Monica Chavez: U.S. Marine to Life Long DIYer
“During my time in the Marines, I learned a lot about myself and knew what I needed to thrive and succeed in life,” shares creative entrepreneur and U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Monica Chavez. “My military experience provided me with a plethora of life lessons. The most valuable being; with hard work, I can do anything I set my mind to. I am a woman and small in stature but I did not let that be an excuse or define any physical challenges I faced in my five years in the Marine Corps.”
A daughter to Mexican immigrants, a typical day for Monica starts with tending to her family’s needs, her husband and son. “As much I would like to get to “work”, my son comes first,” she shares. “It is important to me that I raise him to be a good man.”
From working in her studio creating heirloom dolls to creating social media content for her business, Chavez is mindful of including a self-care activity daily. Though daily tasks vary, her priorities stay the same: her son, herself, her husband, and managing her home and business.
Focused on bringing attention to mental health issues and uplifting women of color, Chavez served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and then 10 years as a 911 dispatcher. Today she is taking her life skills combined with the values taught to her by immigrant parents to bring diversity into industries where Latinas are rarely seen, the creative world.
“The work ethic my parents have taught me since the day I was born has shaped me into the woman I am today,” she shares. “Their values combined with an American education has provided me the tenacity and knowledge to succeed.”
As an entrepreneur, she is able to do what she chooses to do. “When people ask me “well, what do you do all day?”, I say“whatever I want”,” she shares. “That freedom, which my husband and I have worked extremely hard to be able to have, has provided me the ability to create and grow both personally and professionally.”
Despite the ‘freedom’ she has with her time and decisions, one of Monica’s biggest challenges is balancing motherhood while running a business. As a Latina raised by traditional Mexican gender roles, finding what works for her and her modern family, without feeling any guilt is an ongoing internal battle. With a supportive husband alongside she is able to tackle it all.
“I grew up having idols that did not look anything like me and I want to be able to change that for the next generation,” she shares. “As the Latino population in the U.S. grows, Latinas have the potential to impact communities and companies in a way that’s never been seen. It is up to us to be seen AND heard in order to force the necessary positive changes in various areas.”
Today, she is making a difference by drawing attention to mental health issues, and bringing diversity into an industry where women of color are rarely given space, but to also uplift other women of color along the way.
Chavez co-founded a group on Instagram called Create in Color, a platformed aimed to build a community of resources for anyone who identifies as a woman of color in a creative field. “These women looking to advance themselves and possibly start their own businesses inspires me to keep learning and growing myself.”
Similar to other veterans transitioning from military life into the civilian world was difficult for Monica, however, she was able to find her way to success. “Within the first year of leaving active duty, I became pregnant with my first son,” she shares. “In the two years that followed, with my son as my motivation, I was able to reinvent myself as both a mother and a full-time police dispatcher.”
Today, Monica would like for others to know that regardless of where life takes them or the challenges they may face getting there, every season has something to teach them. “It is up to you to open yourself up to learn and persevere,” she shares.
Her advice to anyone transitioning from military life to civilian life is to maintain structure in their life in some way. “Every day in the service is spent with someone telling you what to do, where to be, and how to dress,” she shares. “When all of that goes away overnight after several years it can be a bit of a culture shock.”
You can check out Monica’s inclusive heirloom dolls online here. Check out her new collection of keepsake dolls for 2020 which include a variety for both children and adults alike.
A Military veteran, grieving mom, former 911 dispatcher, and born maker, Monica Chavez has a passion for handcrafting meaningful things and creating beautiful yet practical spaces for her family to enjoy. She is the creator of House of Esperanza, a platform created so that others can see ‘hope lives here’ regardless of life’s challenges. Online shop: https://www.hofe.shop/