Alejandra Bermejo Talks Business, Family, and Community
We're a long way from high school, which is where me and Alejandra Bermejo have a connection. Through the amazing, and powerful, source known as social media we were able to reconnect and work together to tell a story that I believe many young entrepreneurs can learn from.
24-year-old Dallas, Texas born, and Georgia raised Alejandra was faced with a huge challenge during her second year of college when her family's construction business took a turn for the worst.
We fell very low. We had lost everything. I had helped them before, but it never seemed like enough. I put my career on hold to take full control of the company. I had no idea how to, or where to begin but I knew I had to do something. it was overwhelming and exhausting. I did a lot of self-study to be able to pull us out of the hole we were in.
I used to be really embarrassed to say that I didn't finish nursing school, now I’m not ashamed of it anymore because it forced me to be better and realize that I can do so many things when I tell myself that I can. Now we have 6 different communities in 6 different counties and we work with one of the largest builders in Georgia.
With no training, Alejandra took over her family's company. I was curious to know how she was able to run a business she had no formal education on, and she had this to offer.
I learned everything I know from literally tons and tons of books that I checked out from the library. Setting up insurances is super difficult and dealing with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is even worse. Making a mistake could literally cost us thousands so it put me under a lot of stress for a really long time. Having a business is difficult, but once you make sure your business is compliant with insurances and permits it isn't so bad.
Not only did she have to break through educational challenges to work within the industry, Alejandra also had to work through the challenges she faced being a woman in a male dominated industry.
The most challenging part of doing this was earning the respect of the other contractors and the supervisors in each community. They would belittle me like crazy. They even got away with paying us the lowest wages per square foot for a long time. [It wasn't] until I took over did they raise our wages.
6 years later with Alejandra's superior leadership and determination, her family's construction company has made a complete turnaround. They are currently operating in all of south Georgia pouring foundation for one of the south's leading building companies. In addition to that, Alejandra has also used her magic touch to give another extension of her family's business a face lift. After taking over a studio lease for her mom, she was able to create a space that a small community in Hampton, Georgia could benefit from.
The work I’m doing at the studio is super fulfilling to me. I am a creative person so it gives me some creative liberty to design shirts and the set for our recital. It began as a nutrition club for my mom to sell Herbalife and dance Zumba but it wasn't going so well. We weren't able to make rent for like 3 months before I decided to turn it into a dance studio. The kids love it, its affordable to the community so we have a lot of kids. They love being there. It's become a safe space really because most of these children don't have any other activity to do and their mom's don't speak English.
I asked Alejandra how she will proceed moving forward, and her response remains true to her core values of putting first while remaining proactive as a business woman.
I want to buy some land and build a home for my parents to live in. I want my dad to be able to raise chickens and plant tomatoes. It’s his dream and I want them to be happy. It would give me a sense of peace knowing that they have everything. Once I finish the contract of the studio I would like to focus on construction and learn about the other trades. I’d like to be able to build a house from the ground up and make the business into specialty building. Maybe I might even build a community center and I would include things for everyone as a way to give back.
In closing she leaves us with a little advice that I think many Dangerous Women can benefit from!
Study up. Check out every book you can. They will be your biggest resource. Don't give up, don't let them intimidate you. Get angry. Be strong. Do everything by the book and always have a plan b.