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Gaining Ground- A Latina’s journey to business ownership

By Janet Villarreal

Like every good interviewer, I prepare myself in advance by doing a little studying on my subject, and this was no different.  I wanted to know as much as I could about Valerie Jimenez, the Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director for My Website Pronto before our meeting, and the more I kept reading on her during my research, the more impressed I became.  She’s articulate, experienced, cultured, talented, and a genius; possessing all the qualities of a successful individual, a goal she has clearly accomplished. I continued reading through her bio and came across a jaw dropping piece of information:  Valerie Jimenez is only 25 years old.

Most of us, at this age, are still trying to figure out what to do with our lives.  Miss Jimenez not only knows what she wants, she is already living the life she always pictured for herself.  How did she do it?  Like most success stories, it all started with education and family support.  Despite her family having to move often because of her father’s work for an international company, one thing remained the same:  the value her parents had for education, always making sure their children attended the best schools, no matter where they found themselves.  “My family is a firm believer in education. As a kid, my dad often reminded us his only legacy and inheritance would be my education,” remembers Valerie.

Not only was Valerie exposed to many different cultures, where she learned to speak English and French, but it was during these travels that her creativity came to light.  At only 4 years old, during her father’s one-year stint in the US, one of her teachers discovered Valerie had a unique talent.  She decided to cultivate her new found gift, eventually landing her in the discovery of her life’s true passion.

Shortly after, Valerie’s skills had her recognized by several universities, including University College Falmouth in England, awarding her a full scholarship.  Valerie turned it down, realizing she couldn’t be so far from what she believes got her there in the first place:  her family.  Instead, Valerie continued her studies in the U.S., settling in Dallas and attending the Art Institute, graduating with her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, with a focus on Graphic Design.  Miss Jimenez soon landed a job at an advertising firm, handling the accounts of some of the biggest companies in the world.  After leaving the firm, Valerie became the Art Director for one of the largest plastic manufacturers in the world, a title that is only awarded to the best and most seasoned in this industry.

In spite of all her accomplishments, Miss Jimenez starts her own business; a move that proved to be the right one.  I sat down with Valerie to find out more about what her life’s been like since arriving in Dallas and her company, My Website Pronto.

IDFW:  I must say I’m still in shock that you would turn down the opportunity to study in England, but what attracted you to Dallas as opposed to other cities like Miami, LA, or New York, where you could have also attended The Art Institute or other great schools?

VJ:  I liked that it was a big enough city, not huge, but still lots of people and close to home in Juarez, close enough to drive to my family.  I believed Dallas had everything I needed- the metropolitan feel, the opportunity to make a great life, the glam, and it didn’t seem like a city that was very different from what I grew up with.  Surprisingly, it turned out to be very different, but in a good way.

IDFW:   Working in the field of Marketing, did you face any challenges, not just as a Latina, but also as a very young woman in an area dominated by men? 

VJ:  Thankfully, while in the workforce I never had any issues because of my race or gender.  I did have however some confrontations when I tried to open my own business. There were several people trying to discourage me and convince me that I was incapable of pursuing my goal.  Once I got past that, getting established wasn’t that difficult; in fact, I found that a lot of my clients prefer to work with a woman, because we are so much more detail-oriented.  At the beginning I felt my age may be a road block and tried my best not to disclose it; I believed some potential customers would be deterred; assuming I probably lacked the experience or discipline required to run a business or help launch one.

IDFW:  After having such a successful career and the job security while working for these other companies, what made you get out of your comfort zone and start your own? 

VJ:  I always knew that I would at some point start my own business. I remember a couple of years ago, for a scholar project; I was put to the task of strategizing and building my own business. I went through an entire year of business management and entrepreneurship training and in the end, I was taught an invaluable lesson. I learned that a business was hard work, but seeing your hard work all brought to life was an experience that I didn’t want to miss out.

A couple of years later, the opportunity of becoming an entrepreneur came, and I took it. That is something that I hold very strongly: when opportunity knocks on your door, you have to be willing to take the risk.

IDFW:  What is My Website Pronto? 

VJ:  My Website Pronto came about when we realized Bold Entity, our Marketing Communications Company, was ignoring small businesses. With Bold Entity, we take a business, find out what their goals are, what they want to communicate to their consumers and create as well as execute a marketing strategy. Typically these strategies are better suited for more established businesses, definitely not small ones.  We opened these doors by creating My Website Pronto, which provides the tools necessary for these small businesses to stand out from their competition, at an affordable price; from websites to logos, graphic design, and printing services. My Website Pronto offers web and marketing services that are easy, affordable, and accessible to small business owners.

IDFW:  Where do you see My Website Pronto in the next few years? 

VJ: I see My Website Pronto becoming the go-to company for all web and Social Media services for small businesses, especially Hispanic-owned businesses. I want to set a standard of quality in this industry, and keep adding services that help business owners succeed with their goals and plans.

IDFW:  What advice do you have for young professionals looking into the marketing and advertising field in DFW?

VJ:  Definitely love what you do, and this is true not only in marketing but for any industry.  You have to breathe, eat, and sleep with this industry, and if you don’t, maybe this isn’t for you.  It is an ever-changing industry and very competitive, so it is easy to get discouraged, but you have to keep going and fighting to maintain yourself creative, because in the end that is what we are selling.  Luckily for us, more and more people are becoming more educated on the real need of our services because consumers are demanding great design and ideas.  It is also an era where young people step out to be noticed and get to prove that we have got the courage and energy to create amazing things.  We’ve arrived at the perfect time.

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