By Jennifer Jimenez, co-owner of Eastside Total Health & Lactation.
Throughout my life, I always heard my mother's voice echoing: "Be your own boss." In the midst of the Cold War hysteria, my mother emigrated from the Philippines during a time when the fear of communism had virally taken over the American psyche, and coalesced into unconstitutional legislation that barred entry, and even the chance of citizenship to those seeking refuge in the "promised land." Sound familiar? The irony is uncanny, but now more than ever, her words that once seemed like an inaudible lullaby have so much meaning.
"Be your own boss," catalyzed me to start my own healthcare practice in Kirkland, WA. Eastside Total Health & Lactation (formerly Eastside Women's Health Center) was born in the fall of 2015 after joining forces with my business partner, Kristina Chamberlain, CNM, ARNP, IBCLC. After 25 years in New York and nearly twenty years of being a Certified Nurse-Midwife, I took those years of experience and started something exquisitely my OWN. The experience of providing care to individuals and families and impacting lives was certainly my calling. I gained precious insight during those years; no matter where one is from: the Bronx or Manhattan, inner city or the suburbs, people want to be heard, and good care lasts a lifetime. Experience within communities and the humbling lessons from colleagues and clients is the experience upon which I built my practice. It took two decades to fortify my foundation, but I knew right away that the only way I could best impact lives was to "Be my own boss."
It sounds crazy, but it was easier to manage a laboring woman in the back of an ambulance on "9/11" than start my own business. I was the Midwife on-call that night, and in the midst of all the chaos, I felt the enormous responsibility to guide this mother and her baby through this personally impactful moment amidst chaos and fear. I was the expert in that scenario; I felt confident, and had faith in my skills, knowledge and expertise. The spirit of my community was the intangible force that kept me focused and grounded. (And yes, a little girl named Jennifer was born that night.) The same tremendous fear of the unknown almost overwhelmed me when I moved to Washington State, 3,000 miles away from a place I called home. But just as I am the expert in my field, I knew I had to find a community of experts in business. Three days after my arrival in Washington, after a simple Google search, I was having lunch with one of the members of the GSBA.
As a proud member of the LGBTQ community and micro-business owner, I needed to find "my people”—and that is exactly what I found in the GSBA. I found an organization that not only represented who I am, but wanted to see me succeed. As a GSBA member, I had access to all the tools I needed to get started in business: training workshops, networking events, and my business even got certified as a LGBT Business Enterprise through the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) thanks to GSBA's help.
Little did I know that I found more than a business chamber—I joined the largest LGBT and allied chamber in the nation that truly embodies the four pillars of their work: business, community, advocacy and philanthropy.
Today, I am proud to say that my healthcare center is able to flourish and provide gynecological, family building, lactation, acupuncture, massage therapy, and nutrition services to diverse members of the Washington State community and beyond. We have launched a new nationwide service that certifies companies to be breastfeeding friendly, as well as, created access to lactation support to employees at the work site. Additionally, we started a series of training for healthcare providers across the country to aid in breastfeeding success.
BE YOUR OWN BOSS
can mean many different things to many different people.
Now, as a single mother, woman of color, micro-business owner in healthcare, in yet another abhorrent chapter in American history, I am confident that those who came before me, like my mother, Rosalinda, can see that my business is also my voice.