Leyanis doesn’t stop! She is a Blogger, Motivational Speaker and Co-Founder of Major Marketplace, an online marketplace for minority businesses and those who want to support them. To top it all off, the 24-year-old is also the current Miss Black Florida USA. Leyanis was born in Cuba and arrived in the US with her immigrant family, when she was 3.
What or who inspired you to do what you do?
My family. I wouldn’t be here without them. More specifically my two little sisters: Sinayel and Leyanelis. Our story is very similar to many other people’s stories. We’re immigrants and came to this country with nothing. We came in search for the American Dream, which my parents are still in search of. I do this for them so that their sacrifices, all the odd jobs, long hours at work, all the opportunities they tried to provide for me, weren’t for nothing. Now, as for my two little sisters..they look up to me. Being a big sister is by far the hardest job in the world. I have these two little people watching my every move. I watch the steps I take for them. I want them to grow up to be powerful, confident, and to know that they’re beautiful and capable of anything they set their minds to, regardless of where they come from or what they look like.
As a major goal, what would you like the impact of your work to be?
I want to be known for making a difference and for empowering others. That’s what Major Marketplace is about. It’s about helping others. Helping small minority businesses succeed.
Minority businesses are on the rise but only make up 12% of all sales
,and likewise, that money rarely circulates long enough in the minority community to make a profound difference. My team and I are hoping to change that.
How would you title your autobiography?
“Orgullosa Poderosa Afro-Latina (Proud, Powerful Afro-Latina)” I owe my successes not only to the support from my family and friends but also, to knowing myself. It is with knowing myself that I learned to love myself.
Growing up Afro-Latina, wasn’t easy, I was too Black to be Latina and too Latina to be Black.
or at least that’s what I was told. I didn’t fit in here. I didn’t fit in there. I didn’t fit in anywhere, which made me despise my skin color, my curls, my culture, my Cuban-ness. It took me a long time to look in the mirror and see someone I thought was beautiful but this wouldn’t have been possible without finding, knowing and loving myself. Today, I am orgullosa or proud to be Afro-Latina because it means that I am poderosa or powerful. To me, it’s important to know where you come from and where you are so that you know where you’re going. My mission is to push others to find, know and love themselves just like I do!
What inspiring woman would you most like to have dinner with?
If I could have dinner with Michelle Obama, Oprah and Beyonce I would probably need to be resuscitated! Each one of them is my idol for a different reason. Michelle Obama for not only being the First Lady but for doing so as a Black woman with class and poise and exceeding expectations. She set the bar for future First Ladies. Oprah, for her story. She started from the bottom and built a name for herself in an industry I’m passionate about. I always said I wanted to be the next Oprah but rather than mimic her I want to do things my own way. Beyonce, because she’s one of the hardest working women I know. She’s talented but always remains humble and never ceases to give back. Each of these women have something we can all learn from. I hope to be looked up to too one day.
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
Don’t be afraid of failure. Failure means you tried. Failure is success because as one door closes another opens. Never be scared to fail because it’s means you’re on to something. Your time is coming! Keep pushing and stay ready for your moment.