Name: Isabel Fernandez
Business: Bag Bug
Location: Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Industry: Apparel & Accessories
Reason for starting? I plan to use my company as a vehicle for raising awareness and to provide funds and create care packages for the kids (and their mothers) at Shriner’s Hospitals for Children in Galveston, TX as well as for patients suffering from Lupus. At the age of 9 my uncle had a horrible accident, leaving over 80% of his body burned. This has had a major impact on my mother who was 15 at the time, as she was the one who discovered the accident. The trauma suffered by the entire family has been felt across 3 generations. My uncle lost his legs and spent years in the care of Shriner’s Hospital in Galveston, and thanks to his incredible will, his family, and the staff, he recovered and walked again. My aunt and sister suffer from the incurable auto-immune disease, Lupus. Their struggle and daily pain continue to deeply affect how I approach life. Currently, there is no cure for Lupus but I hope that my efforts to raise awareness and funds will help advance the research for a cure further.
How do you define success? Success is inspiring people and being able to touch someone’s life in a positive way. Success is being able to help those in need. Success is being able to constantly learn and grow as a person. Success is having the means to do all of this without having to worry about money.
Biggest success: Achieving the positive partnership and relationship between Bag Bug and Shriner Hospitals for Children.
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? I was unexpectedly laid off in March of 2015 (1.5 years at the time of writing). At the time, I decided to work full-time on Bag Bug for about 6-12 months, as I was supposed to receive my first order from the manufacturer within those first 6 months, which would allow me to begin selling. Unfortunately, there were and continue to be many delays with my order. Naturally, I had a larger outlay of capital for a longer period of time than I had ever planned or expected. I looked for jobs but didn’t find any. At the same time I was extremely busy developing the product, the website, the marketing materials, and managing the manufacturer all by myself. I have had countless delays, issues and challenges with the manufacturer that have made this endeavor a very expensive one. I’ve had to sell main furniture pieces among other things just to be able to eat and pay my bills. It has definitely been a struggle, but I have and will continue to fight until every woman has a Bag Bug on her shoulder.
Who is your most important role model? My grandfather: He built his entire business from scratch in a foreign country, after fleeing from the civil war in Spain. His tenacity, determination, business acumen, amazing sense of humor, and lively but strict personality made him a very special man. I remember always saying I wanted to be like him when I grew up. Of course, I had no idea what that meant, but I always said I wanted to be like him. As I grew older, I began to understand that he was an entrepreneur, and was very inspired by his story. Now I realize how lucky I am to have had him in my life. He became my father figure at a very early age. I have so many wonderful and vivid memories with my grandfather. He made me discover the beauty of classical music, mother nature, and travel. Thanks to him I had an amazing and happy childhood and learned real values and morals. Unfortunately, he passed away in November of 2013. I feel a deep part of me missing since. I miss him dearly.
Edited by The Story Exchange