In celebration of our 15 years empowering women, we are excited to introduce a retrospective collection of success stories from previous EWI alumnae. One of EWI’s board members, Howie Feinstein, is the contributing writer for this series. 

Lucrecia followed her dream

Lucrecia at 2016 Marketplace
Lucrecia selling her t-shirts, mugs and more at the 2016 Artisan Marketplace with EWI.

Lucrecia Santoyo emigrated here from Peru in 2005, with little more than a ferocious work ethic. That brought her consistent successful employment in a wide range of settings, but no real progress toward her goal of becoming an entrepreneur. Her journey began when she found Empowered Women International.

“I’ve been in the U.S.A. for over ten years. I always worked as a manager in the restaurant business. For the last two years, I developed my career as a Montessori teacher-assistant, for infants, toddlers, and primary-grade children. But before the new school year started, I decided to change my path and create something I could make money from, but also make people happy and smile. My idea at the beginning was to make t-shirts with designs according to people’s nationality, and sell them at expos, fairs, and festivals. Then I considered shirts with different themes, like wine-lovers, 5K runners, etc. I sold shirts all over the area at these events.

“Then I discovered that I could market my shirts to businesses – such as restaurants and construction companies – schools, churches, even the government. I want to go after large contracts with the government, but I still want to sell my shirts at fairs. I love to meet people, and offer them something worth their money. It’s so much fun to contribute to others.”

But something was missing…

Though she was gaining success, Lucrecia felt lonely in her journey, both personally and professionally. Lucrecia first learned of EWI through her connections with local Hispanic business organizations. She was intrigued by the opportunity to join a supportive community of other women. In 2016, she enrolled in EWI’s Entrepreneurial Training for Success Class, and things started to happen:

“I loved the classes. I learned so much from the classes. I was inspired by the support of the women. It felt great to be helped, and to support the others as well. I made a lot of friends. I even sold my product to fellow students, who also referred me to other clients. We all worked together. Before EWI, I was isolated and bored. EWI opened my eyes. I can always learn; I may take the Grow My Business Class in the future.”

Gaining insight & giving back

EWI's Alex & Sarah modelling T-shirts by Lucrecia at the 2016 Artisan marketplace
EWI team in T-shirts by Lucrecia at the 2016 Artisan marketplace

A key lesson Lucrecia learned from the ETS program was to listen to the customer. People enjoyed the t-shirts, but often asked for their personal brand on additional products. Her product line has now expanded to mugs, cups, pens, jewelry, computer equipment, stationery, caps, and other items.

Lucrecia is also a prime example of the attitude we hope to cultivate at EWI: the motivation to pay it forward:

“I will be happy to give back – I would love to teach at EWI. I want to be an EWI ambassador.”

To learn more about Lucrecia’s business, visit https://www.tshirtsandfriends.com/.

Making her mark: Lucrecia Santoyo’s entrepreneurial dream
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