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Meet Karina Martinez of Avana Creative in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karina Martinez.

Karina, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
To understand where I am today, it’s important to understand where I come from. When I was seven months old I was adopted from Asuncion, Paraguay and brought to Southern California where I was raised with my younger sister (adopted but from Russia) by Cuban-Immigrant parents.

Entrepreneurship has always played an integral role in our family. Like many immigrants, they came to the United States without the language and little transferrable education which made finding quality jobs extremely difficult. That left us only one viable solution/option: entrepreneurship. My great-grandparents sold clothes door to door, my grandparents owned and operated a small apparel company out of their garage and my dad ran a jewelry shop from local swap meets.

Fast forward 24 years and I found myself at an unfulfilling, entry-level agency job feeling like a clog in the machine for products and brands I couldn’t stand behind. Fear-stricken and anxiety-ridden, I left what I knew was a dream job (for some) and took the creative leap to start my own venture, Avana Creative.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There’s nothing easy about starting a business. Many will tell you that but it’s not until you’re deep into the 14 hour days and a looming to do list that you truly understand.

The toughest challenge I face is not knowing what I don’t know. Everyday I find myself with more questions than answers. As entrepreneurs we are responsible for every aspect of the business and it can often be overwhelming.

Since starting my business I’ve been fortunate enough to have met an incredible group of women entrepreneurs who have paved the way for me to be where I am today. This process has taught me the importance of community and how binding together as business owners, activists and friends can make all the difference.

Please tell us about Avana Creative.
Avana Creative is a purpose-driven creative agency that specializes in PR & Branding. After having worked for some of the largest household beauty and lifestyle names I saw a huge need for a new type of creative agency, one that catered to micro and local businesses. I remember being at my desk and thinking that if a small businesses had the accessibility to our resources that it would not only change their business but change their life. Avana Creative works to re-write the narrative for what digital agencies can and should be. We pride ourselves in creating services that are both approachable and affordable for the small business that really NEED it.

Purpose being our number one focus we also work to empower minority business owners by creating micro grants and entrepreneurial/mentorship programs for Latinx-owned businesses. Having been born in a developing country and later having the privilege to start a new life here in the United States has often left me wondering, “Why me?” The older I got the more I felt called to pay it forward for those who weren’t and will never be as fortunate to have the same privileges and opportunities I had/have. Avana Creative is my way of continuously paying it forward by being able to empower local business owners from similar backgrounds. 
I have always believed that small business is the epicenter of communities and by helping build our local small business owners and their brands is how we truly begin to see real change.

The name Avana Creative is homage to my parents who were born in Havana, Cuba.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I don’t think I would change much. I truly believe that every hurdle I’ve encountered during this process has helped define and redefine who I am and what my business stands for.

I used to always wish that I had gotten better grades or had taken more internships in college but then I wonder where that would have put me. Would I have landed the jobs that to where I am? Would it have let me to meet the people who have changed the trajectory of my life? Despite some of the struggles and ‘regret’ I think it has all led me to this point and I couldn’t be happier.

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