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Meet Angel Guerra-Chagolla of The Pro FIRM, Karma & Blessings

Today we’d like to introduce you to Angel Guerra-Chagolla.

Angel, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As a young Latina growing up in Bloomington, CA, it was not common to see Latina(o) Business Professionals speaking at schools or on television. Many times we heard ‘You will be a product of your environment”. I am the daughter of a single mother who was significantly ill while I was growing up. She always supported my endeavors for self-growth and participation in the community. Although I have always advocated for children in my community by providing new shoes and school supplies each year, over a dozen years ago I began to increase the amount of giving by recruiting family and friends to donate. As I created a successful career in the Insurance & Risk industry, the number of children receiving shoes, toys, clothing and school supplies began to triple. I created an annual giving program I call “Operation Christmas Angels” by reaching out to friends and businesses in my industry for donations. I then go into local schools to deliver directly to children who can use some holiday cheer.

I’m known for being  a very active advocate not only for children, but for women as well. Throughout my career, I recognized the need for equality in top management and specific positions in different industries. While not all concerns could be addressed, I began to mentor women within my own industry and in 2018 decided to create two separate companies. The Professional Females in Risk Management is an empowerment company which hosts educational events for women in the Risk and Claims industry. The events allow for a safe place to create valuable connections, obtain information on topics such as Financial Empowerment, Career Development and Insuring Retirement (just to name a few) and enjoy a meal with like-minded and good-hearted women. Over the last 18 months, this small idea has organically grown into an organization of sisterhood and support. Hosting nine events including a Gala this last February, I work hard at creating experiences that benefit sponsors, speakers and attendees, allowing each to walk away with an Empowerment bracelet charm and confidence to actively implement key ideas learned. While this is a for profit company, it is also a philanthropic business. I have had the opportunity to sponsor women’s certificate courses, given away a health retreat cruise to a single mother, provide books to young women as well as donate thousands to Karma & Blessings for children’s clothing. Currently, I am working on mirroring this wonderful business for all women outside of Risk through Beauty & Beast in Business. The business and events promote balance and growth. This secondary portion of my business will allow all women to experience the uplifting and significant positivity that The Pro FIRM community has cultivated.

The second company founded, is a 501(c)3 certified Nonprofit named Karma & Blessings Inc. The mission of this business is to Empower the Next Generation by providing them educational events and necessities which allow them to gain self-confidence and motivation. Although we do give to children of all ages, we focus on the teen population within the Inland Empire and specifically the Colton Joint Unified School District. This population is many times forgotten or at least not priority for many nonprofits and community organizations. Most people love to buy the pretty doll or toy truck that they drop in a box during the holidays, so teens rarely get a gift. In December 2019, I was so excited to have raised enough funds and items to provide food baskets, new shoes, jackets, games, sport equipment and other items to nearly 300 teens in the Bloomington area by joining the Bloomington High School Parent Center for student Winter Wishes in combination with a Friendsgiving event K&B hosted at BHS. In October, I founded a clothing closet at BHS which provides new and gently used clothing, shoes and supplies as well as hygiene items. The goal is to grow this closet so that it is filled all year long. It is an amazing thing to see young adults put on a new outfit and feel empowered. Self-confidence can make a difference between trying or hiding.

In addition to school clothes, I feel it is important to provide career outfits that teens can wear for job interviews, prom and graduation. Some children have never worn a new suit or tied a tie. In conjunction with the BHS Head to Toe Clothing Boutique, the nonprofit website has a tools page which includes YouTube videos, attachments and links to other services. The 501c3 certification was obtained only six months ago, so although we are still extremely new, I am happy to announce that with the donations of community members, K&B has given to hundreds of children. Both The Pro FIRM and Karma & Blessings are advocacy companies. My mission is to help women and children through education and self-empowerment. Lives can be positively affected by small acts of kindness. Providing tools to people so that they can be accomplished and successful is invaluable and I love being a part of that.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
For years I have dreamed of being a business owner. I knew it would not be easy, so I put it off thinking “it is just not possible” until I finally understood that I would never feel complete until I stepped into Entrepreneurship. It has been a journey, as I continue to hold a full-time career as a Sr Risk Manager for an International Baking Company while creating both The Pro FIRM and Karma & Blessings. As I only had enough funds to purchase licensing and domains, it has taken many hours to learn how to create a website (I am not a tech guru by any means), learn to use social media and run every aspect of these companies. I will be the first to say I have had many failures, but they do not deter me. They are what I like to call “Learning Opportunities”. Although I love people and making new friends, being my own marketer has been extremely difficult. You know, it is uncomfortable to hear yourself talk about how great the event will be or how a company would benefit from sponsoring. It can lead to self-doubt by thinking “do I sound pushy? does it sound like bragging?”

