Yolanda is a 63-year old grandmother and seamstress. Her days consist of taking care of her plants, her family and her business. She is happy with what she has and who she has become.
“Peace, this is what success means to me. My business is small and I don’t want it to grow anymore. This is exactly how I want my life to be,” she said.
As Yolanda and her husband prepare to retire, she reflects on the road that has led her to where she is today. She arrived in Austin as a refugee more than 30 years ago after her husband was kidnapped and threatened to death in her native Mexico. They chose to settle in Austin, Texas because at that time, the city reminded them of home.
“Austin had this small-town vibe and I fell in love with it and its people,” she remembers.
As a young mother of three who didn’t know anyone in Austin, Yolanda found it difficult to continue her career as a seamstress, while also trying to help keep her household afloat. “I did a little bit of everything, I cleaned houses, offices, anything I could do to help my husband out,” she said.
During those initial years, the now peaceful grandmother started experiencing panic attacks. “One day on my way to work, I had to stop in the middle of the road, I couldn’t breathe or move,” she said.
Gradually, the panic attacks started coming more and more often. Yolanda had to leave her job and became fully dependent on her husband and three sons, who took turns watching over her.
“I suddenly stopped driving and going to places by myself, there were triggers everywhere,” she said.
It took Yolanda more than 10 years to gradually control her anxiety. And one day, while sitting on her couch, Yolanda decided she wanted something more out of life. She wanted to create something.
“Shortly after, I met Susana, she had just joined JUST, and when I heard her talk about the community of powerful women who support each other, I knew it was just where I needed to be,” she remembers.
Yolanda’s JUST journey was not linear. At first, she did not know what type of business she wanted to create, so she started selling jewelry for a multi-level company. She did not feel passionate about it, but it was a start.
One day, Yolanda met with Steve Wanta, CEO of JUST, and he asked her if she had a talent or a passion she could turn into a business. “I told him I was a seamstress a long time ago, and he was the one who encouraged me to make this hobby of mine a business,” she said.
Yolanda used her first JUST loan to buy a sewing machine and little by little, her business kept growing. Her support group helped her get the word out and today Yolanda has loyal clients who keep recommending her to other people.
“It is hard to express how grateful I am for all of the women at JUST. They gave me the motivation I needed to let go of my fears and my anxieties,” she said with tearful eyes and a smile.
Today, Yolanda hosts sewing workshops in her house. She exclusively coaches other JUST entrepreneurs interested in the world of fashion and custom alterations. The 63 year-old grandmother enjoys being called a teacher and sharing her knowledge with other women.
“I always tell my students, it doesn’t matter if you are 36 or 60, if you have a dream, it is never too late to start. Look at me, I’m 60 something and thriving,” she said.