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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Spotlight on: Elizabeth Curet

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HARRISON: Elizabeth, you own not one, but two businesses. Tell us about both. 

CURET: In 2020, I curated my versions of Latin American seasonings. I created what I knew were Puerto Rican staples that I grew up with. Most people are familiar with the international brand called Goya. What I wanted to create was something full of flavor instead of mounds of salt, MSG, and preservatives. I hand-make each mix and bottle them myself. Fire Islander Seasonings was created to elevate the stories, culture, and faces of a lot of the dishes we all love and enjoy. People have become familiar with chimichurri sauce but it’s failed to be known that its origins are from Argentina and Uruguay cultures. I am here to talk about our Latin American culture. I am here to elevate past just culinary trends and recent stories behind these flavors and include travel and experiences altogether. My company will seasonally launch a different seasoning blend from each Latin American country. 

Simultaneously, I found myself in 2021 learning and observing the exponential boom regarding the digital nomad movement. Through a brief online course, I learned how to practically put together a VA business with all the skills and experiences I had acquired. For most of my life, I was a jack of all trades, and at one point that was seen as a negative thing. This was the time to put all of that to good use and elevate the conversation of supporting other businesses by not only completing tasks but also elevating their brands. Companies are currently hiring overseas VAs with very minimal cost compared to well-skilled and dynamic professionals right here in the USA. I decided to elevate my title to Virtual Business Manager. A Virtual Business Manager learns their client’s business, assesses the short and long-term goals of the business, and then elevates it so that the owner and its teams can do what they do best and operate in their zone of genius. The Curet Method tailors business solutions and personalized detail while incorporating expertise over a spectrum of services like branding, marketing, project management, logistics, procurement, administration, social media management, writing, and more. 

HARRISON: Did you always know you wanted to be a business owner? How did you get onto this path?  

CURET: The last thing on my mind was to be a business owner. Throughout my life, I had experiences that prepared me to be an attorney, a French interpreter overseas, and a faith-based pastor. But the pandemic did for me what it did for many, it allowed me to pause, assess my life, and ask myself what I want and what truly would make me happy. I concluded that I have the independence to do what I love to do, how I want to do it, and when I want to do it. I was getting worn down being part of corporate cultures of superficiality, control, games, and politics. I saw people with little to zero integrity and expertise and with a lot of charisma be promoted and granted opportunities. So I decided to do it for myself. I concluded that if I had to work as hard as I was working, I should be doing it for myself. I knew the return on investment in everything I did would come back to me in one form or another and it would not be dependent on someone else.  

I have several top passions in life: dancing, traveling, food, and marketing. Three of which I took and made into businesses. Being unapologetic about sharing my love and experiences for food and travel is something that always came naturally to me. Being proud of being Puerto Rican, my culture, my island, my music, and my language fueled my personality in so many ways. I always thought that people should love these things too. Why would anyone not want to be part of a community and culture that feeds you, loves you, dances with you and laughs with you? Although my love for marketing came late in my life, being able to create stories, messaging, style, community, and an identity through creativity while collectively turning a business into a brand is multifaceted and complex it’s turned out to bring me so much gratification and purpose, not to mention useful in both of my businesses.  

HARRISON: How does your heritage influence you as a business owner?  

CURET: The United States invaded Puerto Rico on July 25, 1898. The invasion was part of a strategy to capture Spanish holdings in the Caribbean. The Spanish Army put up little resistance. The United States annexed Puerto Rico on December 10, 1898. From that date until 1952, it was a felony to display the Puerto Rican flag in public. The only flag permitted to be flown on the island was the flag of the United States. The Gag Law, enacted in 1948, made it a crime to:  

  1. Own or display a Puerto Rican flag 
  1. Sing a patriotic tune 
  1. Speak or write of independence 
  1. Meet with anyone or hold any assembly in favor of Puerto Rican independence 

To put things into perspective, my father was born in 1944 and my mother in 1948. They are both still alive when this was in place! Puerto Ricans are widely proud and loud about our culture and everything that identifies us because of these events in history. My vision for my business is to break away from the fleeting food trends and get back to the classic and authentic food of my culture and country. Not only mine but from all of Latin America. Why? Because the stories, culture, history, and food origins deserve to be told without any adulteration, fusion, or gentrification. My brand is not about being trendy, but about elevating the culture, history, and the faces behind many trendy dishes. Fire Islander is here to bring back honor where honor is due to Latin American cuisine. The best part of it all, my seasoning blends are so versatile and multi-purpose, that they contribute to and complement any global cuisine encouraging the spectrum of customers to play and discover my seasoning flavors in their world.  

