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Meet Karla Pensamiento of LatinX Strong Nation in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karla Pensamiento.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Karla. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Being raise in Utah, I also felt like there was something missing in my spirit. I was born and lived in San Pedro California until I was about ten years old. The violence of gangs and drugs were coming into our home so that pushed the decision no my parents to move to a small town called Logan, Utah. In the early 2000’s, Utah didn’t have much diversity as it does now. Still was not enough for what my heart was thirsty for. The vacations we would make to California always brought nostalgia of the few years I got to experience before the move. The loud Latin music, family parties every weekend, garage sales Saturday mornings, the smell and sound of the Elotero cart passing by the neighborhood. I might have only been 10 yrs old before we left that all behind; but it surely brought a foundation to all my senses as I got older.

Eventually, the Utah life grew onto me and I embraced most of what it had to offer. The Latin culture was still something that was missing in my heart and felt like I couldn’t be my full self. This feeling always pushed me to dream of the day that I was moving back to California. Every time I thought the chance to move was near, things would come up. In 2009 My father was deported. Most definitely, that was the game-changer for a lot of things in my life. I was 17 years old and I had to step up as a legal guardian for my sister and help my mother get to a healthy mindset. My whole life dreams were set on hold and not prioritized due to my family. Five years after that my brother was deported as well. I was looking at such hard moments in my life that it was just work and no benefit besides paying bills. It was a point of working to just survive.

At this point, my goals in life were mainly to push my sister to her highest potential. Finally in 2018, she went off to college and my life has changed completely. Within those years that my father was back in Guatemala; my youngest sister would take supplies to kids in Guatemala. I then picked up that desire as well and we began an organization to supply people with resources of any kind. We called this ‘Stand for Strong Nations.’ We thought we were out of our minds shooting for these types of projects so it was always on and off.

In Oct 2018, I had enough of the depression and lack of diversity in Utah that I just picked up and moved to California. Within the first month, I felt as I had been missing this all along. IT felt as if I had never left and I connected with everyone and everywhere. The culture, the unity, the motivation of the LA culture sparked something that I had never felt before. In March 2019, I came home from work and confronted Salvador and Melanie (latinX Nation’s team) and told them; “it’s time, we are starting a podcast.” That same day we did some trial recording and just ran with it. I wasn’t sure what this was going to bring but I was tired of being bitter for all that happened in my life. I decided to turn my voice into an open door for others. It began all as something fun to vent and just bond around. Little did I know that it was going to expand into something that connected with our organization ‘Strong Nation.’

Throughout the months, we kept on meeting more and more people with similar visions, passions, and desires. We began to volunteer at different events in LA and networking that way for people we could interview on the podcast. This was becoming something beyond our vision could see. September came along and we had our next project planned out for Guatemala. The podcast helped us network with people to raise funds for the supplies of community leaders in Guatemala. This is when we finally made the connection of ‘Strong Nation’ and ‘LatinX Nation.’ Till this moment, we have noticed that our purpose is to provide a platform for all people. Whether it is through our podcast or our website which is being developed at the moment.

This is briefly the story of what has made me and brought me to where I am now. I am a Strong Latina that strives daily to bring purpose to anyone. Whether it’s it coffee, business, culture, or just life in general. While I lived in Utah, I always found myself hard to fit in and felt as if I had to go college or be wealthy to make it into a happy place. Moving out here and having the team I have now has shown me that there is much more to just college and money. There is so many skills that plug into our team. We have baristas, teachers, sound engineers, counselors, filmmakers, and so much more. This has made my story so much more colorful and valuable. This journey has broken the borders that society tried to force on me. Now I am and will always be an activist for those that are stuck behind those borders physically and emotionally.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has been a smooth and bumpy road all the way through. It feels as if you are going through a canyon and it’s all very beautiful but yet it’s very scary to drive and sometimes maybe not the safes. The spots that it has been a struggle and as well not the safest has been financially. I grew up within a family that didn’t have a lot of money. So I was always taught to conserve the little I would earn. The little that I had was always being used just to survive.

When I moved out here to California, I had decided that it was enough of those excuses. I chose to say, “money comes and goes. I am not earning anything by it collecting dust in the bank.” I made the move to invest in myself and my passion. This was a struggle for me because after my father was deported, I became my sister’s legal guardian and I would invest all my finances on her. Investing money on myself was not something that I was used to doing. Whether that be in stock, transportation, education, programs, and supplies for the podcast. Finding and discovering how much this was something I needed was a life transformation thing. I was able to release any bondage that my mind was using against me. I was able to invest in my mental health, physical health and so much more.

