Hispanic Women in Business

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana (HCCL) is built upon a commitment to fostering connectivity, business, and opportunity within Louisiana’s Hispanic community, which has long contributed to the diverse and lively melting pot culture in our state.

In this year’s directory, we recognize three HCCL members who have achieved success and distinction through their entrepreneurial endeavors –– not only as entrepreneurs, but as women in the world of business. These women are jewelry designer Cristy Cali, founder of Synergy Design Group Luz Lobos, and the internationally-renowned metalware designer Beatriz Ball.

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Each woman shares details of her own journey, emphasizing how heritage, community, and organizations like the Chamber have helped them along the way. While the path to success isn’t always easy, these inspiring women prove that dedication and perseverance can lead anyone to success, no matter who they are or where they come from.


Photo by Jose Garcia

Cristy Cali Jewelry

Cristy Cali makes no secret of her New Orleans influence when designing her jewelry. Fleur de Lis, pelicans, voodoo dolls, and magnolias –– they are all tastefully cast in sparkling sterling and infused with a certain class and spirit distinct to Cali’s style. Since she started her business in 2012, Cali has grown a worldwide customer base, which notably includes both Senator Mary Landrieu and members of Aerosmith. Today, her line can be found in dozens of stores across Louisiana and beyond –– including one of New Orleans’ most iconic jewelry institutions, Adler’s.

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Cali has the entrepreneurial spirit running through her veins. As a young child, she watched as her parents achieved success after immigrating from Guatemala to New Orleans in the 1980s. In only a few years, what started as a collection of jewelry and handcrafted Guatemalan goods on a table in the French Market turned into two brick-and-mortar stores called Sterling Silvia, which are still in business today.

It was always understood that Cali would someday take over the family business –– which, for a long time, was perfectly fine with her.

“I’d travel with my parents to visit manufacturers and hang out with the makers and learn how things were made,” she said.
After Hurricane Katrina, Cali, who was fifteen at the time, took on a more involved role at the Sterling Silvia stores, working there most weekends in high school and college. She discovered that she had a natural talent at designing and making jewelry, and she knew that such passion could lead her to a successful future in the industry.

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After completing an internship in Thailand, Cali came home with her first jewelry line and quickly sold her products through her parents’ store. In the coming years, her enthusiasm for business development grew, particularly when it came to implementing new and evolving trends like social media marketing. She simultaneously worked on earning her business degree and developing her designs –– and she soon realized that the vision she had for her business no longer fit under the umbrella of Sterling Silvia.

Taking a risk on herself and her vision, Cali decided to leave her family’s business and to pave her own way forward.
“My family experienced a classic clash of generations,” Cali said. “In a Latinx family, and as an only child, me leaving the family business did not go over well. It was one of the most difficult times in my life.”

However, Cali said she doesn’t regret her decision, as it eventually allowed her the space necessary to develop and thrive as an individual entrepreneur.

“I walked away from the only thing I knew for my whole life, but I did it because I needed to be able to grow without answering to anyone, to learn from my mistakes, and to be excited and curious about seeking new solutions,” she said.

Today, Cali’s parents understand why she made the decision to leave, and they celebrate her successes with her. In the end, she said, all of this has been part of the process of figuring out who she is and who she wants to be.

“I think entrepreneurship is very similar to life,” she said. “Businesses require human spirit to energize the entity, and to have that spirit, you have to know who you are and what you want to represent. At the end of the day, I am a New Orleans designer raised in a Latin family, and I care a lot about freedom –– freedom of expression and in finding ways to accept and love yourself for who you are.”



Photo provided by Beatriz Ball

Beatriz Ball Collection

Beatriz Ball was recently sitting with a group of old friends from her days at Sacred Heart High School in Mexico City. She looked around the table, mentally noting their successes: all of them business owners, one with the best art gallery in Latin America, another the owner of ten stores, and another rising as a prominent figure in politics. Ball herself is no exception: her line of luxury metalware is sold in hundreds of stores internationally and has been featured in countless national publications (including Oprah’s Favorite Things List of 2017).

And Ball thought to herself: “None of us went to college!”

