Migrant mother finds a source of inspiration in flowers

For Yesenia Cortes, a single mother of two, having her own flower business was a far-off, almost impossible dream, but when some friends convinced her to go see a flower shop that was going to be transferred in Pacoima, a neighborhood in the Valle from San Fernando in Los Angeles, went to visit the place out of pure curiosity.

“It was God's will that I stay with the place. The owner liked me. She told me that she trusted me and that she was paying little by little. She transferred it to me with the refrigerators, with a low rent, they did not ask me for a deposit ”.

Almost 6 months after opening her first business selling flowers, Yesenia says that it has been hard, but she is strengthened with the support of Latinas in Designa group of small Latina businesswomen from the San Fernando Valley who support each other.

“I talk to my flowers. I ask them to put their best face on the client and her best smile, and I tell them that they better endure a week in the house where they are going. Get pretty to be flattered, I tell them.

Yesenia Cortes is the owner of YesMia Flowers. (Araceli Martinez/La Opinión)

Yesenia also has valuable support, that of her two sons, Luis A. Sánchez and Anthony D. Sánchez.

“My eldest son, who is 26 years old, is my support; My son under the age of 20 is my baby. I am super proud of them. My youngest son goes to the Navy, and he says that I am his hero. My oldest son trained to be a firefighter, but he wasn't admitted because it was DACA. He works in a company that makes windings ”.

Yesenia Cortez emigrated from her native Puebla, Mexico in 1998, after being widowed and losing the father of her eldest child.

“I left my son in Puebla when he was 1 year old, and I was able to bring him to the United States when he was 7 years old.”

In Los Angeles Yesenia became a mother for the second time when her son Anthony was born.

“I worked 14 years in sewing. Then I sold dishes and glassware by catalog”.

Yesenia came across the flowers when she started working at a famous flower shop in Glendale, California where she had been hired to clean the premises and the flowers.

“But on one occasion when the owner was hospitalized, I was given the opportunity to make arrangements based on photographs. They just didn't look like the pictures. I made them to my liking. And it turned out that when people went to the flower shop, they asked for the arrangements that I had made, not the ones that were in the photographs as samples of the business.

This is how Yesenia entered the world of flowers until the owners of the flower shop closed it and moved to Fresno. "They invited me to go work with them in Fresno, but my children didn't want to leave Los Angeles, and we stayed here."

Yesenia Cortes with her sons Anthony and Luis. (Courtesy)

For a few years, during the strong flower season, Yesenia would travel to Fresno to work with her former employers for a few weeks.

But she started selling simple flower arrangements on the street, outside her house and in the so-called swap meets (open-air markets), and on many occasions, necessity forced her to go to the Central Valley to sell flowers.

“He also made flower arrangements for events. Some friends began to tell me that she was very creative, that she put my business ”.

On November 20, 2022, Yesenia opened her flower shop in Pacoima, which she called YesMia.

“Yes by Yesenia my name; and mine, because I also make bows for girls' hair, and when I found a girl wearing them, I would say, “it's mine, I did it. Mine because the arrangements are mine. I take them from the heart, I don't copy them”.

So she thought that if one day she had a business, she would name it YesMía.

For this mother, flowers are part of her life, but above all a therapy.

“When I'm sad, he bought me a bunch of flowers, when I'm sick, he bought me a bunch of flowers, and when I'm happy, he bought me flowers. Contemplating the flowers makes me fall in love.

And he adds that flowers are life, "give a flower and you will get a smile from the heart."

Remember when you were wondering if it would be a good idea to commit to an established business. “I talked to my children. My youngest son asked me if he had money to invest. I told him that he only had $3,000 in the bank, but that was all he needed to start buying flowers.”

Yesenia saw the opportunity to open her flower shop and tried, and continues to try.

"I am the one who sweeps, buys the flower, cleans it, makes the arrangements and takes them to deliver."

For this Mother's Day, she says that her two children are going to help her at the flower shop because they expect a lot of work.

“My son, who is in the Navy, is coming over this weekend. So I think we are going to celebrate Mother's Day until Monday, May 15. Although I am from Puebla, my favorite food is Oaxacan, especially tlayudas. I hope we go to Oaxacan food."

The dream of this hard-working mother is to succeed with her flower shop. "I would love for everyone to know Yesenia's flowers, and give employment to other people."

Yesenia Cortes creates bows for girls' hair. (Araceli Martinez/La Opinión)

Despite the fact that business is slow and he has not had the result he wanted, he has a lot of faith that YesMia Flowers flourish.

“When I see a woman who is depressed because her husband left or cheated on her, or that they live with him, but they are mistreated, I tell them that they can get ahead with their children. I am an example. God never leaves us and he does not abandon single mothers who, like me, struggle every day.”

You can find YesMia at 11408 Herrick avenue in Pacoima, California; and you can place orders at 323-329-6029.

You can also find her on social networks at: Instagram, yesmia_flowers; and on Facebook as YesMía.

“I have flower arrangements for all occasions, and I make them according to the taste of the people”, says Yesenia.

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Nathan Rivera
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