Interview with new member Ayari Aguayo of Honey Shine Inc.
What is your business?
My name is Ayari and I oversee Honey Shine Inc., a girl specific enrichment program that provides opportunities for girls from at-risk communities. Honey Shine’s primary goal is to ensure that 100% of its program participants learn life skills necessary to becoming Women of Empowerment.
Where are you from?
Originally I was born at a military base in San Diego and grew up on the US/Mexico border. Growing up as a Mexican/Puerto Rican in a Bordertown is a unique experience. I began my schooling in Mexico and finished in the states. Thanks to my pursuit of higher education, I’ve had the opportunity to live all across the states and study around the world.
How did you come to Miami?
In 2018 I was going through a divorce while living in DC and simultaneously hitting a professional wall. One of my closest girlfriends had recently arrived in Miami after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and invited me to start a new chapter here. After a few months of contemplation and healing, I finally rented a minivan, packed everything I owned into it, said my farewells and a big Bienvenido to Miami!
What is your professional/business history?
For over a decade, my life’s work has been in the public sector with non-profit organizations. Before landing in Miami, I served as the Reproductive Justice Senior Coordinator at the Young Women’s Project in Washington, DC, Development Coordinator at Defenders of Wildlife, Policy Development Researcher with the ACLU of Puerto Rico, Community-Based Program Assistant Manager with the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, and Assistant Director with the Chicana/o Youth Leadership Camp in California.
What makes your business successful/unique? Anything you take special attention to or pride in?
Sisterhood. Hope. Empowerment. Resilience.
Our Honey Bugs, what we affectionately call the girls in our program, have a deep sense of belonging and togetherness. In previous organizations, we’ve had to pull teeth to get high school girls into the programs and the retention rates were always low. I’m constantly amazed by the overwhelming response our girls, across all ages have, especially our teenagers. Our Honey Bugs constantly remind me that this sisterhood is what brings them here and our dedicated team of empowered women keep them here. They come in to the program craving a safe and nurturing home,
Our team is privileged to strengthen the already existing resilience in our Honey Bugs while providing them tools and resources necessary to become positive contributing citizens.
How is it running a female owned business? Struggles? Advantages?Our fearless leader and founder, both women, make the task seem easy and lead as positive examples in our community. Our staff have seen moments where each of our leaders are undermined and underestimated. This has its advantages as well as we our actions and impact prove that our women should be taken seriously, have the business acumen to grow capacity, and have a sisterhood to uplift them along the way.
Outside of running the business, what are some of your personal interests?
Personally, I enjoy time in nature especially at the beach and the old trees around Miami. I recently joined the Miami’s Vice City Roller Derby team, which is something that I have wanted to do since I was a teenager (both terrifying and exciting). Off the skates, I enjoy gastronomy, travel, meditation, and friends and family.