un aguacate a la vez

#girlboss

From Copywriter to Business Owner | Annette Borrero from La Vieja Pizza & Beer

CareerMaría Elena RodríguezComment
annette borrero la vieja pizza and beer

I met Annette through my mutual friend, Silvia who you may have heard of since we started a podcast together! She quickly became one of my closest friends and it has been a pleasure watching her grow from copywriter to a badass business woman who truly believes in herself and her capabilities as an entrepreneur. I have to say, hearing her employees call her "jefa" was very inspiring and I felt extremely proud of her. 

She started La Vieja Pizza and Beer a little over a year ago with Elliot Rodríguez, her boyfriend, now baby daddy (they are expecting a baby girl! 👧) and survived two back to back natural disasters called Irma and María. It hasn't been easy, but according to Annette it has been the most amazing experience of her life. Want to learn more about this super inspiring story? Keep reading! 

María Elena: What do you wanted to be when you were a little girl?

Annette Borrero: Soap Opera Actress! Just because that's what I used to watch everyday with my mom and grandmother. 

ME: What was your first job before college?

AB: After a jewelry class, in which I learned a technique using Swarovski crystals, I decided to start a jewelry line. I started selling my creations at school and soon enough, some jewelry making shops started asking me to give classes in Mayagüez, Ponce, Yauco and even Old San Juan. Then that summer I decided to start a jewelry making camp. My mom was my accountant and she even got me business cards. I was only 13 years old, I felt like a millionaire!

ME: What did you study, where and why?

AB: I studied communication with a minor in languages in Universidad del Sagrado Corazón (USC) in Santurce. Why Santurce? At that moment my parents where in the process of getting a divorce and I wanted to leave home (Yauco) and be independent.

Since I really didn't know what I wanted to study and I really wanted to be an actress, I figured communication was the closest I could get to it. What I did know was that I didn't want to spend the rest of my life in an office, so studying communication and how the media works was a way to have several options lined up for me.

ME: What was your first job out of college?

AB: At an advertising agency.

ME: What did you learn from your experience working at an advertising agency?

AB: It developed my patience. I don't like to use the term "working under pressure" because it seems mediocre. There is no need to work under pressure, you just need to do the work. Everyone works at their own pace to accomplish their goals. When you put too much pressure on yourself you are going to fail at something. 

I also learned that not anyone can be a boss and your worth is not measured by how much power you have in an organization. It helped me understand that each person, each department and each position is important. Without your employees you wouldn't be a boss.

annette marie borrero olan

ME: When did you know that the advertising industry wasn't for you?

AB: Don't get me wrong, I love advertising and I specially love to work on my business's branding and sending out the message to my target. But I knew that I had to start making some moves about a year in at the agency, when I figured that the bureaucracy behind the advertising industry wasn't for me. 

ME: But you stayed there for almost 4 years! How did you cope with this frustration?

AB: Money wise, I was completely cut of from my parents since I was 22 years old, so obviously I needed to stay there because it gave me some sort of security for a while. But I knew this wasn't going to be forever. Sure, I had some breakdowns, but I handled them with the therapist you recommended me who helped me a lot to overcome this situation. I knew that I had to accomplish some goals and hang in there for a while without being desperate to leave just because I couldn't handle the bureaucracy. 

I was really clear that I didn't aspire to have the life that I saw 80% of the people around me had. I knew that my time at that agency had an expiration date. 

Looking back now, I know I quit at the perfect moment. I was so much more mature, grown and I had a better intuition towards people's real intention, which you really need when you manage your own business. Now I work three times as much than I did working at the agency but I am so much happier. 

ME: How did your family members and close one reacted to your decision to quit your career to open a pizza place?

There is no need to work under pressure, you just need to do the work.
— Annette Borrero

AB: I started to prepare them mentally, specially my dad! My dad is very traditional and it turns out that the same day I quit the agency, he retired from a company he had worked for more than half of his life. He couldn't understand how I could quit a career that required a degree for what he considered "a hobby" and thought that I would waste my time doing this. But I understand where he was coming from. He really didn't want to see me struggle. 

