Today we’d like to introduce you to Theresa Garcia.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Theresa. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
At the age of 15, I was single, homeless and pregnant. I got my first job one week after I found out I was pregnant and by the time my son was born, I had my own apartment. I worked 1 to 3 jobs simultaneously while finishing high school and then put myself through college. I had no family support or guidance, so I had to teach myself everything. I completely bombed my first interview after college! I told some friends what happened afterwards, and when they were done laughing at me (for what felt like a long time!) they gave me a few pointers. I felt so lost, but eventually, I landed a job. I started off in BDC sales and within a month, I was outselling my boss. The next month I was promoted to manager. I later moved on to manage the business development center for a luxury car dealership. It was great money and the people I worked for and with were awesome, but I did not enjoy my job at all.
When I first moved to Colorado, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I joined a networking group with the mindset of “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. During the networking meeting, I overheard about schools requiring special needs kids to work as part of a transition program. This didn’t sound bad at first until I was told that the schools got paid for their work, but the kids didn’t! In addition, I learned about 14c corporations located throughout the country. 14c corporations pay neuro-diverse individuals less than minimum wage—some pay as low as two cents per hour! To this day, we have five 14c corporations in Colorado. I was outraged!
These issues are particularly important to me for several reasons. Primarily, I was raised with the belief that we are all created equal and this information sounded extremely unjust. Secondly, I have a son who has Cri Du Chat syndrome, he was just about to enter High School and the thought that he could someday have to deal with this kind of discrimination infuriated me!
I started working in the Supported Employment field as a Job Coach. On my own time, I taught myself everything I know about the business. After two weeks of employment in the new position, I became the Director of the department. Within a month, I had redesigned the department and it’s increased effectiveness was noted by a counselor from the State of Colorado’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). Business was booming! Because we were so effective at helping our clients reach their employment goals, the one-woman department expanded to a 5-person department. While I loved the work, the office environment was not healthy for me. Within a few short months, I knew my time with that business needed to end. I informed one of the counselors at DVR that I would be giving the company my two weeks’ notice and she asked if I would consider becoming a supported employment vendor for myself. She basically said that I was the best provider she had worked within the Springs and that statement gave me the confidence to start my own business.
It was a slow start; it took months for me to get approved to become a vendor. Once approved, I hit the ground running! I am in a unique field. There isn’t any marketing because we serve a vulnerable population. DVR counselors give the clients a list of vendors and talk a little about their track record, then the clients interview us vendors and choose who they want to work with. I went from 1 client to 30 rather quickly. Many of my clients are employed within 60 days.
In my business, I bring as much positivity as I can! We incorporate as much self-care homework as the client accepts to ensure that once the job goal is achieved, they know how to reduce stress intuitively. We incorporate proven techniques like HeartMath that can be used anywhere, anytime. Sure, we have setbacks but no matter what happens in life, you can take it as a lesson or a blessing. There is nothing more fulfilling than providing the support I wish I had growing up.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The waiting game to be approved as a vendor was rough. I’ve had my growing pains as a new business owner with trying to find the right staff for my company. I’ve definitely learned some lessons in character judgement. At the same time, every challenge has been an opportunity for growth that gave me the chance to become stronger.
Please tell us about Rubi’s Positive Empowerment.
We help individuals with disabilities gain and maintain employment. We help them learn how to make their resumes stand out, how to prepare for an interview and teach soft skills to help them maintain their employment. We then offer job coaching which helps them learn their new role while creating natural supports so that they can do their job independently. For local businesses, we offer recruiting, training and retention services at no cost to them. We partner with Colorado’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation to provide these services at no cost to the partnering business.
While our services may not be anything new, the way we approach them is unique. We have a holistic approach with a heavy focus on mindset. Anxiety is by far the most common perceived barrier in our field. So, we help our clients to reframe their experiences and setbacks in a way that opens them up to gratitude and growth. From job development to job coaching, we use proven techniques like Heart Math, which has been proven to reduce anxiety by about 60% while increasing intuition and positive emotions. The most rewarding aspect is when we see someone transform from primarily seeing and speaking about barriers to becoming a person that sees their value as an active participant in their community—a community full of opportunities.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would have done an emergency back up plan. I wasn’t planning on hiring employees until the next year but due to a car accident, all of my plans changed quickly.
- Address: 444 E. Pikes Peak Ave. Suite 210A
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
- Phone: 7192358777
- Email: Theresa@rubis.rocks
- Facebook: fb.me/rubispe