Delilah Martinez: A Boss Woman Chronicled
At 20 years old, Delilah Martinez had what many would consider a dream job. She was working at a hip hop radio station in San Diego. She also had no idea what she needed to do with her life in order to feel fulfilled.
Fast forward to today. Delilah owns Vault Gallerie in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. She is also the owner of another studio in Pilsen called VIP Paints where she hosts sip-and-paints, candle making and other unique workshops with guest artists. She is a mentor, leader, and curator. And she’s honest. Through her Boss Woman Chronicles (@bosswomanchronicles) Instagram, she takes her experience from broadcast journalist and candidly discusses what it means to be an entrepreneur, especially as a woman of minority descent.
“Between age 18 to even 29 I was in this gap of, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know who I am. I’m moving city to city. I really didn’t know who I was in the moment until like 30.”
The path to discovery started when Delilah began taking art classes in her late 20s. Meant to be a moment of self-reflection and separation, this change in pace led her to remember how much she loved art. From San Diego she moved to Dallas, and from Dallas back to Chicago. With enough savings to cover a couple months rent, Delilah began VIP Paints in her tiny apartment offering sip-and-paint classes to her family and friends. The business quickly outgrew the tiny space and the landlord asked her to stop hosting painting classes.
Though it wasn’t easy, Delilah eventually found a storefront in Pilsen, just steps away from where her father grew up. Because the feeling of community and everything it symbolizes is important for Delilah, she became a part of Pilsen community.
The sip-and-paint quickly evolved and Delilah then opened up her second business, Vault Gallerie. The same feeling of wanting to support the community inspired her to hang up original pieces from Chicago artists on the walls. Her criteria for welcoming artists? She has to care about their story. Her unique outlook merges the artist and their art in a way that untrained eyes may not. She loves supporting women, but is conscious to not leave the guys out.
“The time for women is now as we get more leadership roles. If you don’t empower or support us women move out of our way”
Furthermore, she’s interested in people’s struggles. When she was 12 years old, her father was in a car accident that left him with a lifelong injury. When she’s not running her enterprise, Delilah takes care of her dad.
“There are weights you have to lift to be stronger in life. And that’s the reason why people are so unique and great and why they stand out. My story and my hardships are the weights I had to lift and a big fuel to my fire. I’m unique and want to show that my path is what made me become all of this.”
When you meet Delilah for the first time you are greeted with incredibly positive and welcoming energy that warmly radiates throughout whatever space she is occupying. Yet she reflects on times she cries before events. “No one know that I’m in my car bawling my eyes out, having a heart attack before stepping into this event.” This rawness, though, makes her who she is. “It’s not easy. You have to work hard.”
In her six years of being an entrepreneur, Delilah also learned that importance of who you surround yourself with.
“I’ve lost friendships and relationships because it’s rare that someone understands my level of ambition or entrepreneur lifestyle. The key is to surround yourself with like minded individuals, people who want to succeed and are just as ambitious as you. When someone has goals to meet and are they confident in life they don’t have time to slow you down. Nor will they be mad at you because you can’t make it to dinner last minute or you have to leave”
The lesson, though important, is hard. Her lifestyle is oftentimes accompanied by damaging effects on her family-ships, friendships, and relationships. For her, it meant realizing that some things she wanted from life will have to wait, and that’s okay.
“We need to encourage women to be young when they’re young. To work on being confident and become leaders. Not to rush into what our society thinks women should be. That beauty should be defined by our legacy. Not that our goal should only be to become a mother and a wife. That’s not all we are supposed to be.”
HOW ENTREPRENEURS CAN EMPOWER OTHERS:
1. Shop locally. Support your community.
2. Give chances.
3. Tag them in social media, share why you like their product.
4. Be kind. Understand that these small business owners are entrepreneurs, and they may be going through a tough time.
5. Don’t be afraid to give feedback.