Soon, he started seeing that this was not a whim, it was a real business that we were creating from the ground up and now he loves to brag about me! 

Nevertheless, my mom is one of those people that won't say anything, but she's always there. She can defer from my opinion, but she always responds with a "I know what my daughters give and if you take a decision is because you can handle it, so go for it and I'll be here for support"

ME: What was the biggest challenge before opening La Vieja Pizza and Beer?

AB: Personally, quitting the agency! I felt ready, I believed in myself, I believed in our concept but it was a personal struggle to set a clear date in which I was going to quit and dedicate my time to my own business. When I finally quit, we were half way through the planning process, but it came to a point where splitting my time between the agency and the business was not enough. 

In terms of the restaurant, the biggest challenge was administrative. Getting all the permissions, creating a corporation, financial statements, projections and all that planning process before opening for business was hectic. 

la vieja pizza and beer

ME: How were those first few months after opening the restaurant?

AB: It was interesting. Even though I love cooking at home, I had no experience in a restaurant kitchen and I certainly had no experience cooking in bigger volumes. Also, customer service was a first for me from a business owner perspective. People often look at me and underestimate me because I look young. 

ME: Let's talk about Hurricanes Irma and María. How was that experience with your business?

AB: It was a religious experience for us. Before we opened the restaurant, we created financial projections for the first and second years of the business, but we never contemplated having two devastating hurricanes. Needless to say, we didn't project our losses after this in terms of money, employment, inventory and even infrastructure. We didn't even have a power plant because while creating our business plan we decided it was an unnecessary investment because we projected that at most, we would be without power for three days. Ha! 

For Irma, we lost more than $2,000 in inventory because we didn't prepare. As many other Puertorricans, we underestimated the hurricane. Then came María and we couldn't open the business for three weeks. Three weeks without money flow, but once we opened after those three weeks of not operating, we doubled our sales because people needed to come to the restaurant to eat, since they didn't have power or water service at their homes! That way we were able to recompense all the loses in September 2017. 

la vieja pizza and beer cupey

ME: What is the most difficult part of owning and managing a business with your life partner?

AB: I would have thought it would be making decisions, but it hasn't been like that. We quickly learned to differ and see each other's weaknesses and strengths in order to make important decisions. The most difficult part has been not having a set routine. Our life is La Vieja so we can't have romantic getaways as much as we used to. 

annette borrero elliott rodriguez

But the best part is that we complement each other and we never compete, which has made us closer and stronger. We have learned a lot about each other that we wouldn't have learned if we weren't business partners as well. We are a team! 

ME: Talking about getting closer... You recently got pregnant! How has been this experience now that you have a relatively new business.

AB: It was absolutely not planned. I discovered that the 1% error margin in anti-contraceptives is real, I'm living it. It was a shock! We had plans and goals for 2018 that didn't include a baby. We had talked about having kids as a long-term goal but this has pushed us to reconsider several future business plans. 

ME: What is next for La Vieja Pizza and Beer?

AB: Our brunch once a month on Sundays! Happy hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays and we recently started incorporating wine to our menu. Also, since we had to cancel our OktoberFest last year due to the hurricanes, we want to make it happen this year. 

ME: What advice would you give someone who wants to open their own business one day?

AB: Define your concept and believe in it 100%. If you are not in love with your concept, change it until you are sure of what you're doing. And of course, have discipline! 

ME: What would you tell yourself at 18 years old?

AB: Take more advantage of college while still having fun and traveling like you did. 

 

 


Want to try La Vieja Pizza and Beer?

Directions:  400 San Claudio Ave. San Juan, Puerto Rico

Hours:

  • Wednesdays and Sundays: 12PM-9PM

  • Thursdays and Saturdays: 12PM-10PM

  • Fridays: 12PM-11PM

Social Media:

How to Make a Comeback

Career, Real TalkMaría Elena RodríguezComment
how to make a comeback

These days it feels like everybody is telling Puerto Rico to "not give up" and that this is the time to "reinvent yourself". And while I completely agree with both of these statements, no matter how sick we are of listening to them, I feel like most of us don't even know where to start. Let's face it, Hurricane María caught us off guard and we are still trying to pick ourselves back up and get shit done. 

