Special Report: Rising RGV entrepreneurship amid the pandemic

Special Reports

Harlingen, Texas (KVEO) — Amidst the pandemic, two Rio Grande Valley women found a new career after some setbacks and realizing their love for art and fashion was bigger than they thought.

Before the pandemic, Roxanna Treviño and Andrea Santoi were uncertain on what to do after pursuing a higher education. 

“I graduated and thought I was going to follow a conventional path, that I was going to [do] nine to five doing construction documents,” said Treviño.

While Treviño went to school to be an architect, Santoi was on her path to becoming a nurse.

“I wanted to be a nurse, that didn’t work out,” said Santoi.

About five months ago, Santoi’s boyfriend introduced her to resin which sparked curiosity on what she could do creatively.

During Santoi’s search, she discovered jewelry could be made out of resin.

Andrea Santoi working on a pair of earrings

That discovery inspired her to practice her skills. As time went by, she sparked the beginning of her jewelry line, Mon Amour.

“Mon Amour means my love [in French],” said Santoi.

According to Santoi, the name for her jewelry line was inspired by her always telling her mom how much love she put into her work.

Santoi was impressed that people were interested in her jewelry through Instagram. She said she has shipped her work across the United States.

As for Treviño, her small business became more than an idea after her parents opened up their own restaurant. She said her family has always been passionate about running their own business.

With her architecture background, Treviño began experimenting with what she wanted her own business to look like.

Mexican culture and her passion for fashion helped bring her store, Para Mi, to life.

Treviño said her artisan jewelry is a top seller but fashionable face masks were a top seller at the beginning.

“We sold thousands of masks,” said Treviño.

Treviño said that masks were in high demand because disposable face masks weren’t available in stores.

One of the reasons why the turnout sparked joy in Treviño was because she was able to help local artisans who were struggling financially due to the pandemic.

“Not only would it help protect people but will also…provide for our artisans who at the time were out of work,” she said.

The artisan community was heavily affected because there was no active tourism, according to Treviño.

“This was a great opportunity for it to be a win-win,” she said.

Both Treviño and Santoi say they are proud of themselves for overcoming their fears of taking a different route in life. 

Today, they look forward to continuing their journey as entrepreneurs and hope their stories will inspire others to find themselves. 

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