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Kaliada Padilla

New York | Jewelry Designer | Kaliada

I was born and raised in Dominican Republic and came to the United States when I was almost 17 years old. I hold an MBA from Baruch College with a minor in Human Resource Management. As a Latina, I am proud to say that I have accomplished a lot of things that were a little bit of a challenge for a young Latina girl who was not raised in this country, such as; holding managerial roles at large and International Corporations like Fujifilm USA, Lehman Brothers, and BMW. However, the launch of my own business is one of my greatest accomplishments. After battling breast cancer in 2009, I stepped back from my full-time, corporate job and decided to work part-time to spend more time with my family. To keep me from constantly re-living my health challenges, I saw the perfect opportunity to spend the extra time doing something I have always been passionate about: starting my own jewelry and accessories business. In 2012 I launched an online boutique to offer a curated selection of designer fashion jewelry. Although business was doing well I felt as if I was not telling my story through the product I was offering, didn’t feel like it was part of me or who I am. In 2015 I took my business to the next level and began designing and handcrafting my own jewelry line. What started out as a weekend hobby at my kitchen table led to markets, an e- commerce site, trunk-shows, charity events, store and celebrities collaborations, a private design studio/showroom, wholesale accounts, and product expansion. I considered myself to be a determined, hard working, and entrepreneurial driven woman who is very proud to be a Latina. I regularly instill onto my kids the importance of embracing our cultural heritage, our values, and traditions with a sense of pride. It is an important part of my family legacy. What have been your struggles as a Latina? The first few years in this country were very difficult for me. I came to the United States at a very challenging age, my teenage years. I did not do high-school here, I went straight to college, and did not know anyone; all my friends were in Dominican Republic. It was a very difficult situation for me to cope with at such a difficult age. Fortunately, I came here knowing English. I went to a bilingual school in Dominican Republic where I was exposed on a daily basis to the English language from pre-k all the way through high-school, and that helped me a lot in getting myself acclimated in this country. However, knowing how to write, read, and understand English is perfect, but not so perfect when one speaks with an accent. The older we are the harder it is to fluently hold a conversation in a second language and speak with no accent. This has been one of my struggles as a Latina, especially in the corporate work environment, as I’ve had to prove myself harder so my accent is overlooked.

What does Latina Made mean to you?

Latina Made means to me having pride of my heritage, staying true to who I am, and to work together with other successful like-minded Latinas to break the mold, inspire, and empower the next generation of Latinas.

What made you who you are today?

What made me who I am today is actually a combination of what my parents have taught me, my own life experiences, and the drive I have in me to always learn, grow, evolve; personally, professionally, and spiritually.

What advice would you give to young Latinas in our community?

To believe and stay true to themselves, their values, and to have a purpose in life. To never give up. Life could be difficult, but having a purpose makes life meaningful; good things don't happen overnight and without effort. I would also advise to be extra careful on the kind of thoughts they feed their minds with. The mind is very powerful, and our lives are a reflection of our thoughts and the people we surround ourselves with, so choose carefully.

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