Today I'm thrilled to be walking in the super sparkly stilettos (scroll down a little and you'll know what I'm talking about!) of LaLa Castro, co-founder of #LatinaGeeks. LaLa is actually my muse behind Stilettogal - we were sitting at Huckleberry in Santa Monica together discussing social media, #LatinaGeeks, and stilettos when the name Stilettogal was born over coffee. Immediately we registered the name on GoDaddy and everything was history!
And yes, that is a hashtag spotted at the beginning of the company name but why is it there again? I chatted with LaLa to discuss more about #LatinaGeeks and what the website does to support women online and why you should always authentic when it comes to social media.
Hillary Gadsby: How did you get inspired to start up #LatinaGeeks?
LaLa Castro: My first company was in e-commerce back in 2003, where I learned how to run an online business, online community building and online marketing - the hard way. As an early e-commerce adopter, everything was still new and there weren’t many resources or mentors within reach. We were all learning the internet and we still are. Everything I learned back then was from trial and errors. And trust me, I made a lot of mistakes. I was fortunate enough to learn from those mistakes and I was able to share my experiences with others that were jumping in the digital space. As I kept myself on top of online trends by attending workshops and conferences, it was hard not to notice that back then there was only a small percentage of women that showed an interest in technology - and the majority of the time, I was the only Latina present.
I remember moments when two Latina’s in tech would meet at networking events, there was huge excitement in our encounters and we would connect instantly looking forward to helping each other in our endeavors. Why there weren't more Latinas learning about the web and technology? In 2010, I registered the domain LatinaGeeks.com that came from a conversation with a friend when we were discussing that one day there should be a group where Latinas in technology could connect and learn from each other. And that day finally came when I met #LatinaGeeks Co-Founder, Tanya Salcido via Twitter. Tanya and I had an opportunity to work together and we connected not only as entrepreneurs, but also as Latinas who knew that something needed to change in our community. We felt there was a need for more resources for Latinas who are interested in digital or technology and we know there are more out there that are hungry for more tech knowledge as we are. It was our passion for technology and everything digital that #LatinaGeeks was born and we want to share the passion with other Latinas. Tanya and I hope that together we will inspire more women to discover the next innovative idea that could possibly change, not only our community, but also the future of young girls education for technology.
HG: What does the #LatinaGeeks website offer women to apply to their daily lives and businesses?
LC: #LatinaGeeks supports women online by keeping them informed with the latest trends in social media and technology. We live and breathe digital media -- that’s our main focus. We enjoy the opportunity to provide them with knowledge that will assist them with continued success in their careers. Information ranges from what’s new on Facebook Pages and how they can benefit from the network to which technical equipment is best to use for a successful Google+ Hangout. There’s always something new and it’s our job to let them know how they can benefit from the web and which technology they can use to apply to their daily lives and of course, business.
HG: How can you get involved with the site?
LC: We encourage anyone to get involved in the #LatinaGeeks Movement! This isn't about just women embracing their inner geek, it’s about empowering, inspiring & educating ourselves with the latest in technology. We want to hear all about your tech start-up How can your mobile app, gadget or business assist or help another woman achieve greatness in their everyday personal life or business? Perhaps your struggles or success can help another woman entrepreneur, we want to hear your story. We would love for anyone to become involved as a participant, supporter, sponsor or all of the above. Let’s inspire each other!
HG: Tell me about a business lesson you learned a lot from.
LC: If business has taught me anything it was to never start something or anything in life without passion. When you’re trying to sell an idea, it’s not the fancy presentations that convince people to work with you, it’s the fire in your eyes that makes them feel your passion and see what you’re trying to achieve. It’s that same passion inside you that makes you work hard and get through hurdles when times are difficult. That same passion, will drive you to success. Without it, you will have a hard time trying to achieve your dream. Because of that lesson, if I don’t feel it and have fun doing it, then I won’t start it.
HG: What has been your biggest shoe splurge?
LC: Roberto Cavalli Animal Print Leather Sandals, they were mega sexy, had to do it!
HG: Fill in the blank: my favorite shoes are a pair of _____ because ________.
LC: Charles David leather pumps because they're super comfortable when I'm literally running from a meeting to a networking event.
HG: What are 2 pieces of advice you would give to women looking to establish a strong social media presence for either themselves or their business (or both!)?
LC: 1) Always be authentic. People are craving transparency+authenticity and community. Give it to them.
2) Listen to your audience and engage with them. Listening means to monitor, observe, and respond based on what you learn.
3) Don’t try to dominate every single social network. Find where your audience is and focus there. If they’re on Facebook or LinkedIn go there. Listen to your audience, not the hype.
Bonus tip! Once you get the basics down, a successful social media presence is after you create a complete social media strategy that will involve more than setting up a Facebook page or twitter account. Creating a social media strategy early on before you start tweeting, updating Facebook status will ensure that you can launch, optimize, and measure your campaigns success without getting overwhelmed. You have to set goals before you jump in. Social media shouldn't be overwhelming, it should be fun.