Jocelyn Ramirez, is a plant-based chef, college professor and yoga instructor who started cooking at a young age. Like so many Latinas, her earliest memories can be pointed back to the hours she spent in the kitchen during family parties. There, she’d watch closely as family members interacted with her abuela, learning recipes and referring to her wisdom on how to craft certain meals. Jocelyn says that this experience is what ultimately inspired her to be a foodie and start her own business.
But before she became the founder of Todo Verde, the business owner tells us in the latest “Las Jefas” episode by mitú that tragedy had a big part in the design and ingredients of her recipes.
When her father was diagnosed with cancer for the second time, Jocelyn rode around the city of Los Angeles hoping to create plant-based superfood smoothies that would help him gain back his strength and health.
But, as she made her way around L.A. and searched for healthy food options, it became apparent to her that there was an extreme lack of access to such foods in her neighborhood. Meanwhile, it was at this time that, Jocelyn also began taking over family meals. She’d taken notice of her family’s food habits and wanted to help. Her family’s health issues had inspired her to make sure they treated their bodies better and nurtured them with healthier options.
That’s when her family members began to comment on how good she was at cooking.
“So they just started to say ‘wow you’re really good at cooking, you enjoy it so much, you should do something with it,'” Jocelyn tells us.
So she did.
In 2015, she started Todo Verde with a mission to create plant-based meals inspired by Mexican and South American cultures. “We’re really trying to target a millennial Latina who can still eat things that are still healthy but still culturally relevant,” she explains. “And we ‘re trying to provide a lifestyle journey with her.”
When she first started Todo Verde the menu started with superfood smoothies and aguas frescas.
Now it’s exploded to so much more. Today, Todo Verde boasts a variety of healthy eats including horchata made with black rice and activated charcoal, jackfruit fajitas and mole nachos.
“I always thought that food was just a hobby but I never thought that it would be a career choice where I would quit my job and start from scratch,” she says.
For Latinas looking to merge their culture and passion, Jocelyn has one key piece of advice.
“Follow your dreams and open up businesses that you’re passionate about.”
On July 7, the U.S. Women’s National Team went up against the Netherlands Women’s National Team for the FIFA Women’s World Cup and USWNT took home the championship cup. During the team’s victory speech in New York, U.S. women’s soccer star and forward, Megan Rapinoe, said, “We got white girls, black girls, and everything in between.”
However, Rapinoe should have thought twice before making that statement. After all, what exactly did she mean by “everything in between” if the U.S. Women’s National Team didn’t feature a single Latina woman on its roster this year?
Rapinoe’s comments recently inspired a Los Angeles Times story about an L.A. girls soccer club trying to make the face of women’s soccer.
Columnist Bill Plaschke spoke to young soccer players from the Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club, whose team is mostly made up of Latina athletes “facing economic and cultural battles that have long kept them on the soccer sidelines.” The Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club is made up of 175 girls trying to change the face of women’s soccer that has historically been dominated by white women.
This critique of the U.S. Women’s National Football Team is not new. When they also held the title for world champions in 2017, NPR’s Latino USA published an article “Why Is Women’s Soccer so White?”
Audio producer and journalist Michael Simon Johnson writes, “The United States women’s national soccer team is far from a beacon of diversity, especially when compared to their male counterparts. With few women of color––and no Latinas––the team is extremely white, in spite of soccer’s entrenched place in Latin American culture.”
However, the issue isn’t that young girls of color aren’t interested in playing the sport.
But rather, as NPR notes, “youth soccer’s play-to-play system favors not necessarily the most talented children, but the children of parents who can afford elite clubs’ steep fees.” Club soccer fees run from $2,000 to $5,000 annually, per the Los Angeles Times.
That’s where Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club comes in. Their club president Mick Muhlfriedel helps run the all-volunteer operation out of a middle school field in Pico-Union. According to Mulhfriedel, “some of the girls contribute $25 a month. Most pay nothing.”
Since the 1991 World Cup, there have been 12 women of color on the U.S. World Cup or Olympic teams.
“Add in the lack of diverse role models and access, transportation issues and the cost, the number of obstacles facing girls of color in the game of soccer becomes poignantly evident. Although progress has been slow, there has been progress. It would be remiss to not acknowledge some of the black players who are trailblazing on the field,” writes Stephanie Taylor of Girls Soccer Network.
She writes that race was something most people on the teams she played didn’t want to discuss or even acknowledge.
“Over most of my 20-year career, I hadn’t realized how uncomfortable some teammates were around certain coaches or officials. Most players wanted to represent the US, to be at the Olympics or the World Cup, and they’re proud to be on the team. So they kept quiet. But those conversations with teammates who felt things were off, means race is an issue we need to discuss a whole lot more,” Solo writes. “The numbers are very clear. We need more men and women of color to represent US national teams. So few players of color representing the USWNT means there are great athletes across the country we are ignoring.”
The Los Angeles Times also cites that according to NCAA reports from 2017-2018, only 8% of female soccer players were Latino women. This is why it’s so important to not only advocate for young Latina athletes but also help mobilize the conversations further surrounding not only gender parity’s in professional sports but also race.
In the last two years, the Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club has won three of their eight major tournaments and made it to the finals three other times. This fall, the Los Angeles Times writes that they’ll compete in the prestigious Premier division of the Coast Soccer League and compete in the California Regional League.
The young Latina soccer players from the Down Los Angeles Soccer Club seem to be resilient soccer players passionate and determined.
More importantly, they seem resolute in their efforts to change the face of future World Cup and soccer matches that take place on a national stage.
