Latina boutique owner sees gap in business diversity, aims to close it

WACO, Texas (KWTX) – A Latina boutique owner is working to close the gaps for underrepresented populations within the Waco business community, including Hispanics and women.

“It’s important to have diversity in our economics,” said Sthefanie Welch, owner of the Black Daisy boutiques.

Welch’s mother immigrated from Honduras to the United States.

“My mom is a cosmetologist, owned her own business for a while, passed that entrepreneurial little bug to me and taught me how to chase the dream in America,” said Welch.

Originally from Los Angeles, she says Waco wasn’t a ‘culture shock’…it was a ‘lack of culture, shock.’

”I’ve always come from places that are melting pots with all kinds of people and walks of life, so it was hard at first, I think when I first moved to Waco I was surprised at how not-diverse it was.” said Welch. “I came in 2016, and I’ve seen a lot of big growth in that area, it’s a lot more diverse than when I moved here, so it was hard at first but I’m still really proud to be in the community.”

It’s a community where the numbers don’t match up for Hispanics.

According to a 2018 study by the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than 32% of Waco is Hispanic, however, only 15% of the city’s businesses are Hispanic-owned.

Officials with the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce estimate the percentage to now be closer to 20%.

While the city’s diversity has grown, Welch feels it’s still not where it needs to be.

“The numbers are really surprising to me, but that makes it even more important to have a seat at the table,” said Welch.

Trying to be a part of the solution, Welch, who owns the Black Daisy Boutique in China Spring, opened up a second Black Daisy location in downtown Waco in the form of vendor market which provides space for 32 women-owned businesses including Latinas.

“My space, I want to open it up to different walks of people, but really, just embracing my own culture and my own race, and having them here to tell their own stories and sell their own goods, was really important to me,” said Welch.

In addition to having permanent Latina vendors in her downtown market, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Welch is routinely inviting-in Hispanic-owned guest vendors to set-up shop for hours at a time to sell their goods.

She calls her downtown location a ‘hidden gem’ that doesn’t have high foot traffic and can be hard to find, so she’s encouraging vendors–and shoppers–to come fill the need to support and promote diverse businesses.

”We still need you, we still need people to come out here and support all these businesses,” said Welch.

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15-Oct. 15.

The Black Daisy will be hosting more events promoting Hispanic vendors during that time.

You can inquire by visiting the vendor market’s Facebook page here.

For a list of some of the Latin-American owned businesses in the Waco area, go here.

Copyright 2021 KWTX. All rights reserved.

Katheleen Knopf

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