Meet Mia Perez, Women's Economic Empowerment Global Live Ambassador in Santa Clara County. She is the Founder and CEO of V.I.V.A. Women, an organization whose mission is to be a resource for women and empowerment to their lives. She is also a model, actress, author, and entrepreneur.
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Being A VIVA Woman!
By WEE Global Live Blogger Paloma Alcantar
What was the inspiration in your life to founding V.I.V.A., and what do you think has been the hardest to accomplish it?
The primary motivation was knowing there were women out there trying to get through life and struggling with no support. Perhaps surrounded by family and friends yet felt all alone. It’s a very sad and dark place to be in so I made a promise to God and myself in those dark moments once, and that was that I would never forget those feelings of emptiness, and I would keep it ever present so that my heart would never abandon its purpose. Because although I had people with me and around me, I dared not allow myself to be vulnerable. Knowing that if I did, they either wouldn't understand, wouldn’t believe me, or realizing that judgment and shame could very well also be the outcome. That’s why V.I.V.A. was born. A safe place where we can be real and not hide behind the mask, we wear to face the world. To give women a safe place to share struggles, resources, tools, or just “be” until you are ready to let your guard down in a community of sisterhood.
My deepest struggle was creating this space while I was still going through non-ending court battles, broke, on welfare, and how was I supposed to do it? I hesitated for about six months, and then I went all in and held my first event on July 22nd, 2017. It took that event for me to feel the confirmation in my spirit that this was God's calling on my life. I describe this all actually in my chapter of “LEAD WITH VIVA.”
See more pictures here of Mia's WEE Global Ambassador Event Project
What changes would you like to see reflected in the world in favor of women?
Yesterday was Equal Pay Day in the United States. Without going into specifics, this day is a prime time to recognize the income discrepancies between men and women in the workforce. We do see some changes as more awareness, and bold statements are being made to highlight the matter. That attention is causing companies to rethink their pay structure and pay gaps in regards to gender. However, it’s not coming fast enough, and for my fellow Latinas, we have it worse! Believe it or not, that affects us in all aspects. I have to think of it from where I stand, being a Latina, Full Time Single Mother. We work just as hard as men do, but our check reflects half the earnings of theirs. We have bills to pay, take care of children. We have equal responsibilities; we are measured by the same stick in so many ways except for financial compensation.
In 2018, approximately 16.4 million children were living with a single mother in the United States, and about 3.25 million children are living with a single father. Now, let’s think about the difference in these numbers and then marinate on the income difference. How can we expect a single mother to succeed? What I am happy to say is that we see a rise in women entrepreneurship! Entrepreneurship is one way to solve while the rest of the world catches up. For example, USATODAY.com shared:
“ In December 2017, the National Women's Business Council used the term "necessity entrepreneurship" to describe the phenomenon where women turn to business ownership as a solution to unfair workforce conditions. At a rate of about 1,800 new businesses per day, they're building a future working-class ecosystem that's radically different than the one seen today.”
We know you are doing a wonderful job in the Bay Area, but we know you want to break barriers with this movement. How can other women support you to achieve it?
V.I.V.A. is a movement where we encourage women to live their lives with VISION - INSPIRATION- VOICE- ACCEPTANCE, in a community of sisterhood that teaches us these things and how to nurture these newfound friendships. The need isn’t only here in the Bay Area; it’s everywhere. I hope to go anywhere people would want to open their chapter (if you will) that they would follow our model from hosting events, building the right partnerships and resources in place for the women to have the tools and support necessary to succeed in life. More importantly, they remember that once they are in a better place, it’s their turn to pay it forward and be there for the next woman. That’s how you grow a true community of sisterhood.
Our goal is to be a non-profit in the next two months, and we would appreciate financial support to help us grow V.I.V.A. so that we can continue to support women and other organizations that rescue women from Human Sex Trafficking or shelter’s that house women and their kids. Prayers are also very welcome as we look for direction in our next phase. Also, if they can follow us on Social Media and share our posts, that would be a great way to feel your support.
Tell us about your current projects:
We just finished a book titled “LEAD WITH V.I.V.A,” which has several women I asked to share their story by contributing a chapter in this book. I am very excited at our reviews on Amazon already, and we don’t even have the physical copies and are still awaiting out official launch. I plan to use this book as an instrument to fulfill my purpose as a Speaker. I also have a Podcast in the works which will be launching in January 2020 titled “Real Conversations with Mia Perez. This project is perfectly aligned with the different facets of who I am. I’ve worked in media in the past, so this is a project that is MY OWN, and with that comes the freedom to walk my path of helping others while having real conversations -about real issues -with real solutions. In my style and personality so they won’t all be serious topics but always to walk away with a REAL message while we have some fun.
Finally, what would be the advice you give to any woman who knows that she needs a change in her life?
My advice would be to:
1- Know that you are worthy of dreaming again and starting over. Being that the first letter of V.I.V.A. stands for “Vision,” you have to dare to dream again. Despite your “failures,” your age, or whatever you feel has held you back. It’s never too late, and while you are still breathing and have life, the time is NOW!
2- Listen to that inner voice that is crying out to you to make that change. You may say, “Mia, but I’m so scared.” It’s ok to be scared. We have all been there. Even if you start with the smallest step, though, start taking one at a time. Over time, you will look back and see your journey was worth it.
3- Find your circle of women that will uplift you and hold you up. When we have people, we can be vulnerable to life changes that come about in a much smoother way. Look for the women around you that have overcome similar hardships, and they are now in a better place. Shadow them, ask them if you could mentor under them. If you can’t find that circle, create it, just like I did. I didn’t even wait until my life was in a better place. I just knew I needed it, other women did as well, so I went with my gut feeling.
4- Be a student of learning. There is no excuse these days because all the information you need is at your fingertips. Listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos of great speakers, read books, and attend conferences that will nurture your healing and growth as well as equip you on your journey.
5- Lastly, but first and above all, I left it last on purpose! HOLD ON TO YOUR FAITH! It was my faith and my belief in God; that is the reason why I am here today, doing what I am doing. You will need a dream, taking actions towards those dreams, a circle of support, and continuously feeding your mind and heart, but any of those at any point may fail you. You may fail yourself. It’s okay, as long as you don’t ever let go of your FAITH, He won’t let go of you!
YOUR 3 WEE 2020 POWER PLAYS
Give us your power word: They vary, but this new year's power word is "ANTICIPATION."
Your 2020 1st step is: Self-Care as a priority is my 1st step for 2020. I want my physical to reflect health, peace, rest and energy so that I can better serve my purpose.
You have to make a first good impression, what is your go-to outfit or charming default trait? I have to have manicured hands and toes and perfume. It doesn't have to be from a nail spa or name brand. Just look put together because we shake people's hands, sign papers, hug, and stand to make conversations. Trust me people remember those things.
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