How Vanessa Santos Fein Builds Community and Fosters Joy as Co-CEO of #WeAllGrow Latina

Finding like-minded people who bolster and support you every day can be everything, and Vanessa Santos Fein knows this better than most.

Vanessa is an entrepreneur, investor, brand strategist and motivational speaker who's dedicated her life to creating opportunities for BIPOC women everywhere, and she's doing some of her most impactful work yet as the co-partner and co-CEO of #WeAllGrow Latina. This unique lifestyle community exists both online and in person for Latinas and femme Latines to uplift each other, helping them with everything from business growth tools to mentorships, wellness and healing sessions and more. She's a major inspiration to us, as well, and we got the chance to find out all about her work and what it means to her in the interview below.

Name: Vanessa Santos Fein

IG handles: @VanessaSantosFein and @weallgrowlatina

Hometown: Born and Raised in NYC, currently living in Los Angeles, California

Zodiac sign: Taurus sun, moon in Capricorn, Cancer rising

 

1. Vanessa has had an entrepreneurial spirit from a very young age.

"My first entrepreneurial venture began at the age of 13, when I purchased specialty pens in bulk and resold them to help cover household expenses. I didn't know it then, but growing up low-income positioned me to look at opportunities all around me and supported my creativity in creating non-traditional income streams."

-Vanessa Santos Fein

vanessa santos working headshot

(Image courtesy of Vanessa Santos Fein)

2. As an adult, she spent many of her corporate years at various startups before becoming an entrepreneur yet again forming a record label with her husband, singer-songwriter Derik Fein.

 

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3. Her third entrepreneurial venture was launching an agency specifically to support women of color through transitions in both life and business. That eventually led her to #WeAllGrow Latina.

"Surrounding myself with other entrepreneurial-minded women led me to attend the #WeAllGrow Summit in 2019, which planted the seed that I wanted to dedicate my life to uplifting the stories and voices of Latinas. After attending the 2019 summit, I remained in touch with Ana Flores, who founded #WeAllGrow, and after leaving the corporate world, Ana reached out with a wild proposition of joining her as partner and co-CEO so that we may continue our life's work of helping other Latina entrepreneurs, creators and career professionals build socio and economic power."

-Vanessa Santos Fein

4. She truly believes in the power of building communities.

"So much of our own personal insecurities and traumas lead us to believe that we must go at it alone, and I've seen firsthand in growing our community alongside Ana and our leadership team over the last year that it's in sisterhood and hermandad that we can equitably grow without burning out. Building in community means acknowledging that there is room for all of us to thrive. It means that we must support each other and be in places where decisions are being made so that we have access to resources and opportunities that are indicative of the great financial and cultural influence that we have. It's important to unite with other like-minded, entrepreneurial spirits because there is power in numbers. Much of the work we do is behind the scenes so that brands and corporations understand the importance of investing in us, in the community, and that allows us to continue to offer the opportunities, tools and resources due in part to the amigas that advocate for us within these big organizations."

-Vanessa Santos Fein

We All Grow Latina ana flores and vanessa santos

(Image courtesy of Vanessa Santos Fein)

 

5. The name #WeAllGrow Latina means everything to Vanessa.

"To me, our name #WeAllGrow Latina, means living authentically, having limitless opportunities, building from a place of joy and embracing all of the intersectionalities of our cultura. It means that we are not a monolith and that how we choose to identify and show up deserves to be honored. It means to me that you can create, work and live life in harmony. It means the opportunity to show up as you are and to take up space, because when one of us grows, we all grow."

-Vanessa Santos Fein

6. #WeAllGrow Latina is all about allowing others to be heard.

"Our mission is to elevate the voices and stories of Latines via the power of community through virtual and in-person proprietary experiential events, culturally relevant content, mentorship opportunities and resources to increase visibility and grow Latina's social and economic power. We build with intention, we create with joy and we're not chasing memes or trends. We think about the experience our community will have with anything we do, and we ask ourselves, will this bring us/them joy? That helps to guide us in all that we do, from the content we put forward to the partnerships we align with."

-Vanessa Santos Fein

We All Grow Summit Stage

(Image courtesy of Vanessa Santos Fein)

 

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7. The best advice she ever received came from her incredible mother.

