In Conversation with Flor de Maria Rivera of Flor de Maria

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Describe your business in a few words?

Handcrafted, high-end, stylish and comfortable shoes for the Queen in you. 

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

I have loved shoes for as long as I can remember, and I always dreamt of having a shoe line one day.  My mom says that when I was about three years old, I used to walk around the house wearing her heels! Even after collecting almost 500 pairs of shoes, I still couldn’t find what I was looking for, and that’s when I decided to start my eponymous brand; quality, versatility, style and comfort were all key aspects in the creation of “Flor de Maria”. I want every woman to feel like a Queen the second they slip on my shoes.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I worked in the Sports industry for 12 years as a Sports Producer/Reporter, anchor and then as a Publicist. Recently, I’ve been using my on-air talent to use by working in the fashion industry as a beauty/style expert and an influencer for various publications. 

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Honestly, not in my previous life while working in sports. When I made the move from Sports to Fashion, I basically became my own boss – I’ve had my own business for the past ten years – I realized I’d rather work 100 hours a week for myself than 40 for somebody else. 

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

I’ve been lucky that I have a lot of connections in Latin Media, so I was featured in different publications and unveiled my first collection on live TV. I also know a few influencers that were able to talk about my brand on their social media. But other than that, my marketing has consisted of social media and word of mouth. 

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

Honestly, I could go on and on about this one, but I want to stay tight lipped and not blow up anyone’s spot. All I will say is make sure you have everything in writing, all your photos, website and anything digital backed up, and try to stay ahead of schedule because you never know when those contracts and back-ups will come in handy, otherwise you will be paying a lot of money out-of-pocket to correct something or redo something. 

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

I’m most proud of the fact that I was able to invest in myself, and found the courage to change careers, reinvent myself [multiple times], and start and self-fund my brand.  

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

Where do you see yourself in five years? That’s my go to question. I want to see if they see themselves with the company in the future, or if it’s something momentarily. I’m usually able to tell how passionate they really are about my brand. I’ve learned that you can teach everything, but you can’t teach passion. 

I also like to know about their personal lives and hobbies outside of work because that gives me a better understanding of their values/morals, and if they are a good fit with the company’s culture. 

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

The first few months were tough; the uncertainty of whether life would resume to business as usual felt like a thing of the past, but now, I have been extremely lucky and blessed that my sales have increased throughout the pandemic; I’ve been able to sell out on some shoes and my customer retention has been 90%. 

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

I’m hoping to start doing Pop Up shops next year and one day to have stores in California, Miami and NY. 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

I understand for many people it has been a really tragic year and it’s really sad what’s happening with the pandemic and everything else going on in this country. But for me, I needed this break, I was on a plane 3 times a month, sometimes up to 5 and it feels good to be home. I’m the type of person who has to make the best out of the situation so I don’t let myself get down, I remain positive even through chaos, because I know this too shall pass – not sure if that makes sense, so honestly that’s why I’ve learned to never give up (if I would have, my shoe line would of been history)  keep pushing (I dropped new shoes when people told me not to, and I sold out of 3 of them), to not take anything or anybody for granted. 

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

Not to drive yourself crazy if something goes wrong, because everything will work itself out in the end. 

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

I try to stay positive and block outside noise: I meditate, pray and exercise. I’m very guarded with my energy and who has access to me – no energy vampires in my space. 

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

I do, but to be honest with you when you are starting a business, it’s hard to have balance, so right now I work all the time, including weekends. 

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

When I was younger, I had an alter ego, her name is Franchesca – she was to me what Sasha Fierce was to Beyonce. My boost of confident femininity with a touch of sass and no-nonsense attitude. Dancing on a bar? Nope, that was Franchesca. Franchesca would be my go-to gal every time I went out with my friends. She is kind of retired now, but she brings me back great memories. You can definitely expect a Franchesca shoe down the line, and trust me, it will be FUN! 

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

Make a to-do list, prioritize tasks and limit social media time.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you? 

Being an Entreprenista means to be a passionate Queen boss who chases her dreams in heels, of course. An Entreprenista is a woman who turns her passion into a business by working hard, staying focus and true to herself, being resilient, determined, disciplined, humbled, consistent and has strong morals and values. A woman who doesn’t take no for an answer and is a leader in her own way – she pushes and inspires other woman to up their game – all while showing gratitude, love and compassion. 

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