In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re spotlighting Stratus Building Solution’s very own Karla Ramirez and her mother, Carmen. That said, this duo deserves a spotlight every month. They have quite an inspiring story!
Before Karla Ramirez, 34, and her mother, Carmen Malagon, 51, went into business together, they dreamed of a better life.
Karla was born and raised in Mexico City, but when she was in the second grade, her life veered into another direction: her parents, Carmen and Eduardo, separated. Suddenly, she and her younger brother, Eduardo, were shuttling back and forth between two households. Money was tight, and Carmen made the decision to move to the United States and look for work. That was in 1998. In 2002, she sent for her daughter.
“It was not easy,” Karla says of those days.
When Karla finished school, she started working alongside her mother. For years, they had two jobs – working at a cafeteria in the morning, and in the afternoon, they were employed at a fast food restaurant. As you can imagine, two part-time jobs without benefits only barely pays the bills.
But while Karla and her mother toiled away, they were learning a lot, especially at the fast food restaurant. Karla started out as a cashier and worked her way up to store manager. “There,” she says, “we learned the skill of how to run a business and the art of dealing with clients.”
In 2009, Karla and Carmen learned about Stratus Building Solutions. They liked the business model and appreciated that the unit franchise opportunity is one of the lowest franchise buy-ins in the industry.
“We started with a $5,000 package that we did not have the money for, so we had to use our credit cards to start,” Karla says. “We decided to enter Stratus because we wanted something of ours. We already had many years working for someone else.”
Starting the business wasn’t easy either. There were a lot of long days and nights. Still, slowly and surely, Karla and Carmen found clients – and kept them – and started hiring employees.
That was intimidating, Karla admits. “Because you not only have to think about the other people who depend on you,” she says.
But today, nine years later, they have 20 employees. Mom and daughter don’t have titles – they’re just co-owners and partners. “She is in charge of the employees, and I of the clients,” Karla says.
If there’s a secret to her and her mother’s success, Karla says that it’s simply that they haven’t given up when times have been tough. “To have your own business isn’t easy, but it’s worth fighting for your dreams. I have been with Straus for nine years, and we’ve had ups and downs, but from each fall, we have learned and thus constantly improve.”
The business keeps her very busy, Karla says. “I don’t have much free time. For now, I invest all my time in my personal development and how to improve my business,” she says, adding that her hard work is probably hurting her social life: “It isn’t easy in my culture to have a partner when you are an enterprising woman.”
Karla couldn’t be happier being a business owner, however. She is able to send her brother and father, who both work at a store in Mexico, financial assistance when they need it, and she says she has learned a lot being a business owner.
“Having my own business taught me to be persistent, discipline, effort, hard work, relationships and also financial education,” she says. “And it’s taught me that everything that happens depends on you and no one else. We have results because we work hard and are always willing to give the extra mile.”