Creating a collective of women who support, inspire, and learn from one another is a challenging task. But, when Connie Leon and her friends realized there was a gap in representation for Latinas in Houston, that is exactly what they did.
Houston Latina Bloggers has now been thriving for almost five years and has nearly 600 members. The success of this group is largely due to consistency, persistence and strong leadership within the organization.
We sat down with Connie Leon to talk about Houston Latina Bloggers, the importance of bringing Latinas or other women of color together, and how other cities can replicate their success.
Tell us Houston Latina Blogger’s origin story.
Houston Latina Bloggers was founded in 2015 at a local conference where we didn’t see representation of us as Latinas or women of color. We thought it was odd that in a city so diverse there were only a handful of women of color in the room. It just didn’t feel right so we sat at a round table of eight, searched online for the name, didn’t find anything that existed, and created a private Facebook group. That is where it took off and flourished into what it is today. Slowly we started creating all the other social media platforms and now have a full website and following, and have expanded into Texas Latina Bloggers.
Why do you think Houston Latina Bloggers has been so successful?
It was created to fill a gap for a group that didn’t have representation, as a way for us to create a collective of all other local Latina writers so that we could support one another and cultivate a true sisterhood. It has evolved into so much more. Now, our purpose has become to create a nationwide awareness of Houston-based Latinx professionals, influencers, content creators, entrepreneurs and writers while simultaneously establishing a presence within our community and online. We continuously disseminate a wide range of relevant and pertinent information to our audience not only to the Latino/Hispanic community in Houston, but nationwide.
How can other cities replicate your success?
My best advice is to create a group of leaders that are first off willing to help the group grow and are supportive of the cause to genuinely grow together. I have tried to create a true sisterhood and support group with Houston Latina Bloggers; there is no room for cliques, we all help each other. Secondly, being open and transparent is key. We share resources and contacts openly with the group, because I don’t have time for the mentality that I have to keep certain connections secret because they are “mine” – we provide tips and support for everyone, no matter what. You have to be willing to step in and show up, there is no room for laziness.
How has social media played a role? Do you think you would have had the same results 10 years ago?
I think social media has been an essential tool for us to grow the way we have, but honestly, I think the group would have grown by word of mouth, emailing, showing up to in-person events and some old school phone calls. I truly believe where there is a will there’s a way, and if you are determined, anything is possible. The evolution of social media platforms and influencers as a whole is non-stop, so the more resources we can use the better. It’s not just about the resources though, it’s how you use them and how real and genuine you are about it. I am happy with the level of our growth and its speed; everything has come at just the right time for us.
Mayor Sylvester Turner made September 17th the annual Houston Latina Bloggers Day. What does that mean to you?
It’s an amazing accomplishment, and I would not have been able to do it all without my team. I am always in awe of the amount of support that we constantly receive from the members of our group and our community. I never think that we are being “watched” but this makes me feel proud and ready to continuously take the group to the next level. To me it means new opportunities to grow and expand our reach and our purpose. It has helped me think about what is next for Houston Latina Bloggers and how much more can we do to help everyone grow and be more noticed within this industry. Which is why we are ready to tackle our first ever Houston Latina Bloggers Conference event where we will showcase the more informative/educational/advocate side of our organization.
Cover photo Ashley Arden Photography
Gabi De la Rosa lives in Houston with her husband and three children. You can usually find her at a great local restaurant or out exploring HTX with her family. Visit her on Instagram @gabioftheroses_htx