Having been born in the Dominican Republic and immigrating to the United States at a young age, Yai Vargas’ story is one many people can relate to. The cultural and social nuances along with family traditions that were gathered along the way have all been weaved into the very fabric of Yai’s brand, which includes being the creator and leader of The Latinista. As a multicultural marketing expert, Yai has worked with Fortune 100 companies to help develop their connection with the community. From building marketing strategies to community engagement programs, Yai has managed to bring the consumer into the corporation and the corporations into the communities. Read on to learn more about Yai’s inspiring story.
Ana: What prepared you for your roles within Multicultural Marketing and to create The Latinista, both in education and prior experience?
Yai: When I was in college, there was a very specific moment where I remember asking myself:
“How can I differentiate myself from all of the students here?”
The students would be receiving the same degree and possibly going for the same career opportunities in New York City. The answer came to me almost instantly. My differentiator will be my bilingualism. You have to understand that when I was in school almost 15 years ago, in New York City and in the marketing and communications space, the Hispanic surge was still on the rise and hadn’t reached it’s peak like it is current day.
I prepared myself by positioning my brand as the Hispanic market SME (subject matter expert). From that moment on, I started collecting as much data and information as possible on the Hispanic market and its buying power, its demographics, its challenges and its diversity. Every interview from college on out would position me as the Hispanic community expert.
As for The Latinista, I started listening to the women in my circles in all stages of my career. They were lacking the tools they needed to get ahead in their careers and the companies they worked for weren’t capable of developing them. I started pressing my luck for support from the companies I worked for and with good reason was able to get them to send me to conferences that would empower me. After All, the insights and development I was gaining would benefit the teams I was a part of. I started to add professional development goals as part of my annual reviews and would set goals and skills I needed to accomplish. I made professional development my responsibility.
Ana: What makes you proud of the work you do?
Yai: Progress. I love seeing women get to the next level or embark on a new journey after having learned a new skill like negotiating or the art of public speaking.
Ana: What is your passion? How do you live your “why”?
Yai: My passion lies between empowerment and professional development for women. I live my why through building dynamic workshops that encourage women to better themselves and gain new skills. I am constantly thinking of ways to cater to women’s development needs without them having to go the traditional school route. Afterall, life isn’t traditional.
Ana: What are your contributions to your community?
Yai: The Latinista was something I created out of professional development necessity – I saw that women in my generation weren’t requesting their employer’s support when it came to investing in their professional development. I noticed a great deal of women on two sides of the spectrum – those that were investing in themselves professionally with their own dollars and those that didn’t invest at all because they didn’t have the means or support from their employers.
At the end of the day, investing in one’s professional development will benefit both the employee and the employer. My contribution stems from the need to be better for yourself and for your employer. The Latinista brings educational evolution through workshops, conferences and thought leadership meetings.
Ana: What advice would you give to other professional and entrepreneurial Latinas, whether coming from other countries or already in the US, to grow in their career and professional or business objectives?
Yai: I’d encourage them to find out what their optimal learning experience is. We all learn in different ways – some online, in person, in a group or individually. At The Latinista, we bring the group experience to women seeking community learning and inspiration from others’ ideas.
Ana: Anything else you would like to share with us?
Yai: Self-promotion is everything. One must always look to celebrate their success and share their accomplishments with the greater community. Share with the intent to educate others so that they can also empower themselves with the knowledge of what you’ve learned.
Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story with us!