And believe me, looking for hope when so many many people are losing their jobs and even closing down their businesses is tough. But this is our chance to look at this setback as the perfect white canvas to make this the life you want! So I put together ways you can actually make a comeback stronger than ever. Just remember, step by step, day by day! 

Cry all you want, then put your game face on!

And once you stop crying, please leave fear behind. This is not the moment to have second thoughts about that business or blog you were meaning to start. Either you make it or you don't. And if other people could, why wouldn't you?

Just make sure you are catering your business to Puerto Rico's current situation. This are not the times to make "business as usual". 

Find a comfortable space with WIFI

Mari Nieves from Pink Studios did a blog post on all the places you can find WIFI after Hurricane María. Pick the one that makes you feel comfortable and bring your laptop! And STAY AWAY FROM SOCIAL MEDIA, unless is LinkedIn, of course. 

Even though I don't have the facts, I am pretty sure social media is the #1 procrastinator trigger among millennials. So please, once you find your perfect wifi spot, don't waste your time double tapping memes on Instagram! Use your time to update your resume, make a killer cover letter, apply to new jobs or finally finish that business plan. Focus!

Change your strategy

If things didn't work out for the best the first, second and third time, start thinking about changing your strategy. Maybe it's time to learn new skills (plenty of free courses online, btw!) or even time to move to another city and get a new and exciting job. Remember, you are the only one in charge of your future. Be strategic!

shake what your mama gave you

I talked about this in my last blog post, but I wouldn't be in such a "good place" mentally after Hurricane María if it weren't for the yoga and running habit I started developing a little over three months ago. I don't know if it has to do with the fact that these workouts keep my mind busy or it is just that I have finally found "my workout nirvana". All I know is that what I am doing, is making me feel great and most importantly, I am managing my anxiety like a champ, considering my past. 

So find ways to move that body, these days we need lots and LOTS of endorphins. 

Focus on being an example for others in similar positions

One of the most gratifying things you can do is give other people the tools to succeed. This is a great way to give back to your community.

If you can't find the motivation to get out of bed in the morning, think of all the people who look up to you. Maybe it's your little sister, your intern or even your parents. Don't let them down! Remember, you are always an inspiration to someone and they need your strength.

Focus on the good

I know, this is cliché, but in my short life I have learned that an attitude of gratitude is the only way to make it through the hard seasons of life. There is ALWAYS a reason to be grateful. 

A great way to practice gratitude is by finding a workout you get so zoned out on, since using your body is a great way to be thankful for all its functioning capabilities. Another way is finding time to meditate and think about all the blessings in your life. I have specially loved doing this after yoga and I have even been incorporating some essential oils into my routine. #Divine

Surround yourself with positive people

This is an all around tip, but in hard situations this is specially important. Being surrounded by Debbie Downers is the worst, but imagine having one around when your life is crumbling down into pieces. Yuck! Find people who have the same drive as you towards success. And if you can't find one, there are plenty of books and blogs you can read of people who don't put excuses. 

Ask for LinkedIn Recommendations

This is specially good if you're planning on leaving your current city. This way potential employers have a better understanding of who you are and your interpersonal skills.

If you don't know where to start, just call someone who works or used to work with you and ask them for a LinkedIn Recommendation. If you left your job in good terms, this should not be a problem. Just make sure you give a recommendation back. 

Use your Intuition before you take risks

Repeat after me: My intuition is never wrong. 

Forget about people who tell you you can't make it, as long as you are not risking your life of course! These people are probably too scared to follow their own dreams, so they want people to live their same miserable lives. Once you start taking risks, life will take you places that will make you uncomfortable, but that's where you'll grow.

And happens if you fail, you ask? You will have a life lesson and a damn good story to tell. 

