September is not only an exciting month that helps us transition from summer to fall and geek out over the latest fashion trends; it’s also a time for celebrating culture. Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to pay tribute to the inspiring entrepreneurs, customs and creations from this community within the United States.
At Covey, we’re super lucky to learn from and experience Hispanic leadership firsthand through our co-founder, Christina Garcia. Christina credits her upbringing to much of her success as an inspiring leader with a passion for growth, simplicity, and supporting other females. Learn more about her family’s history, how her Hispanic values have impacted her career, and more:
Tell us about your family’s Hispanic heritage.
Christina Garcia: My father's family is originally from the south of Spain, and then they eventually made their way to Cuba. Then my father immigrated to Miami, Florida, with his family when he was nine years old.
They lived in Guantanamo Bay and worked in a sugarcane factory there. When Fidel Castro took over, they decided to flee, and they took one of Cuba's freedom flights to Miami. At the time, Castro was not allowing citizens to bring anything with them — not even a suitcase.
My dad always recalls that he had a watch when he was walking onto the plane, and they took it from him. So they settled in Miami when he was about nine.
He then grew up in Miami, went to law school, and met my mom. At the time, he was working as an Assistant State Attorney and she was a victims witness advocate. Fast forward a few years later, and they welcomed me into the world!
How have your Hispanic values impacted you as an entrepreneur?
CG: My father and his family have taught me three kinds of family values that really relate to Covey.
The first is being fearless. My dad came to this country with his parents and sister, and no one spoke any English, and no one had a job. I think about that all the time because I believe immigrating to another country is one of the most courageous things anyone can do. I cannot even imagine it.
My dad always tells us about when he went to a private school in Jacksonville, his name was initially Jesus, but they would just call him Jesus in class. So he had to change his name — and he has no middle name. Talk about bravery!
In starting a company, there are so many things daily that I have to explore that I'm not familiar with. It is incredibly uncomfortable. And I always try to remind myself of their experiences and just be as fearless as possible.
The second value that he's taught me is to be fiercely driven. He came to this country; he didn't speak English, worked incredibly hard at school, went to law school, and became a criminal law professor. And then, he eventually ascended to become the first Cuban-born American dean of a law school in the United States of America. I try to follow in his footsteps, and I'm fiercely driven with Covey. I think you need to have this attitude daily with running a startup.
I truly believe that Covey addresses a challenge that so many of us have with our skincare routines, and it's so incredibly overwhelming. But I’m so committed to getting Covey into the hands of as many people as possible because I do believe that it can transform your skin and make your life a lot simpler and easier. People should be able to have great skin without all the stress.
The third value is to really value and love your family. My Abuela and Abuelo (grandma and grandpa) were some of the most loving people in my life. They gave me undying love, and they were so incredibly supportive of everything that I did. I try to apply that to my leadership approach.
Everyone who works at Covey is like family to me, and Covey is like a baby. Obviously, Emily and I were best friends before we started Covey. We have that extraordinary relationship, but I think that everyone who works at Covey, I try and carry that throughout all of my interactions and really value them and treat them with respect.
How do you hope to inspire other aspiring Hispanic entrepreneurs?
CG: What I hope to teach other aspiring Hispanic entrepreneurs is that there are negative stereotypes about Hispanic people like many other minorities in this country. And my biggest piece of advice is that do not let those stereotypes hold you back or hold you down.
It's so easy to let them really define you. I've been able to watch my dad excel despite those stereotypes, and the respect that he's been able to have and gain throughout his career has been incredible.
The other thing that I would want to share is that the Hispanic community is an incredibly powerful one. It's something that I’ve been able to benefit from in starting Covey. It’s also something that was instilled in me by my father and my grandparents. They had such an incredible group around them that supported them when they first came to Miami and really helped them out. So I think that’s just a huge asset for us.
What do you love about being Hispanic?
CG: I'm just so proud of the values that have been instilled in me as a Hispanic person. No matter what, we are about putting family first and treating people with love and respect. That is something that my grandparents instilled in me when I was very young. And they also value hard work and dedication. I love that.
They're also a community that is very committed to their traditions as well. In this day and age, it’s a big commitment, and I think any minority community can really resonate with it. I think the commitment to traditions is incredibly beautiful, and I’m thankful for it in my life.