- Daily Zen
“I realize that to have a successful business, no matter what the industry is, you need to have all of the simple details worked out before moving forward.” – Ivette Naranjo
In an exclusive interview with Industry Leaders, Ivette Naranjo, Owner of Cafeina Wynwood, talks about breaking the stereotypes as well as her hospitality venture.
Industry Leaders: What was on your mind when you became a serial entrepreneur at the age of 16?
Ivette: I am an immigrant from Colombia arrived in Chicago at the age of 3 and moved to Tampa, Fl at the age of 16 where I started my entrepreneur journey for reasons different than most. What really kicked off my passion for business was a spring break trip I wanted to go on to Daytona beach. To pay for the trip, I had to find a job quickly that paid well. This led me to joining a carpet cleaning business, and my eyes were opened to the flooring world.
After this job, I realized that I wanted to move forward with a similar business model. I and my mother packed up and made the move to Miami where I opened my very own flooring company, which gave me a taste for business ownership. My mother manages the flooring business and continues the work with strictly government organizations, like airports and schools.
After a few years, I purchased a warehouse in the Wynwood Art District. The original plan was to use it for an expansion of my flooring businesses, but I found a great opportunity that I couldn’t pass up — I was able to turn that warehouse into the first bar / gallery in the district. This led me to open Cafeina Wynwood Lounge, which is still up and running in the district today.
My entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t stop there! After seeking out new business opportunities, I landed on 1-800 WATER DAMAGE, a property restoration business. I realized that this was a great fit for someone with my background, and bounced on the opportunity. I currently own and operate 1-800 WATER DAMAGE of Metro Miami, where I help local residents who experience water and/or fire damage to their home, and is even given the opportunity to travel to towns that have faced natural disasters to help with their cleanup efforts.
Industry Leaders: Can you emphasize on some strategies that you used to excel as an entrepreneur in the industry?
Ivette: I have many tricks up my sleeve when it comes to excelling as an entrepreneur. One of the most important strategy I use is having a high focus on organization and efficiency. I realize that to have a successful business, no matter what the industry is, you need to have all of the simple details worked out before moving forward. Even things like knowing where your pens are so you can know exactly where you need to go to take quick notes after a call will dramatically impact your efficiency as an entrepreneur and make big changes in your work ethic. I realize that to produce the product or service you promise your clients, you need to know where all of your tools are and where your business stands.
I also realize that to be successful, you need to perfect your listening skills. I found great advice and strategies from listening to entrepreneurs and business professionals, seeing what they were doing, and using that information to guide my actions. If you listen to the people around you, you can absorb what is happening and use that to improve your business and work ethic. It is not always about reinventing the wheel, but perfecting what is already there.
“It is not always about reinventing the wheel, but perfecting what is already there.”
I also had to quickly learn how to adapt. When I started my first business, ways of communication were extremely different. Now, with the influx of technology surrounding us, I have had to transition my businesses to fit the new standards of an online presence and communication. I am great at adapting, though, which has led to my continued success. I now understand strategic communication and how to promote my businesses on social media.
Industry Leaders: What were some major roadblocks for you while working as an entrepreneur?
Ivette: The biggest ‘roadblock’ that I have faced while working as an entrepreneur is being able to constantly stay up to date with new industry standards and norms. Although I am a quick learner and prioritize adapting, it can still be a long transition period to change the way you work based on new standards. When I started my first business to install and restore flooring, it was a completely different field. The restoration industry in today’s day and age is based completely on a science, from the tools you use to the amount of drying equipment you have in a room. This change, although not unanticipated took a lot of learning to be utilized correctly.
Industry Leaders: Do you have any high-end challenges in mind that turned-out to be easy tricks for you?
Ivette: One of my main challenges was actually one of my very own business ventures! I found that after working so long in the blue collar field for most of my life, starting Cafeina Wynwood Lounge was a whole new world of business. I had to learn how to switch my brain from government flooring and restoration thinking to working with consumers and staff members at the lounge. I shared that the “hard hat to high heels” lifestyle just wasn’t for me, even if the new experience was exciting to have. I liked being able to work with a variety of people, but realized that my calling was to stick with what I know – hard manual labor.
Industry Leaders: Did you ever had to make compromises with your ideas to get the deal done as an entrepreneur?
Ivette: I am a firm believer that when you have a goal, you need to stick with it no matter what roadblocks are in your way. This was proven through my journey with the lounge — after I realized that the business was not what I had anticipated and did not align with my goals, I had someone else step in to help manage and run the business so I can focus on ventures where my heart and soul were fully aligned. I realized that I thoroughly enjoyed working with government professionals and in the blue collar line of work, and stuck to it rather than making a compromise.
I compared my view on compromising with my ideals like changing lanes — you just have to go for it if it is what you want to do, when you stop to think about your moves and question if you should make a different decision, you can crash. The best advice I can give is to stay in your lane and keep your goals intact.