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A survivor's path to entrepreneurship

Guillermina Rodríguez (right) being interviewed by morning TV show host Leslie Montoya (left).

Guillermina Rodríguez (right) being interviewed by morning TV show host Leslie Montoya (left).  

Eight years ago, Guillermina decided to turn her life around while washing dishes at a Mexican restaurant, her first job after arriving in the United States. 

At the time, Guillermina was in an abusive relationship with her now ex-husband. Her fear of leaving him and having nowhere to go with her two young boys made her stay longer than she wished she had.

“I knew I didn’t want to stay there forever, so I began exploring the idea of starting my own side hustle,” she remembered. 

Not knowing English and living paycheck to paycheck, the resourceful mother and entrepreneur decided to sell Coca Cola cans on the street. She bought a cooler and operated her small business from her van, focusing on areas with construction sites. 

“It’s funny, I don’t even know if that counts as a business, I guess it was a mini business,” she said laughing. 

Guillermina and her two sons in 2007. Jose, 11 (left) and David, 15 (right).

Guillermina and her two sons in 2007. Jose, 11 (left) and David, 15 (right).

It wasn’t until the day that her abusive ex-husband tried to kick her out of his moving vehicle while traveling on I-35 when Guillermina decided she had to leave. 

“At that moment I decided nothing was going to bring me down. It was only me and my two boys, they depended on me and I had to be strong,” she said. 

Guillermina left. During the years following her separation she held many different jobs and side hustles. Her dream of one day having a business of her own became a reality after she got married to her now husband, who is also an entrepreneur. 

“We own a tire shop here in San Marcos. My husband does the fixing and I take care of the finances and everything else in between,” she said. Promotional photograph of Guillermina and her husband Daniel.

Promotional photograph of Guillermina and her husband Daniel.

Shortly after, Guillermina decided to join JUST. She used the loans to grow her business, and the supportive community to grow her self-confidence. 

“It may sound cliché, but JUST is the best thing that ever happened to me, it brought me stability, peace, and also, the women, they have helped me find my power,” she said.

When the pandemic hit, Guillermina’s business took a plunge. Nevertheless, the 48 year-old entrepreneur took it upon herself to learn about marketing through social media,while also learning the basics of operating a computer. After a few weeks, Guillermina gained new customers and managed to get her tire shop to appear first on Google when searching for tire shops in San Marcos.

“Before, I used to cry and feel smaller than my problems. Now, I breathe and reflect. There is a solution for everything if you have patience,” she said. 

2021 has brought Guillermina many new challenges. From being infected with COVID-19 and having to fight for her life, to having her apartment flood during the winter storm. Challenges she says, are not enough to bring her down anymore.

“Every experience in life is a lesson that helps you keep going forward, and I am ready to take on everything life throws my way,” she said. 

Guillermina is a JUST entrepreneur and part-time employee. Follow her business via Facebook at Rodriguez Tire Shop #2.

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