Latina On a Mission

Adriana Soto of Adriana's Agency in Des Moines, IA. Photo by Wezz De La Rosa / Hola Iowa

By Samanta Mesa, ABC WOI-TV

Central Iowa is more than 1,100 miles away from Juarez, Mexico, the birthplace of entrepreneur Adriana Soto. But Soto has a love for Iowa that overcomes separation from her hometown. “I’m proud that I come from an immigrant family,” says Soto. About 30 years ago, Soto’s family moved to the Midwest to work for a packing company. They thought they’d only stay in Iowa for six months, but life had different plans. At the time, the Hispanic community was small. “My parents didn’t speak English, so they didn’t know where to go, so I was always helping them.”  Soto had her first baby at 17 years old. At 19, while her daughter was a toddler, she began studying insurance, with the goal of providing coverage to Spanish-speaking Iowans. Even after passing all the exams required to sell insurance and get her licenses, it was hard to get investors. “They didn’t want to give me a contract,” Soto recalls. “One, because I was Latina, and two, they didn’t believe that there were enough Hispanics in Des Moines to be successful.” Some companies never got back to her… but others did. Now, 10 years later, Soto owns Adriana’s Agency, the first Latina-run independent insurance agency in Des Moines, where she works with several companies offering insurance policies. “That means a lot because I proved them wrong.” Soto believes the lack of Spanish speakers in insurance creates problems for Iowans who don’t know how to navigate policies. “They’re trying to be as educated and follow the rules as much as they can,” Soto says. “Some of our people cannot have a driver’s license yet because of many reasons. But if they can get insurance to try to comply with the state, they’re doing it.” Soto provides many different types of insurance, including auto, home and personal, as well as various commercial lines that include workers compensation, and SR-22 insurance.

When discussing what keeps her going on her toughest days, she is brought to tears, “My mom is a very strong woman, and I grew up seeing her like that. There was never room for her to give up. She always worked. She worked all her life. Even when she was sick or exhausted. And then she would come home and continue to work at the house.” Her mom kept the family going with several jobs, often working more than one at a time. “I need to make her proud. Her moving from another country, leaving her family behind and her own mom and dad; I want her to believe that it was worth it. She did it to give us a better life. I want her to know that she did the right thing.” Soto also wants to show her daughter what it means to persevere. “I need to show her what my mom showed me by not giving up,” she says. 


Photo by Wezz De La Rosa/Hola Iowa

Some days are harder than others, but Soto says the women in her life fuel her. Besides being inspired by her mother’s tenacity and the work ethic she led by example; Soto’s daughter is her greatest champion. Her help was critical in making Soto’s career successful while she raised her three children, studied overnight, and opened her business. “[My daughter] was always there,” Soto says. “She would take my sons to school, then pick them up. If it wasn’t for her helping me with the boys, I don’t think I would have been able to do it.”

When she’s not reviewing contracts, Soto is sharing news as a co-founder of Radio Iowa En Linea, a Spanish radio station. “I love radio. We don’t have a Spanish [television] channel, so for a lot of people, it’s a way for them to get information about what’s going on, get news, weather and what happened over the weekend, or what events are going on in town. If something’s happening in the community, we broadcast the information like when it’s time to register to vote.” As a Latina who’s created her own path with the help of other women, she wants to share a message. “It’s about the people. I have a mission to help everyone, and it comes from my heart.”

JEFAS Magazine is a collaboration of writers, photographers, social media managers, editors, translators, and designers from across Illinois, Iowa and the Midwest – all of whom are Latinx. It is the first magazine created by the Latinx community, for the Latinx community that focuses on how they are boosting the economy, giving back, and filling the gap between what is needed and what is available in the state. 


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