We had the good fortune of connecting with Maricel Dominguez-Watson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maricel, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I hate to start on a negative note but it is my reality, and that of many others. We are in an age where we need to share our stories and create awareness. I started this business because I was dissatisfied with the jobs I had and even more so because I kept getting bypassed for promotions. As a Latina woman, it just seemed that I could never measure up. You hear stories of inequality and you hope you never experience this, but deep down you know it is just a matter of time. So I started this business to pave my own way up the corporate ladder and declare myself CEO/President! I was not going to wait and hope that things changed; but I was going to change, I was going to take control.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The business is ConneXion Research; we are a consumer and market research firm, specializing in the Latinx community. It was definitely not easy getting here. Almost every job I had after college, I lasted only two years. Besides lack of recognition in most of these jobs, I knew there was something unfulfilling about them, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then when I got laid off from one of these jobs, I started a small business providing tax, insurance and other services primarily for Hispanics. That business pretty much flopped. But, I was bitten by the entrepreneurship bug. You would think that failure would have discouraged me, but on the contrary, the thrill of being my own boss was immeasurable. (LESSON LEARNED: Sometimes you need to fail to find success). However, I couldn’t start another business right away, not only did I not know what would be the best business to start but I was broke, or more like deep in debt. My husband and I had both lost jobs and our debt was in the thousands. Eventually he found a job and all I found was an $7 an hour internship at an advertising agency. Talk about a bruised ego. But, I sucked it up and I took the internship. Within a few months I was hired as a full-time employee but most importantly that job gave me the idea for the business I have today! (LESSON LEARNED: Sometimes you find what you need in the unlikeliest of places but you have to be willing to take a risk and trust in God). Now, bills still needed to be paid so after I left the agency, I started the new business part-time, kept doing taxes part-time and took on another full-time job. After four years of being completely over-worked, gaining over 20 pounds, I finally was ready to launch the business full-time, and take control of my life and career. (LESSON LEARNED: Sometimes you just need to take that leap and take control but again this happens when you trust in a higher power).
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I had a friend coming to visit, I would basically prepare a foodie itinerary. Houston has so many great restaurants that it is hard to pick just a few but I would give it a try. Once her plane arrived on Saturday, we would head out to the Original Ninfa’s. Assuming this is her first time in Houston, it would be great to start of the introduction with a classic and traditional restaurant. We would then go to Discovery Green to people watch and walk off our food so we can be ready for dinner! Since this is a special visit, then a special occasion restaurant makes sense. We would go to B&B Butcher’s and reserve a table on the rooftop, enjoying our limited time great weather. The next day, we would be good girls and go for a morning jog at Memorial Park. But, the real reason is to build up our appetite! Brunch is in order, so many places to pick, again enjoying the limited good weather is important, so finding a restaurant with a patio is a top priority. We would end up choosing Backstreet Café and enjoy every bite. Then we will chill at my house. I have a beautiful outdoor patio and it would be a shame not to take advantage of it. We would order in some Cantonese food from Mein in Chinatown and just gossip and laugh through the night. The next morning she will head back and go on a diet!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to give a shout out to my family. This may sound cliché but without my family’s support I would still not be pursuing this business. From my parents who taught me important values and morals, to my siblings who have showed me the real meaning of loyalty, and to my husband who has cheered me on, they have all played a crucial role in my success.