My father served in the US Army for over 20 years. One of the top-tier things he and my mother gave my sisters and me was the experience of travel. Living and learning new cultures, and new countries, and meeting different people grew to become sacred and special and a must in my life. Fire Islander Seasonings will have you meet different cultures face-to-face. Meeting people from other countries and cultures forces us to grow expand and evolve. The food that is sacredly attached to the people, history, and culture won’t be watered down, nor will it be propped up as trends.  

As a Virtual Business Manager,  the heart of my management style lies in a commitment to excellence and personalized attention. By understanding the unique needs of each business I serve, I tailor my solutions to provide the most effective support in a spectrum of business services. Puerto Ricans love hard and we support hard. My parents instilled in my sisters and me from a young age independence and hard work. While I am finding and exploring more holistic versions of that today, my clients receive the best of me, my expertise, my loyalty, and my dedication to their brand. Compared to my experience in working for companies where chaos, void, and a lack of strategy existed and my strengths were not leveraged to implement efficiencies and optimization, I take the opportunity to own the same level of intentionality my clients have over their businesses. I make sure to earn and display their trust.  

HARRISON: What’s surprised you most about business ownership? If you don’t love this question, sub it with What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about business ownership so far? 

CURET: The level of resilience and persistence required to work for someone else is just as intentional as working for yourself. I arrived at a point in my life, with all my experiences, that it was time to see each piece of investment see a real return and I knew I could see that come to fruition through a business.  

Yes, it’s difficult, but it’s so worth it and fulfilling. Today, I work as a Marketing Manager for a thriving Real Estate and Investment company. While I am truly obsessed with the contribution I get to have here. I also come home after a full day and have no qualms about getting back online and spending another 4-6 hours working on my business – that’s how much I love Marketing, that’s how much I love strategizing about my next move for my seasoning business. 

My biggest lesson about myself in business ownership is how much my talents, instincts, and dynamics were downplayed and constricted in working for someone else. As humans, we are capable of so many wonderful and good things and I’ve got the opportunity to see these things shine through in running a business. My second business lesson in business ownership is that I cannot do it alone. My hyper-independence was taught to me, by my father and although good in many ways, came from a place of not wanting to be disappointed when others let you down when you need them the most. So my sisters and I always figured things out. Now, I’ve learned to ask and look for help. I am a much happier and more well-rounded woman because I’ve leaned into healthy collaboration and partnerships that are fruitful both ways.  

HARRISON: How can people connect with you and learn more about your businesses? 

CURET: People can connect with my Fire Islander Seasoning on my website: www.fireislanderseasonings.com and Facebook:  Fire Islander and Instagram: @fireislanderseasonings   

If premium business services are what people are after they can stop by my website: www.thecuretmethod.com and email me at theelizabethventure@gmail for a free discovery call to evaluate how we can best partner together in their business, projects, or companies. 

HARRISON: What’s one thing that you’d encourage Hoosiers to do to support Hispanic businesses beyond Hispanic Heritage Month? 

CURET: Take the initiative to learn the stories and the faces that have fed you and continually carry this country on their backs today so that your day-to-day goes more smoothly. From cooks and waitstaff who make your meals in restaurants to your landscape maintenance person, local mechanics, janitorial services, and construction workers. We work so hard, many jobs at one time – as you have read about me – and often without rest. We pay taxes regardless of our migratory statuses and we don’t take away from anyone, but rather we uphold and sustain. We don’t ask for much other than being able to stay safe, work, and earn our keep for ourselves, our families, and our community.   

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