A New Rhythm
As a child, Ariel discovered American music through the cassette tapes his family in Miami mailed to his house in Cuba. He watched Michael Jackson and Madonna and became enraptured with their dancing, their fashion and the feeling of rebelliousness surrounding them. Growing up in a country where American music was frowned upon and essentially unavailable, Ariel found the taboo genre exhilarating, an ambitious curiosity that would transform into a passion and a career. “When you’re young, you wanted to do where you’re told you’re not supposed to do. We wanted to be a part of the world, of the trends at the time.”
Ariel began DJing as a teenager, gaining fame in Havana and later received his degree in sound engineering. His musical success grew with every new project, helping to pioneer the up and coming Cuban hip-hop movement along the way. Ariel found a sense of community in this movement, a connection to the music of young people seeking change. Despite his success, Ariel still felt limited by his surroundings. He moved to the United States where, inspired the sense of belonging he had discovered through music, he founded Asho Productions, an event production and DJ services company.
An Unexpected Hit
Ariel settled Asho Productions first in New York and later in Miami, where he knew the musicians he worked with would fit in well with the large Latino demographic. His business continued to thrive until 2017, when circumstances beyond his control left Ariel in crisis. Ariel had invested nearly all his savings into a show he was producing that was scheduled for October. In September, Hurricane Maria struck Florida, and ticket sales for Ariel’s show plummeted, pushing him into debt.
An Open Door
Fearing bankruptcy, Ariel needed financial support quickly. His banker at Chase Bank suggested Accion as an alternate lender who would be more flexible with his credit score. With his loan, Ariel was not only once again able to find a sense of financial security, but continue building his brand, including his website and social media presence, to attract more clients for future projects. The loan from Accion gave Ariel both a sense of relief and of recognition. “Accion understood my challenges. Before Accion, I was desperate. I was knocking on doors and no one was answering. When all other doors closed, Accion opened a door for me.”
Ariel recently received a second loan from Accion to help him weather the seasonal nature of the industry. “It allows me to have the capital ready to use when great opportunities come up.” Despite the obstacles he’s faced, Ariel’s ambition prevails. “I want to take risks and control my decisions. In owning this business, I own my ideas, my projects, and my time. It’s a sense of freedom, independence and empowerment.” Now, Ariel is helping to create the same kind of music once mailed to him in secrecy and the images on the screen he had idolized. He is finally not only part of the trends but paving the way for new ones.