This week, we’re featuring Erika Hernandez as our Everyday Chica. After realizing it was time to make a change in her life, the Cuban-American entrepreneur made a career shift, deciding to inspire and empower women who were also in a transitional period in life. Her journey in giving back was born. She spoke with Ain’t I Latina? about finding her purpose, starting a business and how she’s come to understand her identity.
Ain’t I Latina? : You created EH Social Events at a transitional point in your life. What was that moment when you knew you wanted to step out on faith and launch this new venture?
Hernandez: It was the moment I had enough of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. Besides being a mother to my then 3-year-old son, I was unhappy with everything that my life was: marriage, home, job, appearance…everything. I started self-evaluating and I was determined to make changes in order to be the best me. I knew being happy in my career was only going to motivate me to continue making changes in other areas, which eventually would lead me to a joyous life.
What advice would you give to someone looking for clarity during a time when they’re searching for their next move/career?
Before making any career change, one must first get real with themselves. I’ve seen it time and time again where people change careers or start a new business solely because of the potential of making money, or because it seems fun at first, but then months later they decide it wasn’t for them. Why is this? Because in order for someone to be successful at something, one must love what he or she do and the only way to figure that out is by keeping it real with yourself. If you aren’t jumping out of bed in the morning with excitement to go to work, don’t even waste your time. I’ve been there; I know.
What inspired you to create Handbags of Hope?
After going through a funk in 2015, I was inspired to turn my life around and do more. Where I was just months ago and where I am today was a story I needed to share in hopes of helping other women who might be going through something similar. Handbags of Hope was an idea that was brought to me in October and it was originally supposed to be a handbag collection drive at a local coffee shop. But a collection drive was just not enough for me. It kept replaying in my mind and I kept thinking to myself that I needed to do more not only for the women these handbags were going to but all women, or at least as many as possible.
I knew I wanted to empower women and raise funds for Harvest of Hope Ministries, which is my mother’s non-profit organization. My mother has been my number one supporter through all [of] my adventures. In her late 50s, she finally found something she is passionate about and I just want to be the same support she’s been for me.
How do you hope this year’s event will help benefit and support women in need?
Set during March, Women in Business Month, Handbags of Hope supports women in need as they face the emotional and financial challenges of getting a second chance to rebuild a life filled with hope. A hundred percent of the event’s proceeds will be donated to Harvest of Hope Ministries, so they can continue their mission in restoring hope to women and children in need through their in-kind donations and outreach programs. As women, we run a small world in our purses; it’s one of our most personal possessions.
So I have asked every single attendee to bring a slightly used handbag filled with snacks and toiletries for a woman who is currently rebuilding her life with the help of Dress for Success Hudson County. We want attendees to walk away not only feeling fulfilled, but connected to a network of women who are making a difference in business but in their personal lives to make this world a better place for our daughters, sisters, mothers and girlfriends.
If only 1 out 100 expected women attending Handbags of Hope leaves feeling inspired to live her best life, then my job is done.
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