Another struggle was obviously not having any type of experience besides just a drive to create. There is so many creators in LA and It was difficult to understand that I’m a unique kind of creator as well and that is ok. Overall these two struggles were the best things that could of ever happened to me because they brought up my insecurities and build them into securities.

Please tell us about LatinX Strong Nation.
We are an organization that provides a platform for the people. The name of the organization is called “Latinx Strong Nation Organization.” This platform not only is being provided to those that want their voices to be heard but we go beyond that. At LatinX, we volunteer at events in the LA and Long Beach area. Within these events, we network and build relationships to bring deeper meanings and roots. We provide an opportunity to be interviewed and their brand/voice to be heard and promoted. Currently, we are working on a website that will give us the opportunity to promote merchandise from underpaid artists from other countries. Currently, we are working with a coffee company in Guatemala that we are selling their coffee here in the states and giving them really what it’s worth. Another example is a dear friend of our who is an indigenous women provides us with indigenous patterns and material and we sell it with fair trade and all the processed go back to her. With these funds she is able to send her oldest daughter to college.

There are many potations of this organization because beyond the coffee, the merchandise, and the podcast; we hold once a year a fundraiser to raise fund for a project help in another country to supply community leaders or groups with resources. We have been on our 5th annual trip to Guatemala and provided already to teachers, students, farmers, mothers, and indigenous communities. We are investing in property in Guatemala to make it a community resource center that people are able to go register and receive resources that will benefit their future. I would say that we are mostly known for our projects and our podcast. Those have been the two types of networking that have gone a long way for this organization. It has been a journey of learning new things and how things are done in the nonprofit world. Overall it has been a sense of growth within the communities we are a part of. We have gone as far as to the Philippines, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

One of the main things that I am most proud of within this company is our team growth. This all started due to an adversity that was within my family. My sister and I could have chosen to just live in a bitter mentality. We decided to go outside the box and dream big. Manifesting that we are creating something new. From there, we connected with a dear friend of ours who as well has invested time and money into this vision of ours. Brings qualities of teaching English in Guatemala, to experiencing an encounter with her birth mom as an adoptee in Guatemala. Months later, we were as well able to connected with a dear friend who is a sound engineer and has helped since day one creating the podcast which has been one of our main source of marketing. Within that same time we connected with our cousin and she has a passion for kids and teaching. Which brought a lot to the table when it came to volunteering and creating projects that we would host in Guatemala with elementary kids. Overall, I could say when you have a great team behind you, beside you, and in front of you; anything is possible. Creating a vision together and adding our own taste to the organization has been such a success.

Something that sets us apart from others is that we are connecting a ton of qualities and making something big out of it. Not only are we representing LatinX Strong Nation, but we are activist for those that have fed into us by letting us interviewing. There are so many cultures, experiences, adversities, struggles, and success to every human being in this world and we believe that we can bring it to light and learn from it. Every LatinX team member has a different background and we are able to offer that to every human being that comes to our interviews, events, and projects. As much as I am proud of this team, I can also say the team is what sets us apart from others. We pursue encouragement within us and other organizations and keep growing.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
We are getting registered as a nonprofit and currently setting up our website. Those would be some of the short team goals and things we are seeing currently. Long term (5-10 years) there is a lot of shifts and changes coming to the organization. First off, we are buying property in Guatemala. This will make our projects easier to manage and organize when we travel out for them. Second of all we are creating a program to provide internships to those who would like to grow within teaching English, the coffee industry, or starting a business. This is something that will be provided in Guatemala and then within our website. Reaching this level of branding will be reached by roasting our own coffee and making our own brand so that we are able to provide back to these communities. As a women roaster not only am I excited to be an activist and empowerment to the women in the coffee industry, it will as well help me grow to develop a program in producing, roasting and brewing coffee.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jocelyn Pensamiento (co-founder), Salvador Cervantes (cohost), Melanie Andino (photographer), Kayela Sorenson (social media manager), Daniel Olivares (cafe owner/interviewee), Evelyn (chica bean Roaster/beneficiary from projects)

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