Corina Jimenez Finds Opportunity in Uncertainy

Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary

Corina was working as a graphic designer in Venezuela when she suddenly became sick. Told by doctors to stop eating sugar and dairy, Corina was forced to change her diet, as well as her daily habits. “I paused my life and started to analyze what I should be eating. I started to look for alternative desserts that met the needs of my new diet and I found that there were few.” In response, Corina founded Vegallia, an online and wholesale shop offering dairy and gluten-free ice cream with creative and original recipes. “I wanted to make an ordinary dessert into an extraordinary experience.”

 

Rethinking the Future

As her business’s popularity increased, Corina moved to Miami in 2015 and opened a new production center in 2016. Even in a new city, her business quickly proved to be a success. However, in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed Corina’s life completely. With the closing of restaurants and cafes, businesses that constituted most of Corina’s clients, her sales plummeted and rendered her current business structure unsustainable. “The biggest challenge now is changing my business model.” Fortunately, Corina had the support to do this from a $10,000 business grant she received from winning the 2019 Samuel Adams pitch room competition. The pitch room is part of the Brewing the American Dream Program – a partnership between Samuel Adams and Accion that provides capital and coaching to small business owners in the food and beverage industry. “With the grant, I can build my online platform to continue selling my product. Without that investment, I couldn’t do anything right now.”

 

Corina also received a loan deferment from Accion, who she had previously turned to for financial support during Hurricane Irma in 2017. “Accion has always been there for me, even during the most difficult times. They understand the challenges I’m facing right now. The loan deferment has helped me a lot because I need this time to find new clients. It’s so important to have this help right now because it’s a moment where I really need it.”

 

Unlocking New Potential

Despite the uncertainty she faces, Corina continues to uphold her business mission to offer an unforgettable product to customers. “In the long run, I have a great product that I can offer with a lot of potential.” No stranger to unprecedented challenges, Corina also maintains a sense of optimism for her business and for her community. “There are a lot of challenges but I’m also seeing a lot of opportunities. It has changed the lives of everyone in our community, but we are going to finish this stronger than before with better values and more knowledge. Even though today isn’t good, I feel positive about the future.”