This conversation is part of an ongoing series in celebration of National Small Business Week. Each day we’ll feature a different entrepreneur that we have served through our brick-and-mortar Centers and other small business programs. Learn more about our small business programming and meet the other entrepreneurs here.
LeLe Bombe is a social enterprise collaborating with Colombia’s third largest indigenous artisan community and connect you to handmade wearable art with a cause. They are a sustainable trading platform for underrepresented artisans, creating commercial opportunities that preserve and revitalize the craft culture of indigenous groups. Owner Alexa Simeone participated in the WE Master Leadership course to learn how to perfect her professional presentation skills. Read our interview with Alexa to learn why she thinks women entrepreneurs play a critical role in their communities, and how important it is to invest behind your passion.
What made you want to be an entrepreneur? What do you like most about being an entrepreneur?
I decided to become an entrepreneur because of the flexibility and creativity of trying new things. As a marketing and branding company, I’m able to fully handle both the vision and design aspects to marketing campaigns. I like to be able to think outside of the box and experiment by trying new things. Being an entrepreneur allows me the ability to explore and create a single brand without any restrictions.
What was your biggest challenge? How did you overcome it?
My greatest challenges lie in the areas that I’m not comfortable with. As a business owner, I can be very vocal for the brand, but I need to focus more on the presence behind the scenes. I’m currently taking more measures to learn how to incorporate social media myself. The free Marketing workshops offered through NYC Business Solutions Centers and We Master Leadership has provided me with the tools necessary to be successful.
How did you first hear about the WE NYC Program?
I heard about the We NYC Program through the Fast Trac New Venture Program. A guest speaker was invited to our program and introduced us to a suite of services and workshops designed for women entrepreneurs.
How has what you learned in the WE Master Leadership program impacted you?
The WE Master Leadership course prepared me to think strategically and perfect my presentation skills. This workshop brought together a group of women from many different backgrounds. I learned how to negotiate, how to refine my pitch, and different ways to tackle my marketing plan. The instructor brought knowledge from many sectors and was able to provide us with helpful best practices through each activity.
What are your plans for the future of your business?
My company is a social enterprise focused on collaborating with Colombia’s indigenous artisan community. It’s a platform that features and highlights the work of indigenous artisans. I’m currently working with family members from Colombia to connect me with local artists. Understanding and streamlining the methodology behind my business is my priority and I would like to eventually replicate this to all communities in South America.
What does being a woman entrepreneur mean to your family and future?
Being a woman entrepreneur allows my family to see my accomplishments. Initially, it may be intimidating to invest into your dreams and passion. However, it’s important to take the first step. This adventure may be challenging but anything is possible. Just starting your business is your first step to making your dream a reality.
In your opinion, how do women entrepreneurs impact their communities? How are you involved in your community?
Women entrepreneurs impact their communities because they are role models to others and young girls. Their success and passion can set an example to show that any dream is attainable. I am always inspired by other women entrepreneurs who are leading teams and are the faces behind big organizations.
I’m also an active member of the Rotary, an organization that provides humanitarian services. I assist the organization to create better visual branding and campaigns.
What advice do you have for other women considering becoming entrepreneurs?
Take the structural route! Take advantage of all the available resources that the city offers. Start with an idea and attend the workshops and through WE NYC, NYC Business Solutions, and FastTrac. It’s helpful to provide structure to navigate your ideas.