What the American Dream Means to Hispanic Small Business Owners

What the American Dream Means to Hispanic Small Business Owners

by Julie Schwietert Collazo , October 2019

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Despite our turbulent political climate, immigrants continue to prove that the American dream is alive and well. More, Hispanic small business owners are seizing opportunity and creating their businesses like never before. The result is an increased standard of living, a steadfast hope in the future, and a desire to see their children surpass even their own accomplishments—in short, the American dream.

What the American Dream Means to Hispanic Small Business Owners

Holly Smith, a second-generation Latina, and co-founder of the event management software company, Curate, illustrates that vision. To her, the American dream is, "the ability to pursue a better tomorrow, even if you may never see the greatness of it yourself."

An Immigrant's Story

Smith, whose grandmother came to the United States as a young child, says that, despite obstacles and challenges, her family's resiliency led them to pursue their version of the American dream. Their goals were to become more educated than earlier generations in their family, build up savings, and launch businesses. Her family members' efforts, including failures, inspired Smith and instilled in her the confidence to co-found her own company.

"The American dream is the thing that drove my great grandparents, my grandma, my dad, and, now, me," she says. "Because of their hard work and resilient spirit, I was positioned to co-found a tech company that's making a huge difference in the lives of event professionals around the world."

The American Dream Today

Smith isn't alone. Many Hispanic small business owners are still motivated by the idea of the American dream. One of them is Gisela Rocha Arroyo, owner of UnTamed Natural Care, a natural skincare business.

Rocha, who was born in Mexico, emigrated to the United States just before she turned six years old. "My parents believed that in the U.S. if you worked hard enough, you could be anything," she says enthusiastically. Back in Mexico, her mother was working three jobs, and her grandmother was working two, just to get by. "Still, we didn't have enough for anything but the bare necessities," she recalls. "There, it didn't seem to matter how hard they worked because it was never going to be good enough even to pay all the bills and feel secure about our next meal, but in the U.S., you could eat well, and you could have winter shoes that fit."

Years later, Rocha marvels at her business. "Here I am, a small business owner working as hard as I imagined I would and living the American dream that I traveled so hard to obtain. [I now have] independence and self-sufficiency," she says. "My story isn't filled with glamour, but I think that sharing my story can help others who are working toward the same dream."

Team Spirit

Rocha adds that, for many Hispanic small business owners, their own definition and pursuit of the American dream is characterized by the fact that the goal is never just for one person alone. "I'm a tiny business," she says, "but I always have time to stop and talk to others about how we can all grow."

Holly Smith, of Curate, agrees. What the American dream ultimately means, she says, isn't an individual's own betterment. "The rising tide lifts all boats," she says. Her business may be hers, Rocha says, but it represents "our American Dream, and I am so proud of it all."