The Spirit of the City of Lions


by Talia Rodriguez

I don’t think I ever fully believed in myself fully until I started writing this column. Honestly, I’ve spent most of my life scared of nothin. Writing I have gotten to know myself and my dreams again. As I started to follow another dream of forming my LLC (limited Liability Corporation) I reflected on the commonalities in my experience and in the experiences shared by some of the Latinaherstory alumni. It seemed – like life- being in business was harder – just because I was Latina.

I remember searching for Latina owned businesses to work with for Latinaherstory and it was hard. I realized what I was looking for didn’t exist: (1) a centralized listing of LATINA OWNED businesses (that was inclusive of at home or small niche businesses that are characteristic of our core economies of our community); and (2) a group of women that I shared common values and life experiences with that I could talk to about business. So late one night on our Latinaherstory page subtly I added a tab that read “Latina Business Directory”.

Turns out, It’s the only one in the state of New York. It’s the only page exclusively dedicated to Latina businesses in New York accompanied by private community that’s free. Its history ironically, 1 month in or so we had a gathering, we had 15 seats we sold 19 tickets, we outsold. We started a community digitally and that has grown into 40 plus Latina women and our allies. One of the women in attendance name was Stephannie Alcazar (two nn’s on purpose), a woman who brought the spirit of the city of lions (a nickname for Ponce) to the table.

Stephanie is the woman who will marry my two projects, who embodies the values that have propelled me forward, and a work ethic incomprehensible to even some of the toughest moms I know. Thus going forward our Latinaherstory features each month will be businesswoman listed on our directory. Each month we will marry our column with a podcast broadcasted on facebook that will bring our communities together and encourage others to learn about independent Latino owned papers and local journalism. We will ultimately form a fund to build a giving circle and issue microloans to our own members. Big dreams and I need big help, so again Stephannie.

In 200 words or so, she has the courage to believe in people more than they believe in themselves. Ella de Ponce, fuerte, elegante, inteligente, sensitiva, and easily one of the most generous people I have ever met. Spoiler alert, there’s a lot more to this amazing woman who also happens to be the proud Latina owner of “Wonderland’s Soothing Creations”. She will be everywhere for the month of May. Look for her interview in print in our papers, and if you want to catch a glimpse of her live join our Latinaherstory or LatinasinBusinessNY communities and view the first episode of our podcast.

The reason I chose to write about Stephannie, is not because she’s donating 40% of her profits to LatinasinBusinessNY and granting 10% off on her entire shop for the month of May for any purchases using the Promo Code: LIBNY716 or because she makes me feel like I can take over the world. Its because when you open yourself up to God’s love in the form of people it can be a very powerful blessing.

Even her “formation story” (the story of why you started your business) is inspirational. Stephanie’s motivation to start her business centers on her love for her special needs son and his sensitivity to harsh indigents. She started making soap as a mom (her favorite job). One of her greatest assets (admittingly) is her partner in life and in business Joseph Santiago, he suggested they start a business after Stephannie lost her job during Covid and she hasn’t looked back since.

Stephannie wakes at 5am and makes Latinaherstory everyday- support her like you do our column. Below is her full interview.

1. What advise do you have for other Latinx people who want their voices to be heard in their community?

I would say to them not to give up. To fight for what you want to achieve, it’s not about winning it’s about not giving up.

2. What is your theory on human potential?

The limit is the sky and people have already made it to the moon. I believe that everyone has potential but in order to use that potential they need to figure out what it is that they want to do and what they want to achieve.

3. What experience do you have as a businessperson?

As a business person some of the best experience I’ve had so far is that I’ve grown as a person and I never stop learning. Also, now I make plans- I try to be more organized and also I get to be more creative at the same time. I’ve learned to be more opened minded and I’ve learned to better manage my time.

4. How would you define a business person?

I believe a businessperson must be committed, decided, a person that can create his/her own path. A person that is willing to take the risk and the chance to achieve their goals.

5. Is there a local business person you look up to?

I look up to those local business that are still standing even when they’ve struggled to stay up and running but didn’t give up. I look up to those business owners that day to day fight hard for what they want and don’t give up and if they fall, they get up and come back stronger even if I don’t know them personally, I know they are out there in this region.

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.

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