Two years ago, Anabelle Martinez took the leap to start two businesses in the middle of the pandemic. With two businesses under her belt, and with the help of Comcast RISE, she found a better way to serve her community with a tutoring program for kids and healthy juices for everyone in the Chicago area.
Chicago native Anabelle Martinez is a businesswoman who got her start during the pandemic, a teacher, a juicerista, a world traveler, a daughter, a friend, and a cornerstone for her community.
When Anabelle was little, her mom was bilingual and could help her with her homework. But, while she benefited from the support from her mother, she was also aware that many kids with immigrant parents weren’t as lucky. This realization planted the seed of her first business, Maestri Tutoring.
Two Businesses Born Out of the Pandemic
Her journey began at 23 when she started tutoring kids at a local library. This idea grew into something much bigger, and eventually, she opened a storefront in the beautiful neighborhood of Pilsen in Chicago. But then, in 2020, COVID hit, and the storefront had to close. Being one of the city’s finest hustlers, Anabelle turned this into an opportunity to reach more kids in Pilsen and anywhere in the U.S.. Maestri went online, where they could reach kids far and wide who needed tutoring the most.
Then came the juice bar. Juice Vibe Bar was born out of Anabelle’s longing for juices in the style of Mexican mercados. She wanted to focus on mixing simple ingredients that made you feel like you were drinking a tropical paradise. For this venture, Anabelle recruited her mom. Both are now serving some of the city’s best juices, salads, and bowls while celebrating the spirit of Mexican mercados’ juice bars.
So, how does she do it all? Well, Anabelle has some advice:
- “Bring on an amazing team that you can trust and confide in. A team that represents what you created and who love your customers and understand the mission.”
- “Streamline your business so it runs like a machine.”
- And a quote that stuck with her: “Hustle beats talent when talent doesn’t hustle.”
They Say It Feels Lonely at the Top, But Success Doesn’t Happen Without Your Community
When Anabelle started this adventure, she took a workshop for business entrepreneurs and realized that many people were on the same path as her. “Run ideas by people who are on the same path as you are,” said Anabelle. She knew she could run ideas by them, and together they could all figure out things they were unsure about. The power of community is real.
As a teacher, Anabelle also knows that everyone needs a mentor, and if you look for help, you will find that resources and knowledge might be closer than you expect.
Tap Into the Resources and Opportunities Available To You
This is how Anabelle found out about the Comcast RISE grant, which has now granted awards to over 13,000 recipients across the nation. She applied and got it – a true example of if you take action, you’ll have a shot at the same opportunity.
She applied first for a Comcast RISE grant for Maestri tutoring. The grant was the Commercial Production and Media Campaign, so the team from Comcast produced, edited, and aired a TV commercial that ran for three months on local TV. After being forced to close when the pandemic hit, this commercial helped them spread the word and reach many more struggling children during Covid with online lessons. Anabelle and Maestri were there to help them make the most of a strange and challenging time for students.
Anabelle then decided to do the same for her juice bar, so she applied again for the same grant from Comcast RISE, and she got it. So if you live in the Chicago area, keep an eye out for the new Juice Vibe Bar commercial out soon.
Anabelle recommends reading all the instructions and being mindful of the deadlines, and if you have questions, ask them.
“Reach out to Comcast RISE and see if you have a question on something –, they’ll help you,” says Anabelle. “They’ll walk you through it. They want people to apply.”
If you are planning on starting a business, take these tips from Anabelle, who has gone through the throes of having two herself:
- Start as small as possible.
- Take everything step by step. It usually moves fast. A lot can change in 6 months or a year.
- Don’t go into a large amount of debt before you have tested the market. For example, if you sell hand-made soaps, sign up for pop-up events before you open a store.
- Check your local Chamber of Commerce –they have resources and time to help you.
“Communities want more businesses. If you are open, they are willing to help you.”
Just like with Anabelle, Comcast RISE has helped 13,000 POC and women-owned small businesses with monetary grants and marketing and technology resources to elevate their business since its inception in 2020. They have created a map of Comcast RISE recipients so that you can support your local small business. Check it out, and remember to support small businesses this holiday season and beyond!