Business Enterprise”, a classification certain kind of Latino businesses can apply for, which benefits our businesses and the people/organizations that help us grow.

Winnifer Guerrero is (a 3rd gen Buffalo- Beat the Odds- Businessperson) and she and the incoming generation of businesspeople are going to change the way people do business forever- and in some ways they already have. The takeaway? Never count anyone out in capitalism, not because they are too young or too inexperienced or under-resourced or whatever descriptor you want to use in place of “young” and “black/brown”. Never. Latinas will find a way.

And for those of us who have the “privilege” to have a “seat” at the table we (clean/build), may our presence reflect our intolerance for the language of sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, ageism, racism, patriarchy and classism. We are success.

Read Winnifer’s interview bellow and examine the perspective of the new CEOs of tomorrow/today.

  1. Where were you born and raised? What values were taught in your home? – I was born in Brooklyn NY and came to Buffalo when I was 11 years old. I am blessed to have been rooted with values of integrity, humility and compassion.
  1. What was your experience as a student? – As a student I always found myself trying to find new ways to connect with my peers and build connections with people.
  1. When did you start working and what was your first/favorite job? – My first job was washing hair and doing roller sets at my mother’s salon when I was 15 years old, I was her “little helper”. I always found ways to make money around the shop. As her clients sat under the dryer, I would offer to paint their toes and do designs for $5. (lol) I knew I wanted to work with my hands as soon as I realized I had the gift of helping other women feel beautiful.
  1. What was the moment you were inspired to take full control of your future? – When I was 19 years old, I had my first baby. It was then when I had realized I had to work for something greater, I finished beauty school and took my craft very seriously. That’s when I started to grow my own clientele as a hair stylist and makeup artist.
  1. What advice do you have for other Latinx people who want their voices to be heard in the community? – We all have the gift to be able to inspire and cause a butterfly effect in this community. To inspire and be heard from my experience, you must find what you believe in and really go hard for it. Connecting with other people from our community and sharing your views on what you stand for can really go a long way.
  1. What is your theory on human potential? – I believe humans have unlimited potential. That’s why it’s important to feed your mind positive thoughts to develop unlimited beliefs about yourself and your potential.
  1. What is your opinion on the fact that Latina women are the most under paid demographic in the United States? – The fact that Latina women are the most under paid should be fuel for us to continue to open our own businesses and create opportunities for each other.
  1. What fuels your ambition? – Multiple factors fuel my ambition, family, my heritage and the women that look up to me fuel my ambition. I want to be able to break the curses that have been subconsciously feed into us. That “we are not worthy of a certain level of success” or that we have to “work for somebody else in order to create something stable for our families”.
  1. Who do you admire as a leader? – Anyone that beats the odds in my eyes is a leader. I admire those who speak their truth and continue to enforce what they believe in to empower others.
  1. What is your vision for your business? – My Husband, David Muniz, and I, just opened our new business together called ELEVATE PERMANENT MAKEUP STUDIO LLC in 207 Niagara Street. This place is very special to us because it’s the same location my mother opened her shop 10 years ago and it’s also my grandfather’s building. Our vision is to continue to service our clients with quality service and eventually expand our team. I will also start my permanent makeup courses this year to be able to help others get a head start in this career by sharing all of my knowledge in hopes to help develop more entrepreneurs in our city.
  1. What was the hardest part about starting your business? – Hardest barrier when starting my business was actually starting. Sometimes we doubt ourselves and get scared when making a big move but once you start things start to fall into place.

Talia Rodriguez is a bi-racial, bi-cultural, and bi-lingual Latina from Buffalo. Ms. Rodriguez’s mission is to write about Latina’s, who have shaped the face of our city and our region. It is Ms. Rodriguez’s believes that our own people should inspire us and in telling our collective stories, we push our community forward. Ms. Rodriguez is a community advocate and organizer. She is a 5th generation West Sider, a graduate of SUNY Buffalo Law School, and an avid baseball fan. She lives on the West Side with her young son A.J… Ms. Rodriguez sits on the board of several organizations including the Belle Center, where she attended daycare. Ms. Rodriguez loves art, music, food, and her neighbors.

Women eyebrows’ photo by Maksim Goncharenok from Pexels

Photos of Talia and Winnifer provided by Talia Rodriguez

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