Latin Times Magazine: Tell us how you got started as a business woman.
Ana Rivera: I originally went to school for Fashion Design up in NYC, attending Traphagen School of Fashion through a full scholarship. After I completed my program I started working in my field. I did this for over 20 years, during those yearsI also learned about Fashion Merchandising, Private Labeling and Product Development. In 1985, I moved to Puerto Rico and there is where I was able to use all of my background to become a buyer for a chain of stores then called NY Department Stores of Puerto Rico (of whom were bought out by the Marshall’s stores). I also worked for JC Penney as a Merchandise Manager and local buyer of ladies costume and fine jewelry on the island.
Latin Times Magazine: Tell us about your position with the Mayor’s office and with the PR/Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, what are some of the initiatives or goals that you have set for your time as president.
Ana Rivera: In November of 2014, I approached, then Mayor Wiggs and explained to him the importance of such a group and the importance of leaving a legacy. We reviewed the bylaws and how we were going to roll out such a group. My objective and mission was to get those Hispanics informed of city officials’ decisions on major issues involving each and every citizen. Teach them of how business is conducted within the walls of the city and the officials they knew nothing about. That was one of the missions, the other was to build an outreach program on getting more Latinos to vote in the local elections. Finally cultivating a candidate to fill those shoes of an elected official into the city commission and ultimately in the future perhaps a Latino Mayor. After the initial meeting we found ourselves with the Mayor being Chair, myself as vice chair, a secretary, treasurer and 4 groups with representations of ambassadors of the various areas our Latino brothers and sisters come from. For example:
The Caribbean South America, North America, Central America and Europe.
As for the chamber, it is in its 8th year now, and we have accomplished much, but one of the main factors here has been to not only bring awareness of our community, but of our culture and our businesses, much through constant branding of our organization and its members. Just last year we did something that has not been heard of in our county and that was to perform a goodwill articulation signing with those local chambers from various cities in our county. This of course happened during our Business Convention for The Americas: Mission Florida while our keynote speaker Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez Cantera witnessed this great moment for our chamber and its members.
Additionally we as a chamber went to the Florida Expo in San Juan last March and promoted our county and its businesses. This was a wonderful but bittersweet moment.
Latin Times Magazine: What in your opinion has been your greatest achievement in your life as a leader in business & community.
Ana Rivera: In 1998 I worked for a children’s pajama company and I hadn’t been in the design field for some years now since moving to Puerto Rico. I convinced the company I worked for to give me a shot and if it didn’t work I could be released. I never let them know that I could not work on an Apple computer, design work now was not by hand, it was all created on computers. But I took the challenge to learn on my own time to prove that I could. I was able to develop a program for Wal-Mart as a private label program for an infant’s 3 pk pajama set and they loved the concept and purchased close to a million dollars, wholesale, in product for a program called “Small Steps”. That definitely solidified my position at the company. So I had a job for a while, thank God!
Presently with the chamber, I have much to be thankful for, not only to those who have opened their doors to my enthusiasm but also for the opportunity to work for our community. Not only through the work I do with the chamber and the various boards I sit on but through my strength, I get through God. He guides me in everything I do. Sometimes I listen, sometimes I don’t. But my instinct comes from him and that never lets me down. Plus my family, they’re my cheering team and also my team that tells me it’s time to chill.
Latin Times Magazine: What has been your greatest obstacle, and how did you overcome it?
Ana Rivera: Time. I would say that is my obstacle. There is only 24 hours a day and at times it’s just not enough. So I try to take it one day at a time. After all I didn’t come up with that concept of time. LOL