Photo by John Goldy
Q: How would you describe your week at the RNC?
A: It was an exhausting whirlwind week, thousands of people, thousands of police, thousands of reporters, and I was in the middle of it — literally. My company was chosen out of hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime national convention. To be a representative in this historical event, in my hometown, made it so much sweeter.
Q: Do you think visitors left town with a positive impression of Cleveland?
A: Absolutely. The delegates that I had the pleasure of meeting and media all had a very good impression of the city. It truly is the best-kept secret. We call it “Believeland” for a reason. We are a “can do” city and take great pride in it. Between the architecture, museums, and all the many cultural diversities, it’s easy for anyone to call Cleveland home. And us residents did our best to show off the Cleveland pride we all had during the RNC. The thousands of delegates, reporters, and protesters all got a firsthand look and really liked what they saw.
A: I did pretty well, and with the help of the media attention that I was fortunate enough to receive, I was able to interview with reporters from as far north as Toronto all the way down to Miami. I only wish my Spanish would have been better so they didn’t have to dub over my English (it looked like a bad karate movie). These interviews created quite a lot of web orders.
Q: What went into creating this altogether unique watch?
A: When I heard that the City of Cleveland was chosen to host the 2016 RNC convention, my watch company was in its infancy. I thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase my local company on a national stage. I originally designed a prototype watch using the Elephant logo. While spending countless hours researching and gathering information on past conventions, vendors, and souvenir items that have been manufactured in the past, I knew this would be the perfect place for my brand. Upon the release of the official logo, I redesigned the prototype watch, did everything in my power to find the right people to talk to to become a vendor in the event, and with a lot of phone calls, emails, and relentless perseverance, I was named the official logo watch of the 2016 RNC.
Q: You attended the post-RNC thank-you party. What was the general consensus of participants like you in regard to the success of the convention?
A: Everyone was happy and thankful it was a peaceful week considering the protesting and number of people in a small area of our city. People were able to get to and from the convention with little issues. They were glad our city was highlighted in such a great way.
Q: What led you to become a female entrepreneur?
After retiring from the police department, I wanted to take my jewelry-making hobby to the next level and turn it into a business since I could now make it my main focus.
Q: What individuals and organizations have helped you along the way?
I learned of many local resources in a business class at the HBA (Hispanic Business Association), which led me to find the BGV (Bad Girls Ventures), where I attended a nine-week business course. They are an educational micro-finance nonprofit organization that inspires and supports female entrepreneurs. I was given a business advisor, Bill Gorton. Without these groups I would not have gotten this far in my business goals.
Q: Why a watch company?
A: While on the police department I designed and sold police-themed jewelry to coworkers’ friends and family. I designed badge pendants, rings, and handcuff key-themed items that can be found on cuffnstuff.com. Being that I’m a huge watch collector, designing them has always been something I had wanted to pursue. I wanted to have a customizable, affordable watch that could be used to fundraise, highlighting the work of local Cleveland artists.
Q: Did you enjoy being a police officer?
A: I enjoyed the camaraderie. Law enforcement is a unique profession. Working as a cop gives you a sense of belonging and family you won’t find in any other profession. I made some of my best friends on the job, and learned skills and verbal techniques that have helped me grow as a business owner today.
Q: Why did you leave the force?
A: I retired after 25 years of service to the Cleveland Police Department, the last 13 of those years I was a trainer in the Physical Fitness unit in the Cleveland Police Academy. Ultimately I ended my career after receiving my fourth knee surgery. Twenty-five years is the minimum required years to retire from the police department. I was glad to have been able to serve my full tour of duty, and very happy to start my new chapter.
Q: What can you tell us about the Sea of Blue organization?
A: The Sea of Blue was started in December of 2014 by my friends Mary Jo Graves and Megan Connelly. It stemmed from a conversation about the current climate of police and civilian relations. We decided to have our own little rally. Five days later we had over 5,500 people in Public Square to hold a peaceful silent rally to show our support for the department here in Cleveland and worldwide. Since the rally, we started a nonprofit, for which I am a board member. We are still continuing to pass the message of peace, unity, and togetherness as we have earned the respect of thousands in a short period. While hoping to change the minds of a few, we earned the respect of a nation.
Q: What’s Next?
A: To keep the momentum rolling, I have several Cleveland businesses that I plan to collaborate with and expand my personal line of watches. I would like to attract sponsors and work with local teams and attractions in the Cleveland area.