Women are redefining what it means to work in America more than ever before. A 2014 PayPal study found that 47% of women were motivated by passion to start a business.
We met four bold women whose passion also drove them to build a business while working full time jobs. Natalia Napoleon De Bens, Lauren Fernandez, Gail Hamilton and Melisa Chamorro are the co-founders of Lemon City, a Miami-based tea company.
“We're walking down the street with our rolling bag of tea. And yeah, at that point, you're kind of like, ‘This is nuts. I look crazy,’” Fernandez told Fusion correspondent Alicia Menendez.
Founded and operated by first-generation American women, Lemon City utilizes their Haitian, Nicaguarian, Jamaican, and Cuban backgrounds for inspiration.
“It’s how we all united ourselves—our different cultural backgrounds—here in Miami,” said Hamilton.
Their diverse backgrounds and Miami’s culture are front and center with tea products with names like Calme-Té, El Mango Next Door, and Cafeci- té.
It's not uncommon for young entrepreneurs to work a 9 to 5 job while getting their start-ups off the ground, but the Lemon City co-founders are balancing their new business with full-time careers: Napoleon De Bens and Fernandez as attorneys; Hamilton as a business consultant and Chamorro as an ad agency art director.
“Some of the criticism that we've gotten as small business owners is, ‘Why aren't you guys all-in? You know, if you were all-in, you all should have quit your jobs and done this,’” Napoleon De Bens explained. “We worked very hard to build careers, and to give ourselves a life that our parents weren't able to have, and their parents weren't able to have.”
According to Entrepreneur, 80% of startups are self-funded, and Lemon City is no different. The Lemon City founders invested their own money to pursue this passion project, with no outside backing.
Despite all the challenges, they feel like they’re living the American dream.
“I think the American dream for me means just that you have the ability to do what you want—be happy and succeed and doing what you love,” Chamorro said.
This is part of Fusion's series, Chasing the Dream with Alicia Menendez. For more episodes, click here.