Have I ever imagined to be called one of the Most Succesful Peruvian Women of 2013 by the Embassy of Peru in the United States? NO, I have never imagined receiving this recognition.
When growing up, I was not even in the top percentile of students in the classroom. I was an average student with many conduct problems. Why? Because I always chose to do fair things and I would fight with anyone, saying things out loud whenever I needed to. I was always adventurous, outgoing, funny and extremely friendly. Perhaps without noticing it, I was a leader at an early age. I was more practical than theoretical. I couldn’t sit still for long hours through a class, which is why I always sat in the first row. I still can’t sit quietly through a three hour movie…OH NO! Anyway, let me continue sharing with you how I received this wonderful news.
One afternoon, I was sitting quietly working in my studio and I got a phone call from Ms. Flor Diaz, Cultural Attaché of the Embassy of Peru. She said, “Evelyn I have to give you some good news. After a tedious evaluation of the many Peruvian women-owned businesses in the U.S., you have been chosen to receive the 2013 Successful Woman of the Year Award.” She continued explaining things, but I couldn’t listen anymore! All I heard was “Successful Woman of the Year Award.” I was in AWE, I couldn’t believe it. Tears were coming out and I got goosebumps. I said, “Well I look forward to getting more details and reading the letter they are going to send to me.” The next day, I got the letter and I was still in AWE.
For those who don’t know much about my story, I came to this country on March 20th, 2003, exactly 10 years ago after marrying my husband. It is all his fault…LOL.
A year later, we launched Evelyn Brooks Designs, and here we are, still in business. I have learned a lot and still have A LOT to learn. One of the many things I have learned is that you have to persevere, knock on many doors, speak proper English and have a good network of people that can help you and your business. Everything we have done for my business I have learned from ground zero. I always say, “If my business was based in Peru, I would have done it in record time because I know many people there.” Besides, I would have helped my father’s jewelry business that has been active for over 50 years. However, here in the United States, I didn’t know anybody when I started, and trust me, it is all about networking and the ability to develop yourself as an entrepreneur.
I was recently talking to the President of the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce. She said something very truthful:
“Many people want to be entrepreneurs or even call themselves entrepreneurs, but along the way, they get tired and leave what they started. Some want to know exactly how to succeed and only those committed to success are the ones that will keep moving forward. They must know that failure is sometimes part of success.”
I’ve had many experiences throughout the nine years of Evelyn Brooks Designs. But you know what I have learned over the course of those years? Working for the airline industry helped me learn that when you are going through a stressful situation, yelling or screaming is not going to help. For example, raising your voice at the airport doesn’t help after missing your flight, because you were late or because of bad weather, or even if the flight was oversold. Likewise, it doesn’t even help if you’ve waited 12 hours for a standby ticket only to learn no seat is available. While those situations are frustrating, it helps to understand that IT IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. I have learned to take deep breaths, remain calm and continue looking for answers and solutions.
I must say this, I cannot work with people who are not problem solvers. I have learned that if I make a mistake, what I have to do is immediately look for solutions, no time to waste.
Going back to the beginnings of Evelyn Brooks Designs, I didn’t have the network of people that I needed to take my business to where it needed to go. Little by little, I was meeting different organizations that helped me, including Empowered Women International, The Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce, The National Hispana Leadership Institute, The Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber or Commerce, Montgomery College, The Washington Center and Toro Mata among others.
I think that in DC or in any part of the world, if you know the right people, you can accomplish anything in no time. I feel that in DC the movers and shakers are actually watching you. But they won’t tell you. They just observe quietly what you are doing. And they know which players are professional and which are not.
I will keep saying THANK YOU VERY MUCH to those of you who are part of Evelyn Brooks Designs and who have helped us stay in business for the past nine years.