Taking a Chance Led to this Latina Helping Others and Creating a Legacy

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Photo by Wezz De La Rosa/Hola Iowa
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By Christina Fernández-Morrow, Hola Iowa

Fear kept Brenda Paz from taking the plunge into entrepreneurship until one day, her husband, who owns his own heating and cooling business mentioned that one of his clients was selling his property. He planned to mention it to his brother as an investment opportunity. “Why not us?” she challenged. She drained her retirement account to buy the property and spent hours researching everything she could find about owning and running a mixed occupancy property. It wasn’t just inspections she had to worry about. “The apartments needed so much work I cried when I first walked through them. I thought they should be condemned. But then I thought, no, I got to the US with no money, didn’t speak English and here I am. I knew I could do it.” With the encouragement of her husband, she got to work learning about home repairs and fixing appliances. “We read a lot. There was no money to hire anyone to help.” Her brother in law chipped in his help and together, they spent hours cleaning, repairing and slowly bringing the property up to code, square foot by square foot. “We started from zero. We couldn’t even get insurance on it because of its condition,” she remembers. It took seven months of work before they passed their first inspection and were eligible for insurance. Paz and her husband worked two jobs to pay the loan on the property, while raising two busy teens and spending every extra minute at the property. They got little sleep and had big worries. “Our biggest support came from each other,” she says of working side by side with her husband to get the property ready for a rental permit. 

Photo by Wezz De La Rosa/Hola Iowa

It took a year to get the units ready for tenants and two years to recoup their savings, but today they successfully manage four apartments and 2 commercial spaces. “All our tenants are Latino. We rent below market value, but it feels good to help our community have a safe place to live.” While they’re still looking for their next investment property, Paz is ready for the challenge. “It’s not easy, especially at the beginning. It takes a lot of time, but don’t be afraid to do it. Being your own boss helps your mental health. You get to help others, make money, and control your own time. I wish I had done it sooner,” says Paz of her journey. No doubt that is the advice she shared with the next generation of entrepreneurs in her household, creating a legacy of entrepreneurship by inspiring her daughter, who opened her own business in 2023, a few weeks after her 21st birthday.

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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. 

To see the locations where you can find the magazine visit @JEFASMagazine on Instagram and TikTok

You can find the digital magazine here:

https://holaamericanews.com/jefas-latinas-in-business-magazine-may-2024/

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