The great-granddaughter of former Cuban President Mario Garcia Meocal, Ball was twelve when her family was forced to flee the country under Fidel Castro’s regime. When they arrived in Mexico City, her father had only 16 dollars in his pocket.
Over the next several years, the family established themselves in Mexico City, where the radically-increasing prices for silver were hurting local markets. At that time, a friend of Ball’s father had discovered a metal alloy that served as a suitable substitute for silver. Made up of 97 percent aluminum and 11 additional elements, the alloy could be cut like silver, possessed a shine like silver, and could be put into an oven.

“I always say I was there when the alternative metal industry was established,” said Ball, who would often assist and visit with the artisans training to use the new material.

When she eventually moved to New Orleans with her husband, she brought suitcases of products from Mexico City to share with friends who were impressed with the alloy’s beauty and affordability. One day, she decided to try selling them at a home show.

“By 9 a.m., it was all gone.”

After a few years of selling the artisan products at shows and markets, Ball and her sister decided to take the next step. They built a factory, and following the resounding success of that location, built another in 2013, employing hundreds of artisans in Mexico.

Part of the success of the Beatriz Ball Collection stems from Ball’s personal commitment to excellence, a standard that she has sometimes found challenging to impose on others –– though always, in the end, rewarding.

“I come from a family of very strong women,” she said. “Our women were all very powerful, and they surely passed it on to me.”

In working with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Ball said she has found incredible support from members within the Latinx community, particularly from those seeking to give back to their community by purchasing goods and products made in Mexico.

“We are always very loyal to our own,” said Ball. “We are good at what we do, and so many of our employees have been with us the whole time. For over 20 years, they have shared the journey, and we’ve all grown up together.”


Photo by Jose Garcia

Synergy Design Group

In a world where advertising and marketing strategies are radically changing –– and where people tend to prefer interaction through screens than face to face –– “Exhibitionist Extraordinaire” Luz Lobos is pushing businesses to adapt and own their brands in new ways.

“Fortune favors the bold,” Lobos said. “It’s important to stand out, but it’s also important to be happy doing it. You have to be proud of your brand and proud to share it with people.”

Lobos founded her business, Synergy Design Group, after working as an account executive at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital for three years, where she learned about trade shows for the first time.

“They never talk about trade shows when you’re learning about marketing,” she said. “You learn interiors, graphics and landscape. A lot of money is spent in advertising and creating beautiful logos, but when it comes to face-to-face selling, there is no cohesive method of implementation.”

When she left the hospital to start Synergy in 2000, her goal was to fill that gap, and Our Lady of the Lake became her first customer. Almost 20 years later, the company has grown to serve businesses from right down the street in New Orleans to as far as Spain, England and France. With her exhibit design business, Lobos helps companies elevate their brands by building an inviting, informative environment that stimulates in-person sales and partnerships.

Lobos, who was born and raised in El Salvador, said that her Hispanic background has been a great asset as a business owner in New Orleans, as it allows her a unique perspective that she can contribute to the market and her clients.

“I embrace my culture proudly,” she said. “It has only contributed to my personal strength and ambition and has benefitted our company as we’ve grown into international markets.”

Lobos has also created connections with other Hispanic business owners in the New Orleans community through organizations like the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which she said has helped her both learn from and teach other business leaders.

“It’s been so rewarding to be able to collaborate and assist other members of the Chamber,” she said. “It’s really amazing to see how it has grown over the years, and all that it’s been able to accomplish and to help the community.”

As a business owner so uniquely poised to help other new or aspiring business owners, Lobos said that she’s found incredible rewards in using her experience and journey to help others. Although she spent several years on an entirely different career path, she never overlooked any opportunity that presented itself to her –– and that open-minded outlook led her to successfully innovating the marketing industry.

“I share my story and my experiences, and I tell people that it is okay when things don’t work out. You’ve just got to shift. The key is: Don’t look back. Taking a step back is not an option. Figure out how to move around whatever is in the way, left, right –– do whatever it takes to move forward.

“Ultimately, the reason I do this is to help companies –– in our community and beyond –– to grow,” Lobos said. “One of the most rewarding parts is to see our customers win.”


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