"Ever since I was young, I was usually the only woman and Latina in the room, from my teenage years when I was competing in Taekwondo tournaments to when I found myself in the boardroom in the corporate world. Many times I would feel depleted because I was trying to be something for everyone, trying to fit in—in essence, trying to shrink myself so that I could be accepted. One day, my mom, with her wicked sixth sense, called me to check in and she could hear that I was crying. I was alone in my apartment, looking out of the window, wondering to myself, why does it have to be so difficult? I said to my mom, 'Sometimes I just feel dumb, like I don't get it. I feel like people are making fun of me and I also know that I am getting passed up for promotions because of where I come from. I am doing everything I can to fit in.' My mom took a moment of pause and then said to me, "Mija, who cares what they think? Care about what you think about you. If you are happy with yourself, then you will be happy in your work and in your life. You aren't there by accident, they need you. Don't let them take your power away.' Those words carried me through all of my career milestones because they reminded me that being different was a good thing, and that I was in all of those places and situations for a reason. I needed to embrace who I am—my culture, my ancestry—and not break myself into pieces to be palatable to others. As long as I love me and am pleased with me, anything that is meant for me will be."

-Vanessa Santos Fein

8. Her routines and rituals have created the habits that support her to achieve all of the dreams she's reached to this day.

"I abide by personal mission statements so that I can continue to be a joy spreader in this world and also be my best self. Of the many, two values are important to me, which have helped me build the network and friendships that I have today.

The first is that I always treat people with respect. In my teenage years, I remember going to work with my mom when she was part of the maintenance crew at a gym. I recall on many occasions how poorly my mom was treated—the condescending language that was used when gym members spoke to her—and it made my blood boil. She was being marginalized for being a brown woman. I won't forget how that made us feel, and that is why I care so deeply about how people feel. Therefore I have always treated people with respect. We are all in this human experience together, doing the best we can, kindness and respect go a long way. No one should feel less than because of their ethnicity, job title or economic status. It was always important to me to treat people the best way possible, because even when my mom was spoken to the way she was, she only ever responded with kindness. And believe me, that will disarm anyone.

The second habit is that I prioritize my self-care and mental health. I am a professional hype woman. I love celebrating people, their wins, their pivots, their lessons. In order for me to show up for others and to be able to pour into them, I pour into myself through a dedicated morning routine and Sunday rituals. My mornings are sacred and I meditate, journal, workout, go for a long walk and care deeply about giving myself what my body or mind needs at that moment. I also love therapy and seeking out the wisdom of other thought leaders to pour into me. Many wait until things are dire to seek help. I say that even at your best, you need therapy, a life/business coach and your journal. Prioritizing my self-care and mental health have helped me through all the difficult moments in my life and support my continued growth in life."

-Vanessa Santos Fein

9. Her biggest tip for finding the community that will help you grow is to first be very intentional about growing your personal "board of advisors."

"Go where you feel seen and heard. Surround yourself with a supportive network of people who speak positively about you when you aren't around and uplift you so that you can uplift others. If that means changing your circle, do so. What makes me so proud of the community we have nurtured is that we thrive in collaboration. We care about each other. We want to see us all become wealthy, healed and successful. Aila Castane, our Amigas community manager is one of the kindest souls I've had the pleasure of knowing, and she pours so much beautiful light and joy into our community so that all of our members feel supported."

-Vanessa Santos Fein

 

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10. Vanessa finds immense joy in the work she does.

"It comes with great responsibility, and I am honored to have the opportunity to be able to nurture and build community alongside my partners Ana Flores and Patty Arvielo. I get to work with some of the most talented and joyful Latines, who understand the mission and show up with so much pride. It's also so rewarding to see the ripple effect that our programming, events, content and membership community have had in the world. Through our work, we continue to create a more equitable and abundant society, where we are showing millions of Latines every day that we are no longer surviving, we are no longer the minority, we are the majority and we are thriving!"

-Vanessa Santos Fein

Vanessa Santos as the We All Grow Summit

(Image courtesy of Vanessa Santos Fein)

11. Vanessa says her Latina culture means joy, love, diversity and resiliency in her life.

"We are a culture of celebration. We love with our whole selves, and our history is so complex, which makes us incredibly resilient. Latina means being unstoppable."

-Vanessa Santos Fein

12. Her identity truly is key to who she is, and the work she does as a whole.

"I am a proud daughter of immigrants and a joyful soul who wants to make the most of this lifetime by sharing what I've learned and create a world where my younger siblings can have the same access to resources, funding and opportunities as the privileged. The work I do isn't for me, it's in service to my community."

-Vanessa Santos Fein

 

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