I have decided to promote the companies by staying true to the mission of helping others and making sure that each event is beneficial to each participant, whether it is a sponsor, speaker or attendee. Currently, I am the marketer, web designer, social media consultant, content creator and bookkeeper. Each position has its own struggles and that means I must read a book, watch a YouTube video or reach out to others to ask for assistance. Since I work full time and have 14 years old at home, I work approximately 20-30 hours in the late evening or weekends to build the companies. I always make sure that I make time for my daughter (and my two adult children).

We’d love to hear more about your business.
As I create this business, I try to focus on how to build a unique brand for each. That can be difficult since there are a vast number of competitive companies in each of the industries. Female Empowerment has boomed in the last few years, so The Pro FIRM logo was created with inspiration from Rosie the Riveter. When I thought about branding, it was the idea that Rosie represented women’s entry into the workforce and my logo is an updated version representing Businesswomen’s entry into the C suite and Board of Director positions. I really acknowledged that women can easily be pinned into one of two categories- The Pretty Face or The Beast, so my tagline “Beauty & Beast in Business” is a recognition that each businesswoman is successful when they balance their inner beauty and inner strength. The focus is creating a safe community for women to grow connections and create a sisterhood. I am proud of knowing that the community I am building trusts that they will not only enjoy the events but that we will discuss topics from Financial Empowerment to Female Health and speakers will provide active steps that can improve their careers or their lives. At each of my events, I give an empowerment bracelet charm to all speakers, sponsors and attendees. It was important that the ladies could take something tangible. Something that they could look at and realize that they have a group of sisters in business who are dealing with similar life and career obstacles, but also are connections that are willing to mentor and support.

Creating a nonprofit that is unique, was also a hurdle. I knew I wanted to help teens, but not by simply giving things and ending the connection. That is why hosting educational and motivational events is important. Our slogan is “Give Good Karma & Get Great Blessings”. My pride comes from having the opportunity to speak to the kids and provide new items. I focus on topics not regularly taught in High School, such as Stress Management, Learning from Failures, How to handle finances and avoid credit card debt. Having kids see me on campus and say “I wore that new dress to the interview and I got the job!” or “I never thought about business, but it is inspiring to see someone who looks like me and graduated from my school make it. Thanks for coming back.” These moments are emotional for me. I’ve had teachers tell me that kids who have gotten a new pair of shoes have written “I am grateful for the new clothing closet” in their school journals. I am proud of the community members and companies that donate to the cause, as they are making a difference for these children.

What were you like growing up?
I was always a happy kid who loved to make new friends. A book worm who spent many summers working with her grandmother (from whom I learned my work ethic) and someone who loved to question others. How can we make this better? In Junior High I led a group of students who rallied the staff to change the school mascot and colors, in High School I became involved in everything I could from sports to mock trials, which allowed me to make friends in every group. My sophomore year, I earned an award that allowed me to go to the Capital with a group of other students across the nation, but since I grew up with minimal means, my family could not afford to send me. I typed up a letter of request and outlined the award and opportunity, my grandmother and mom drove me to every local business as I asked for donations to fund my trip. I am happy to say that community members did donate and my aunt purchased a few suits from The Salvation Army so that I could spend a week at the awards camp. I don’t think I have changed much. I am a self-described “Big Toddler who loves to make new friends, share meals and laugh a lot”.

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