How are you coping with the crisis after María?

Until next time, 

María Elena

Books That Helped Me Get Through 2016

Books, Lifestyle, wellnessMaría Elena RodríguezComment
Pic via:  Paper Chasing

Pic via: Paper Chasing

I am going to be totally honest with you guys and tell you that I am not the most disciplined reader out there. I wish I was. But the reality is that I really have to push myself to keep reading a book I started, but once I'm hooked, I won't put it down. 

As some of you know, this blog is not only my hobby, it's my passion. So I dedicate most of my free time to writing, interviewing people and taking pictures for this blog. Needless to say, I hardly have time to sit down and read. That's why I have found that my favorite kind of books (to get hooked on) are inside the business and self-help categories. I find that I grow the most as a person when I read them. 

Here's a list of the top books that have made a significant difference in my life, specially during 2016, which wasn't a great year for most. And best of all, these are all written by amazing women. 

Hope you enjoy!

And please, let me know in the comments bellow what are your book recommendations for 2017! :)

The Woman I Wanted to Be by Diane Von Fustenberg

If you haven't read this book yet, please take a second to go purchase it and then come right back to this post. I'll wait. :) 

People may think this book is about fashion and the luxury lifestyle, but it is so much more than that. This woman is as human as it gets. The way she writes feels so intimate and unique. The first chapter is all about her mother and how she survived the Holocaust, in which I dare you not to cry. Then she goes over her fabulous life as a designer, her days of glory, her loves and her heartbreaks.

Everything she writes feels genuine, and even though it is a rather lavish lifestyle, you can't help but feel identified with her.

How did this book helped my life? I understood that being vulnerable is part of the human nature. Once you forget about what other people think and start doing what you love while being kind to yourself and others, life is even more beautiful. I posted a beautiful blog post about this on Instagram

Grab the The Woman I Wanted to Be here.  

#Girlboss by Sophia Amouruso

Pic via  The It Girl

Pic via The It Girl

Even though I actually read this book back in 2014, I thought I would add it to this list since the lessons I learned from her were on the back of my mind the entire year for listening to her amazing Podcast. If there is any chance you haven't read this book, please go ahead and buy it. It is the first book you need to read if you are a woman (or man) who wants to have her own creative business one day. 

Needless to say, she is irreverent, hardworking, a go-getter and a badass, which is why I can't wait for her upcoming Netflix show! :D

What did I learn from #Girlboss? It doesn't matter where you come from or what you went through in your past, as long as you have the grit and attitude to accomplish your goals. The only limits are put there by yourself. 

Grab #Girlboss here

PS: I am currently reading her newest book Nasty Galaxy. I'll let you know my thoughts once I finish it! 

Pic via  NYT

Pic via NYT

I was the first person completely skeptical about that "Life Changing" title, but my goodness was it true! I have taken her techniques not only to my home, but into my office environment, agendas, purses and even my way of thinking. 

But I won't get into too many details since I already wrote a blog post about this book here. I suggest you go check it out. :)

I will tell you what I learned from the Konmari Method: The more you simplify your surroundings and the less things you have, the happier you'll be. Simple as that. Pun intended. 

Grab the book here

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Pic via  You.co

Pic via You.co

Last but certainly not least is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, the same author who wrote Eat Pray Love. But this time, the book is more of a self help guide for people who feel a little bit lost in there career and specially people who put too much pressure in themselves. 

It makes a great gift too! I bought this for my sister as a Christmas present and she's loving it. 

What did I get out of Big Magic? That creativity can come out of nowhere and you need to be ready for her. It doesn't matter where you are in life, listen to her. She will always guide you in the right direction. 

Grab the book here

Until next time, 

María Elena

*If you enjoyed this post, please don't forget to share it with your friends or comment bellow with your thoughts! You can also subscribe to my newsletter. These are the best ways to support ambinityblog.com and it helps me know you are enjoying this type of content. :)  

Grab the books mentioned here:

https://thepointmag.com/2015/examined-life/paper-chasing