From Import and Export, Insurance Agent, Interpreter, Consultant, to Becoming a Painting Contractor
Where are you from?
I’m from Jacmel, Haiti. I used to vacation in the United States with my family. Because of political instability, I would also spend more time in the United States, and when things got better I would go back to Haiti. I started living here permanently in 1995.
Tell me about some of the jobs you had before owning your business.
When I was 18, I worked in a deli in Manhattan. John F. Kennedy Junior used to always come in there, so that was nice. When I moved back to Haiti, I worked in an import-export business that my family owned. I also was a life insurance agent, and I did some work as a timeshare sales person. After that I became a court interpreter. That’s what really got me started in the Haitian community. I was the official interpreter for the City of Miami. When it comes to interpreting, I’ve done it all.
What did you do after your career as an interpreter?
I was the community outreach advisor to the North Miami CRA. I was also the communication assistant to the City of Miami. I held those two jobs as a consultant. Following that, I started the radio show. As a consultant I saw a lot of information and resources that weren’t reaching the Haitian community. So I started the radio show to fill that gap.
What was the hardest part about doing the radio show?
As a woman, it was difficult because it was a predominantly male industry. It was difficult finding sponsors, and people didn’t understand the concept because my show was geared toward helping the community. Most of the topics I discuss on the show have to do with parenting, legal issues, health and social issues that the community is dealing with, as well as current events. The show started on Sundays for one hour, and within a year the show became an everyday show.
What other businesses do you have?
I have worked on many things, but in 2009 I became a painting contractor. My company paints the interiors and exteriors of homes for the construction industry. I allow people to live life in full color, as I like to say.
What challenges have you faced with your businesses?
In my painting business I work with all kinds of people, and they are all men. So sometimes it can be challenging.
“My advice is to know your craft. Apply yourself. Know that when you’re just starting out, no one will have pity on you. Just keep going.”
What advice would you give to a young person looking to start a business?
My advice to them is to know your craft. Apply yourself. Know that when you’re just starting out, no one will have pity on you. Just keep going. Keep your integrity at all costs, because the money is not worth your integrity. When it comes to competition, compete with yourself, because you will never go out of style.
Did you ever expect your radio show to be successful in one year?
One thing about me is that when I start something, I play it day by day. I work to make it successful, but I’m not looking toward the end. I take it step by step. One thing I have learned on radio is to use the challenges that I have faced to grow. Starting out it was very difficult to find sponsors, which led me to start Sak Pase Media. This created the opportunity for me to find advertising and help others find advertising also. So I was able to open doors – not just for me, but for others as well.
Are you associated with any non-profit organizations?
I’ve learned through different trainings and experiences that everything you learn or have you can share with other people. I started Positive Impact Foundation, and I found that, when you have an organization, not many people will give back to your dream. So I changed the organization to Alliance for Progress. I am a master trainer for the Fatherhood Initiative. I’ve also worked with a program called “I Need My Dad”.
Any final words for the reader?
Yes. When working in the community, we have to learn to work together and help each other. We need to respect each other, especially when it comes to business. If anyone needs more information about me, they can go to sakpasemedia.com. I also have a TV show called Sak Pase TV Show.
“When working in the community, we have to learn to work together and help each other.”