Marisela Barbosa-Cortez of Vallejo’s Green Hive Spaces is one of this year’s winners of North Bay Business Journal’s Latino Business Leadership Awards.
Tell us your story and that of your organization:
I believe that Business is a fundamental tool for meeting economic needs- both personally & societally. Yet, business can be so much more than that... you can make your business a catalyst that promotes economic, social and environmental progress in your community.
With that in mind I founded Green Hive Spaces. As a social entrepreneur I saw the need for affordable office space and an opportunity to create a gathering community of sustainability minded solopreneur, small business owner and organizations in Vallejo. While this business idea was growing in my heart I knew that I needed to create a business model that was financially sustainable and the only way that I could see this happening was if I had full time tenants. So I set out to find my first clients and I accomplished this by sharing my idea with my husband then with friends and connections I made throughout my career. Four of those connections believe in my idea and became part of the startup tenants. It is such an amazing feeling to have a group of supporters that want to see me succeed! My co-working space is small. Our building is strategically located downtown within walking distance to the Vallejo Ferry Building & Soltrans bus terminal. In addition, we are walking distance from Vallejo City Hall and our next door neighbors include the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce. Entrepreneurs can rent a desk, conference room or workshop area space by the hour. We are open Monday thru Friday 9am-5pm.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?:
I’m very proud of my co-working space. It is very fulfilling to have my tenants and visitors complement on the great experience they had by visiting my place and talking with me.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?:
On a personal level; the opportunity to be a mother of two beautiful girls. On a professional level; my master’s degree was an investment that helped me find guidance and build confidence in myself to create something new and different in my community.
What is your biggest challenge today?:
My biggest challenge today is to stay focus on my priorities. At times, I feel like I’m a very good juggler! It is a challenge juggling motherhood, volunteer work and business in my daily schedule.
Words that best describe you: Determined, idealistic, adaptable, passionate, enthusiastic, resilient, confident, high energy
As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?:
The biggest obstacles I faced was myself. There were times that I questioned my decision making process. Once I realized that by focusing and acknowledging my strengths and skills it was much easier to stay focus and not allow self-doubt take over.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?:
I am a passionate individual and for me it is encouraging, empowering, gratifying to be a catalyst for change. I continue to see positive grow in my profession and who knows maybe a career in politics.
Who was your most important mentor?:
My father, the man that showed me that dreams do come true. We immigrated to this country because he wanted to make sure that I had a better education. I’m always thankful and admire his determination to give his family an opportunity for a better life.
Tell us about your community involvement:
My community involvement goes back to when I was a teenager started with youth group through church and it continued with civic engagement with my high School. Currently, I’m the Chairwoman of the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce (2017) and a past Chair of the First Five Solano Commission, and part of the Hispanic Advisory Committee for Travis Credit Union. I served on the 2012 board of Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee of the City of Vallejo, served as 2010-2012 President of the Solano Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Honorary Commander at Travis Air Force Base. In addition, my contributions have been recognized by the Mayor’s community recognition award in the area of advocacy for the city of Vallejo, 2014 Athena International Award from the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce, and 2017 Business of the Year award from the Solano Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
What advice would you give to a young person today?:
The advice I will give a young person today is the same advice I gave to a group of young ladies last year. Always acknowledge who you are, your roots, your own history and when you walk into a room be ready to be yourself; bring your best skills and strengths to the table ready to rock that room!
Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Anita Roddick
Current reading: “Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?”
Most want to meet: Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama for a conversation about women in leadership.
Stress relievers: I enjoy sitting outside admiring nature or 5 minute guided meditation
Favorite hobbies: I love to see birds fly, admiring nature and reading a book
Is there something we didn’t ask that you would like to add?:
Yes, I married my prince charming (Roberto) and live happily ever after with our two daughters (Cassandra, Camelia) and a four-legged friend (Eloise).