by Daniela Torrico

Ileana V. says she has an “entrepreneurial soul”, as she always enjoyed working with customers and providing items that made them happy. A trained professional in management and marketing in her home country, Ileana emigrated to the US to fleeing violence in El Salvador and worked several jobs here until she became a mom. Last year, family difficulties forced Ileana to search for a way to still care for her small daughter while earning a living.

Ileana had been creating jewelry for some time when she heard about Identity’s first Entrepreneur Expo in June of 2023. Though she had experience presenting business ideas, she was amazed at the confidence of the entrepreneurs presenting their ideas at the Expo and how well prepared they were.

Ileana joined the third cohort of Identity’s intensive year-long Entrepreneurship Program that year. Always eager to learn more, she requested assistance from her Workforce Development Specialist to apply to the USG Equity Incubator program and completed it with flying colors.

This year Ileana proudly registered her LLC: Mariana by Ileana, named in honor of her daughter. And daring again to dream big, she asked Identity to help coach her to apply and interview for the Women’s Business Center’s Shop Local incubator. From a large pool of applicants, Ileana was one of only three women entrepreneurs accepted this year and she will proudly showcase her creations and manage a ‘small shop’ for 6 months through the incubator.

“Identity’s program has helped me tremendously, both on a personal and professional level” Ileana says. “With Identity’s support I was able to learn new concepts to take my business idea to the next level. I appreciate every one-on-one and orientation, the assistance with classes, interviewing skills and constant support. I will be forever grateful.”