Among those Latino business owners are men and women who are breaking barriers and making a name for themselves in the business world. From the beauty industry, to fashion, food, digital media and more, there’s a Hispanic changing the game in every industry.
Carolina Contreras, famously known as Miss Rizos, isn’t here to play the natural hair game, she’s here to change it! As the founder and owner of Miss Rizos Salón RD, the first all-curly hair salon in the Dominican Republic and with her newly opened Miss Rizos Salon US in NYC’s Washington Heights neighborhood, this entrepreneur and business owner is simultaneously tackling natural hair stigmas and gentrification. Keep flippin’ those gorgeous curls, girl.
Those Flamin’ Hot Cheetos you love? You can thank Richard Montañez for them. A son of a Mexican immigrant, Montañez grew up in Southern California in a one-room cinder block house he shared with 14 members of his family. At age 18 he was hired as a janitor at a Frito-Lay plant, after his wife filled out the application since he struggled to read and write. It wasn’t until a broken machine on the Cheetos assembly line caused a batch to come out without the cheese power dust that the Flamin’ Hot idea came up. Montañez took the Cheetos home and dusted them with chili powder, testing the flavor with his family. The then PepsiCo CEO, Roger Enrico, gave him two weeks to prepare a presentation to the executive suite, and Montañez went to the meeting fully prepared with custom-designed packaging for his idea. After that, it’s safe to say the rest was history and now we’ve all been blessed with delicious Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
Oscar Munoz is the current president and chief executive officer (CEO) of United Airlines. The oldest on nine children, Munoz was born into a Mexican-American family living in California. He was the first in his family to graduate from college, earning a BS in business from the University of Southern California and an MBA from Pepperdine University. Prior to working at United Airlines, Munoz was president of CSX Corporation, CFO and Vice President of Consumer Services at AT&T, and worked for Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. He has been named among the “100 Most Influential Hispanics” by Hispanic Business Magazine twice and was named the “Communicator of the Year from 2017” by PRWeek. Keep up that great work!
She’s a stylist, pioneer, entrepreneur, fashionista, and Colombian LEGEND. The list goes on for this incomparable celebrity stylist, Irma Martinez. Irma is the genius behind the iconic looks of your favorite performers and is cementing her legacy as a Latina fashion tastemaker as the founder of Trendy Academy. Give it up for this smart and stylish Colombian boss woman!
At the young age of 18, John Henry got his start in the business world. Born into a Dominican family, he moved to New York from Florida to become a jazz musician and was working as a doorman while going to school full-time. He took this opportunity to build a relationship with the tenants by learning their names, preferences, and working as the best doorman anyone could have. And it paid off. It was a resident in the building who offered him his first business opportunity in the dry-cleaning industry. His job was to bring clothes to the dry-cleaning business owner, he’d charge him wholesale price while Henry would charge the market rate. The business kept growing and he hit the jackpot when a resident in another building gave him the opportunity to work cleaning the wardrobes of big movie productions. After that, he rolled out dog walking, housekeeping, and even had a friend develop an app to facilitate the services on demand. The business was sold at around $1 million and after that, Henry built a non-profit startup accelerator that mentors companies in exchange for a four-year commitment to remain in Harlem. Let’s give it up for this man who is ensuring everyone has an opportunity to succeed!
Let’s talk about Fortune Magazine’s #4 Most Powerful Latina in 2017, Grace Puma! Currently the Senior Vice President and Chief Supply Officer of PepsiCo Inc. and board member for Williams-Sonoma, Puma has worked for United Airlines, Kraft Foods, Motorola and Gillette. Recognized as a top Hispanic leader, Puma is valued for her ability to find innovative solutions, building strong business relationships and developing talent. In addition to being recognized by Fortune Magazine and the Association of Latino Professionals for America, she’s also been recognized as the “Executive of the Year” by Latina Style Magazine. She’s a true inspiration!
JP Domínguez is a passionate advocate for the success of young Latinos and the use of technology and social media to share ideas. He brings to life the stories of change-makers in the Latino community through his podcast “Champions for Change.” He also launched Hazlo Media, a digital media company that amplifies brands and builds online audiences for businesses, media networks, and non-profits in the Latino community. Thank you for your hard work to properly represent Hispanics!
Antonio Neri, the first Latino CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, was born and raised in Argentina. In 1995, he joined Hewlett-Packard’s customer service department and moved up the ladder until in 2018, he became the president and CEO. During his time at HP, Neri has been credited for spearheading several of the company’s technologies, as well as helping the company acquire multiple subsidiaries. Hard work has definitely paid off for Antonio Neri, and we’re left feeling inspired to reach for more!
Edgar Olivo is a Mexican-American award-winning bilingual business communication expert. He founded Compass CBS, a computer and business school that delivers innovative leadership and training solutions to top businesses in North and Latin America. His dream? To use language to help companies develop strong, harmonious, productive, and inclusive work environments. Thanks for making the world a more eloquent place, Edgar!
We hope you’re feeling inspired to follow your dreams and build your own empire, just like many of these Hispanic men and women have. Sometimes opportunity will knock on your door, and sometimes you have to go after it. What’s important is to keep your head up and find inspiration from strong men and women that are breaking barriers making their dreams a reality. And in the words of the wise John Leguizamo: “When you feel the world is against you or you give up hope, you look at your heroes and say, ‘They were able to do it. They had hard times and a lot of opposition, but they got through it.’ Then you feel, ‘I can do it too.’”