Jenn Valez | WE RULE Partner
Around Eco is a social enterprise that uses fashion as a vehicle for change; we create premium quality travel-inspired t-shirts, that are good for the planet and the people. The t-shirts are made up of 60% organic cotton and 40% recycled plastic bottles. They are also Fair Trade Certified™, supporting better working conditions for farmers, factory workers and women’s empowerment in India. To avoid the waste of resources, all the designs are made to order, designed and hand pressed in NYC.
We believe that each one of us has the power to change the world, protect the environment, and better the lives of others and future generations.
It would be a dream to be mentored by… Jennifer Lopez because of her work ethic. She is unstoppable and constantly reinventing herself. I do not see her as just a celebrity, I see her as a badass businesswoman, who is also Puerto Rican!
New York is an amazing city to do business in because… there is so much opportunity here! There are always networking events and workshops as well as communities that empower and support women to create their own businesses. WE RULE and WE NYC are perfect examples of this.
If I could get advice from one person (dead or alive) it would be Maya Angelou because her story is incredible, she was a woman who lived her life to inspire generations and she has the simplest iconic quotes to live by.
The most exciting innovation to me is… technology in general. It's amazing how quickly the world is becoming smaller and how you can reach out to people and learn from anyone, almost instantly.
Can you share a story from an event or a meeting that happened because of WE NYC that influenced you in any way? Why was it impactful?
On September 20th 2017, I scheduled a WE NYC group mentor session with Lynn Gray (an awesome human being and mentor), which was the same day that Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. I spent the entire morning trying to reach out to my family and friends living in Puerto Rico with no luck. I was watching the news and growing increasingly concerned, so I started contacting all the airlines. Again I had no luck. It was just impossible to get a hold of the situation. The mentor session was schedule for 12pm, and I also invited an aspiring woman entrepreneur to join me for the meeting, it was going to be the first time she and I met in person. I really did not wanted to go all the way to Harlem (I live in Astoria) after dealing with an entire morning of being very emotional and feeling frustrated and desperate. However, I had already confirmed with Lynn and the other woman that I would be attending meeting. I got to the meeting pretty late and after everyone introduce themselves. After a few minutes into the meeting Lynn ask me to introduce myself and I remember saying; “Hi everyone, I’m so sorry I’m late” and then I started to cry. Everyone in the room was so caring and supportive, they made me feel that I wasn’t alone. I will never forget that. The woman that I was there to meet is now a dear friend with an incredible business and we have been walking side-by-side on this social entrepreneurial journey .
What do you think is amazing about doing business in New York? What resources do the women entrepreneurs of NYC need?
I think NYC is amazing because of the vast amount of people you meet from all over the world. People here are from all different backgrounds with great ideas and stories. For business, it is extremely important to always be around people who you can learn from and who will make you think differently. In NYC we have a lot of resources, but money is a resource that small businesses and women entrepreneurs always need to be able to thrive in the first few years of building their business.
What did you want to do when you were a child? What changed since? Why?
As a child I wanted to be a nurse, I always wanted to take care of people.
What changed since? Traveling! I started traveling and gaining new perspectives. I moved from one country to another and realized that while I had other passions, but that I can still accomplish what I always wanted to do (take care of people) and that has never changed.
What are your favorite business tools and/or resources and why?
Facebook, Instagram: follow me @aroundeco! I only have an online presence, and social media has been great for my business.
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