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Episode 257: YQD Success Stories: From Teacher To Restauranteur | Lucy Ortega

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Episode 257 is another YQD® success story of one of our former students, Lucy Ortega. She shares her journey from teacher to restauranteur. Listen now!

Episode 257: YQD Success Stories: From Teacher To Restauranteur | Lucia Ortega


Lucy Ortega is a first-generation Latina entrepreneur. She runs a food business – Sierra Mexican Cuisine and creates online content. She also coaches other first-generation individuals who have dreams of transforming their ideas into successful projects and businesses.

Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, Lucy experienced both emotional and financial instability at home. From a young age, she was instilled with the belief that education would be her ticket “out of poverty.” She did what many first-gens did and dove deep into her studies in search of that “golden ticket.”

Lucy attended Wellesley College, located just outside Boston, Massachusetts. Her college experience was challenging, as she struggled academically and had difficulty concentrating. Looking back, it now makes sense why she gravitated toward becoming an entrepreneur. After graduating from college, Lucy embarked on a five-year journey as a secondary science teacher in South LA.

While teaching, Lucy accidentally began to pursue entrepreneurship. Her grandfather’s health suddenly deteriorated, and she witnessed the emotional toll it took on her father, who was unprepared financially to deal with the situation. Seeing her father struggle with both the emotional burden and the financial aspects made Lucy realize that she didn’t want to go through the same challenges. At that moment, she recognized that she was financially “responsible” for three generations: her parents, herself, and her future children.

Lucy vividly remember thinking, “I need to get my money together! *pause in my head* but I also need to increase my income because this teacher salary isn’t enough.” It was then that a lightbulb went off in her mind, and she had a realization: “I am going to start my own business!”

In 2018, Lucy ventured into her 1st business, which was a party rental business. Following that, in 2020, she dove into money coaching. Finally, in 2022, she made the life-changing decision to leave her teaching career behind and wholeheartedly dedicate herself to Sierra Mexican Cuisine. Sierra represents the embodiment of Lucy’s drive, encompassing her culture, entrepreneurial spirit, and the legacy she aims to build.

Lucy is honored to share her knowledge and experiences in her entrepreneurial endeavors. Her hope is to be of service to other first-generation individuals, supporting them as they navigate their own entrepreneurial journeys and build their own legacies. She wants other first-gens not just to dream big but to believe and embody their badass entrepreneur self!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at lucy@lucybyortega.com


This week, Lucy shares her journey from being a teacher to starting multiple successful businesses. Growing up in a low-income family, she witnessed the struggles caused by financial issues and domestic violence. Inspired by her mother’s entrepreneurial spirit, Lucy started a party rental business and later transitioned to the food industry.

She emphasizes the importance of self-belief, taking risks, and prioritizing self-care as an entrepreneur. Lucy also discusses the challenges and rewards of working with family and the significance of preserving family recipes and culture. She has received recognition and grants for her business and plans to offer business coaching in the future.

Chapters:

  • 00:00 – Introduction and Background
  • 01:04 – From Teacher to Entrepreneur
  • 03:23 – Entrepreneurship as a Necessity
  • 04:44 – The Inner Hustle and Mindset
  • 05:39 – Transitioning from Teaching to Business
  • 08:24 – Starting a Party Rental Business
  • 10:43 – Transition to Food Business
  • 12:56 – From Street Food to Brick and Mortar
  • 14:52 – Balancing Multiple Business Ventures
  • 17:58 – Transitioning from Street Food to Restaurant
  • 21:18 – The Importance of Self-Belief and Taking Risks
  • 24:38 – Prioritizing Self-Care as an Entrepreneur
  • 26:59 – Navigating Business with Family
  • 28:34 – Letting Go of Identity and Embracing Change
  • 33:28 – Preserving Family Recipes and Culture
  • 37:32 – Recognition and Success in the Business
  • 40:41 – Future Plans and Business Coaching

We want to thank Lucy for coming onto the show. We love to see women like her unapologetically show up as a badass First-Gen Latina entrepreneur. We need to see so many more examples of what it looks like to follow your dreams and actually make them come true!

Loving episode 257? Leave us a review on Apple podcasts. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, LinkedIn & YouTube!

Until next time, stay empowered, stay inspired & #staypoderosa ✨💎


Watch The Full Video Episode Now On YouTube!


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Financially Lit! offers you culturally relevant and relatable personal finance advice that will allow you to finally feel seen, heard, and understood. Whether it’s the guilt you feel from being the first person to “make it” while members of your family are still struggling, or the way financial trauma manifests itself in negative and limiting beliefs around money, Jannese Torres is here to guide you through it all.

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Meet Jannese

Jannese Torres is a award-winning Latina Money Expert, Educator, Speaker, Writer and Business Coach. She became an accidental entrepreneur after a job loss led her to create a successful Latin food blog, Delish D’Lites. Now, she helps her clients and listeners build successful online businesses that allow them to pursue financial independence and freedom.

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