by CHRISTINA M. ORIEL
ON a Saturday morning in January, 92 Filipina women congregated at the backyard of a hillside home east of downtown Los Angeles for a half-day business and wellness retreat.
They spread out their yoga mats, where they would spend the next two hours being led through an opening ritual by an albularya (a traditional folk herbalist and spiritual healer), a 40-minute yoga practice, a guided meditation, and a talk about creating a vision for 2019.
Each participant signed up for three of nine workshops (called “Kumare Circles”) centered on business, personal development and wellness. Options included “Plant Based Cooking for the Busy Queen Bee,” “Manage Your Money Like a Boss Babe,” “Creating Intention Through Mantras and Mala Beads (by TV personality Giselle Tongi),” and “Decolonizing Self Care.”
After the sessions — during which cheers, tears, hugs, and numbers were exchanged — a lunch was prepared by Filipina-owned food companies like Spread the Love, Ninong’s Pastries & Cafe, Créme Caramel and Cafe 86.
Organized by LA-based Entrepinayship, this gathering for Filipina entrepreneurs, those thinking of starting a business, and those juggling a side hustle with a 9 to 5 job, was the first time many would be surrounded by this amount of Filipina professionals and feel spoken to through shared experiences. As several remarked, the energy was unparalleled, especially in a women-dominated environment that could stereotypically be competitive and catty.
Building a movement
Numerous reports have noticed the trend of women starting businesses more than ever in the United States — from 2017 to 2018, an American Express report found that there were 1,821 new women-owned businesses started on an average day. It also illustrated that 12.3 million firms were owned by women, generating $1.8 trillion in revenue last year.
When looking at the Asian American population, 51.1 percent of Filipino businesses in the U.S. identify a woman owner. That’s 98,849 out of 193,336 Filipino businesses, according to Census Bureau data between 2007 and 2012.
Marketing advisor Roslynn Alba Cobarrubias, who co-founded and sold global talent discovery platform mydiveo for $7.4 million, said a platform like Entrepinayship has made her feel less alone and is a safe space to ask questions — which she still has a lot of despite being a serial entrepreneur — without being judged.
“For a long time, I felt that there wasn’t a group of women that understood exactly the challenges that I went through. A lot of the times in other rooms, [I would be] afraid of being judged so we have to pretend to know everything in fear of not being taken seriously,” Cobarrubias said, adding “I didn’t have this support throughout my career nor in recent years so it was great to be surrounded by Pinays who are welcoming, sensitive and helpful [because] we care in a different kind of way.”
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