Inside the Life of a Factory Worker

Everyone has a story. Being able to give a voice to an untold story is what inspired me to become a writer in the first place. I was lucky enough to pitch and write this investigative piece titled “Behind the Label and Inside Maquiladoras” for Urban Latino, which highlights the experiences of several factory workers in Mexico and Nicaragua. For those of you who don’t know, a maquiladora is a sweatshop that offers low pay and poor working conditions for its workers. As a first generation born American, the piece was personal since my mother and aunt also worked as factory workers when they first came to this country from Cuba. Of course, their experiences are different, but I think the common thread is the struggle strong women face to provide a better life for their families.

I remember interviewing Zulema Mena Garay and instantly feeling connected to my deceased grandmother who also shares her last name. As she explained her daily routine of working in a sweatshop and having a production quota of 5,000 shorts per day, I kept imagining myself in the same position. I didn’t get very far. I was so inspired by her strength and determination to fight for her rights as a factory worker. She later joined a non-profit organization named Nueva Vida, which allows women to become business partners and earn rightful assets for their work. In essence, she was a part of a revolution dismantling the oppressive cycle clothing corporations currently have on Latin America and other countries.

I hope you enjoy the piece and share your thoughts on the topic. Do you make it a point to support sweatshop-free apparel? I’m not sure if shopping at Forever 21 counts.



The Power Of Beauty: Getting Underneath Your Cover-Up

I was asked to write a guest blog for “The Power of Beauty” website for DermHa, a natural skincare line. Check it out below!

Ever since I was in grammar school, my mother would powder me up and add blush to my cheeks before walking to school. She would say, “This is so you won’t look so pale. Que linda. (How pretty).” I looked in the mirror and felt beautiful with my Cover Girl-covered face. There I was, a bilingual kid with an accent who wanted acceptance more than anything else in the world. If my mother told me that makeup made me look prettier-I believed her. What I was unaware of was how those early years would mark my relationship with makeup and its relation to beauty as an adult.

When I think about not wearing make-up publicly now, a voice inside of me is saying, ‘no just some under-eye concealer, mascara and lip gloss please!’ I should be able to walk around barefaced from time to time, but why don’t I feel comfortable? I don’t lack inner beauty or self-confidence. So what is the problem here? After reading a women’s magazine blog post, I sent an email out to some of my close girlfriends asking them to challenge that voice along with me and not wear makeup in public. No one wanted to join my made up makeup revolution.

As a Latina, a lot of my earliest life lessons with beauty and makeup were cultural. We take pride in looking good for ourselves and others. It is ingrained in us from the time we are able to walk, but the bigger picture is also society’s view on the ‘power of beauty’. We are living in a society that teaches little girls that looks are a part of who we are and sometimes, that looks are everything. Ad campaigns, magazines, and reality television shows don’t help the idea either.

After taking the challenge on my own, I realized that the voice or idea that we can’t be beautiful without makeup is conditioned. It runs deep and normally it takes looking in the mirror and talking to that little girl with the Cover Girl-covered face. There is nothing wrong with makeup. It sparks our creativity and makes us feel good, but when we become dependent on it, then we need to have a little makeup challenge–even if it means just going to the grocery store without anything (and I mean anything) on. I challenge you to do the same.




How To Survive A Blogging Trial Interview

We all know how the cycle goes. You open up your favorite job searching sites and start shopping for your favorite job titles. Since the economic downturn, I have altered my selection process to also include ‘jobs I can kinda see myself doing,’ ‘jobs I am over-qualified for but include health benefits,’ and ‘part-time jobs that I definitely see myself doing.’ Creating variety for myself has seemed to help a bit.

I recently got written back for a part-time writing position at I got super excited once I found out that the modern parenting site averages about 1 million viewers a month. They skipped the face-to-face interview as a first step and got me started right away on a 2-day trial blogging interview. That required creating 5 blogs a day, 25% original content and 75% re-purposed or previously reported content. I have also experienced similar interview processes at Sirius XM, Clear Channel, and MTV Networks, which consisted of four rounds of face-to-face interviews and a week of trial blogging.

Trial blogging or sample writing is the main step to obtaining an online editorial position nowadays. I have succeeded in many trials, but also received no call backs from many others. Sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly what the hiring manager or editorial director is looking for, but I have a few survival tips that always help me out.

1. Study the site you are interviewing for – Sure that includes getting a feel for the voice and style of writing, but it’s also super important to look at all of their sections, figure out their top content, and how they optimize their content. This also helps you realize what elements they can improve on.

2. Find your own voice – Blogging isn’t NY Times journalism. You want your voice to shine, but also balance it out with the writing style already in place. The percentage may vary depending on what kind of site you are interviewing for. When crafting your voice always keep in mind your audience!

3. Be traffic friendly – As an editor, it is very important to make sure your writers know how to tag, categorize, and link content. It’s a huge traffic booster and shows that you know how to increase their demographic. High numbers can mean more money for you in the long run.

The scariest part of the interview process is waiting to hear back. Sometimes you will and sometimes you won’t. I have had to learn to deal with the no call backs, but I like to see it as a blind date. Sometimes you match and sometimes you don’t. The important thing is to take each step as a learning lesson. What could you have done better or differently? With this in mind the perfect gig is sure to arrive soon!

Read some of my sample blogs here and here.


Fave Reviews: Café Con Leche Serves Up Cuban Classics With Style

I love trying out Cuban restaurants in the city! It’s just as exciting as spotting new paladares to hit up on the island. The one thing I’ve learned from growing up in a half-Cuban household and traveling along the eastern and western part of the island, is that not all Cuban food is the same. Another great thing is that it’s almost always affordable cuisine. I was thrilled when I was asked to review Café Con Leche for ULM‘s Sub Urban section. Café Con Leche’s friendly staff and perfectly served up Cuban classics, like picadillo and ropa vieja, left my stomach, wallet, and heart satisfied.

Check out my restaurant review right below!


Dreaming in Colorful Promises

It’s no secret that life as a freelance writer and editor is tough. A year and a half after working as a freelance Associate Editor for MTV and finding myself in the process of reclaiming my next career move, I am left reflecting on what got me here in the first place. I have always been a passionate and hardworking individual ready to work overtime, run to a media event for an exclusive A-list interview, and give my all to a task at hand. Even with all of my hard work, I have found myself reinventing what it means to be a creative young professional during the ugliest economic recession my generation has ever experienced.

Despite the struggle, I am keeping my dreams alive and learning how to survive in this industry no matter what! I have learned that my journey has been like painting a fresh canvas and I am not done with my masterpiece just yet. The process embodies struggle, strength, and resilience. I want to dedicate this blog to sharing my story with other passionate professionals, reflecting on my favorite moments as a freelance writer, and focusing on future endeavors. I’m excited to have you join me on this journey!


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