Here’s to hoping we see some of these young talented players giving that victory speech or holding the cup in the future.
For a long time, finance was considered a boys’ club that only allowed old, grey-haired men in. But for women who largely head households and outlive men, monetary savvy is a necessity we can no longer afford to pass over. In Los Angeles, financial planner Brittney Castro, CFP®, is ensuring that women of all walks of life have the money wits they need and deserve.
At Financially Wise, Inc., the boutique financial planning firm Castro founded in 2013, the biracial Mexican-American offers holistic and comprehensive financial and investment planning for individuals, couples and businesses, with a special aim for women to get their money right.
“A big thing for me, in the beginning, was to make [financial advice] more accessible, not just for high-network clients. Everyone needs a financial plan to pay for life and goals,” Castro, who says she speaks with clients as if they were friends, in a “fun, personal, compassionate, relatable and nonjudgmental way,” told FIERCE.
In addition to her fee-only financial planning, the 35-year-old CEO also provides online money courses, financial wellness workshops, speaking engagements and brand partnerships.
Unlike many others in her field, Castro wasn’t raised by entrepreneurial parents, so she understands firsthand how intimidating finances can be. In fact, she entered the industry because she wanted to help communities like her own, everyday people with finance fears, all while being her own boss and making a lofty income herself.
Starting in the corporate world, she loved the change she was making in people’s lives: educating them, helping build confidence in themselves and their pursuits as well as co-creating futures where clients weren’t just secure but thriving.
Still, the long workdays and benevolent sexism of the industry took its toll on the young career woman.
“I stuck out like a sore thumb, which used to bother me a lot,” she said. “There have been so many times in my career when I was talked down to or judged.”
After five years working for a large company, Castro decided to quit and enter independent financial planning, where she’d have more control over her hours and less interaction with condescending bros.
At the time, blogs were in bloom and social media was on the come-up, and Castro, knowing the troubles of being a woman in money, saw a niche that wasn’t being targeted: women. She started writing and speaking publicly about gender and capital, quickly seeing the benefits of the identities she was previously made to feel insecure about.
“I now think it’s an advantage that I’m a woman, Latina, young and in finance,” said Castro, whose insight on the topic can be found in outlets like Entrepreneur, CNN, CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Glamour, Elle, Marie Claire and more. “People need me. This is America. I’m the new face, the new generation, so now I see it as a strength.”
Her biggest goal is to demystify finance so that it’s approachable for everyday people who fear all things dinero, and that typically comprises women, especially women of color. This demographic, Castro says, often feels unseen and unheard, and she doesn’t want to perpetuate those feelings and experiences in her office. Knowing the fears, insecurities and emotions that come with money talk, she creates a space where women feel safe to open up.
“It’s never just money — it’s our lives, our fears, our wants. So it’s important for me to give women another place to come to where they can feel heard and get the help they want and deserve,” she said.
Once she and her client work through the sentimental blockages, she then breaks down why it’s totally essential for women, especially, to be financially literate and in control of their coins: We live longer than men. Nine of 10 women will be in charge of their finances at some point in their lives. We still earn less than men. We lose income when taking care of children and elders. And the list, she says, goes on.
“There are a lot of challenges, which makes learning about money more necessary,” Castro contends. “While current women’s movements are helping, by making it easier for us or creating more awareness around issues we experience, we, as individuals, still need to decide to dive in and make decisions on our finances.”
For those who are interested but don’t know where to begin or feel like they don’t have the time or cash flow to get started, Castro urges to be abandon self-doubt and just embark on the journey.
To start, Castro offers a few beginner steps.
Know your budget.
This includes all the money coming in and going out of your bank accounts.
Consider how your current budget is working. This will help you spot if you are running short and allow you to identify areas where you might be wasting money that you could actually be saving. “Maybe you need to make more or cut back, but you have to find a way to save money. We all do. But you have to start with your budget,” she said.
Set up automatic systems that will save you money.
There are a few ways to do this. Paychecks that are made via direct deposit, for instance, can automatically go into different accounts, including savings, 401(k)s, investments, employee stock purchase plans and health savings. Automating recurring bills as well as putting credit cards on autopay could also help.
“It’s almost impossible to save money if you have no automatic system that is taking money out of your account. It’s torture to do it any other way. If you see it, you will spend it. Just to be safe, set up an automatic savings plan,” she says.
Learn how to invest.
Learn the language, don’t take risks that will lose you money and expect it to be a lifelong, ever-changing journey.
Whether through a class or a book, educate yourself on investment, in the stock market and in real estate.
“I’ve been doing this for 13 years, and I still learn something new all the time,” she said. “Things change. Technology changes. Products change. There are investments that are right for you and then something comes that’s better, so you have to be willing to make a change.”
Be gentle, yet assertive with your financial goals.
Castro emphasizes that it takes courage, willpower and commitment to follow through on your strategy, which isn’t always easy to maintain.
To help, Castro recommends finding a trusted partner who can help you stay accountable and on track. “Stay motivated and hang in there,” she says. “You’re never alone. We all have the same money goals and challenges, so it’s nice to find somebody you trust that can go through this financial journey with you.”
Once we start paying closer attention to our money and making healthier financial decisions, Castro affirms that we will begin seeing benefits in other aspects of our lives. Think about it: when we aren’t stressing about money, we can think more clearly and spend more of our time enjoying life and those around us. It’s a win all around, and it’s one that is in our hands.
“People fear finances, but it’s actually so empowering when you have it in order,” she says.
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