Editor’s note: Veronica Alvidrez is a member of the education team at Startland, the parent organization of Startland News. This story, detailing Alvidrez’s business, paraMi, was produced independently by Startland News’ independent nonprofit newsroom.
One year ago in the thick of the pandemic, Veronica Alvidrez felt like she was losing her voice. Not the literal one — but the voice that helped her advocate for herself, she said.
She didn’t feel strong enough to stand up to her two boys as a single mother or make time for herself to do things she enjoyed.
The societal and cultural pressures placed on women, mothers, and caretakers to put others first before themselves felt suffocating, Alvidrez said. So she gathered her close friends and pitched an idea: paraMi, a women-owned lifestyle brand that would try to redefine gender roles and the responsibilities of Latinx women in their households.
“The pandemic kind of brought up this idea that there’s so much demanded of us, but there’s very little expected of us,” Alvidrez said. “We felt it at work, but we suddenly felt it at home too.”
paraMi is organizing a celebration of its first year 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1 at the Toolbox Center KC, 1303 Central Ave, Kansas City, KS 66102.
Networking, appetizers, drinks, music, a mini fashion show, and a special announcement are planned.
Before starting paraMi (“para mi” is “for me” in Spanish), Alvidrez spent more than a decade working in Kansas City, Kansas, public schools with migrant education programs. It was only a matter of time before she’d put her degree in entrepreneurship from University of Missouri-Kansas City to use for her own venture.
Over the past year, Alvidrez and the three other women behind paraMi (Nayelly Serrano-Dantzler, Erika Reza, and Silvia Marin) have created five products — shirts, mugs, and other merchandise — with slogans that reframe gender roles, especially traditional thinking in the Latinx community.
A hat reads, “No soy tu chacha,” or in English, “I’m not your maid.”
The items have empowered both men and women to speak up and take time for themselves, Alvidrez said, but the creative phrases have also become talking points during weekly and bi-monthly discussions live streamed over Instagram to the group’s 600-plus followers. They talk about stigmas and stereotypes, as well as how to turn a hobby into a profitable business.
Click here to shop paraMi‘s products.
“We are combating generational macho-ism culture within the Latinx community, but it exists everywhere,” Alvidrez said. “We’re all siloed into these roles of motherhood, womanhood, and caregiving, and we feel stuck. Our opportunity cost is our own desires.”
Alvidrez has heard success stories from women across Kansas City who have felt motivated through paraMi to pursue their passions, she said, referencing one woman who now posts her skincare routine daily and another who finally launched a podcast with a friend.
“I envision that paraMi becomes a community of Latinx innovators and thinkers and contributors who support one another,” she said.
Alvidrez’s own vision is unfolding as her voice returns, she said.
She’s planning to launch an in-person event in 2022, while in the meantime popping up at local festivals like Silver City Days and First Fridays in the Crossroads. Her team also hopes to collaborate with Kansas City artists on a special line of products. They’re launching a kids collection and have planned 12 more months of goods.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.