Monday, June 4, 2012

Karla Iguina >

Karla & Manuel Iguina, Owners & Founders, Mio Restaurant

What do you need to be an entrepreneur?
Ganas! As with many other aspects of life, to be a successful entrepreneur one needs the will, passion, vision, and perseverance. Of course, you need to sell your vision to key investors.

What did inspire you to start your business?
Inspiration for our business grew from my husband passion of food, people and community. He has always been interested in the restaurant business and aspired to own his own after years of managing successfully other enterprises. But above all, we enjoy people! The diversity of serving a clientele in a city such as Washington, DC is exciting and invigorating. It keeps us creating and growing.

How did you finance it?
We presented our vision plan to investors. Two of them without hesitation turned our vision into theirs and quickly committed to our goal. That of course was matched our lifetime savings and here we are today.

Being Hispanic… Does it have any influence on your business?
Without a doubt, being Latino - owned influences our business every day. It is more than just delicious flavors and colors, it is about a work ethic and respect for familia.
Our restaurant name is Mio. ( The tagline to introduce Mio is “Mine, Yours, Ours… Salud!”. We have established a sense of community that you would find in our hometowns across the country or back in our home countries. This sense of belonging and (comunidad) community is particularly special as Mio is located three blocks from The White House and our clientele covers the spectrum.

In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
Familia. I have an amazing family! Today, married to a wonderful Puerto Rican man, my family includes my immediate kin in Mexico, my adopted family in Puerto Rico, and my darling baby boy.
But the family continues to grow as we keep adopting the friendly guests that frequent Mio. Thanks to our immediate and extended new family we have been able to get through thick and thin.

What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
I know that your readers can relate to this point – our biggest challenge was the economic down turn, especially in 2009. We made it through thanks to the financial restructure we underwent which was led by our keen knowledge of our client base.

If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
Mio is not an individual endeavor. Mio is enhanced by all – including Latin Vision’s readership and by those who visit and touch our establishment.
As with many businesses we continue to learn and evolve. We learn from our staff, our customers, our community.

What was your childhood ambition?
To create something that allows me to help others. I think We did it. We create jobs, we create a program to support foundations or different causes. We create delicious dishes, We create a unique menu…

Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire?
Three… that’s nearly impossible to do! The backbone of this country are the small businesses throughout the nation. Especially when we are talking about Latino businesses. The country depends on Latinos who have been establishing businesses everywhere. It is about the paletero in Pilsen, IL, the IT start-up in San Jose, CA, and the taqueria in El Paso, TX.
We admire many but to mention one that stand out is Gloria Rodriguez from Comunicad.

What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success? The challenge continues to be balance. As Latinas we tend to believe that we must be “wonder women” and take on not just our careers, families, community, etc. - all at once. I know that like me, there are many women throughout the country that battle with this issue.
But don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining – I am fortunate to stand on the shoulders of giants who have propelled me to where I am today. I thank all who have and continue to support me, teach me, and trusted me.

What is your favorite quote?
La mejor manera de predecir el futuro es creƔndolo. "The best way to predict the future is to create it." Alan Curtis Kay. 1971, Abraham Lincoln use it as well.

Is it difficult to be unconventional?
Unconventional? What does conventional look like? For us, with the diversity in our family (Mexican –Puerto Rican), with the locality of our business (Washington, DC), conventional does not resonate. We are defined by the beautiful combination of values, backgrounds, and visions that surrounds us.

Biggest mistake made?
There was a moment in time in which we had to reevaluate our focus and values. Today we understand that our Latino roots as well as our business vision must remain intact.

Do you consider yourself an innovator?
I had not thought of myself as such before but as we continue to evolve as a restaurant in the nation’s capital, I do think we are innovating. One idea I instituted in Mio to keep us fresh and dynamic and give back to the community is the concept of “Chef for a Day”. The premise is having a cooking aficionado serve as a “chef” for a special evening.
Each “Chef for a Day” helps promote the event as well as identifies a charity to receive a donation. Thus far we have raised over $47K for nonprofits. At the end, our success depends on the success of our community.

About the company
Our Restaurant is affectionately called the "Embassy of Latin America in DC," Since 2007 Mio has captured the hearts and palates of DC’s most influential Latin Americans with a convivial table and open kitchen culture.
Inspired by the Mio family of foodies who join us for dinner to connect with friends, culture and the flavors they left back home, we have set out to push the boundaries of traditional dishes with fresh creativity and are excited to share the launch of our “Cocina Abierta” concept with renowned Puerto Rican Chef and friend Giovanna Huyke as our resident Chef for 2012. Our new Cocina Abierta menu combines casual and familiar with creative and authentic.
Being Latin is not required to enjoy Mio but once here you will find that a part of you already is.
La Cocina esta Abierta!!
Menu Description: Urban Latin American Cuisine, casual dining setting.
Menu Price Lunch: $18 to $40 Dinner: $20 to $70

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