Jenny Gutierrez came to Louisville five years ago after dangerous circumstances in her native country of Venezuela compelled her to bring her daughter to the United States. Since then, she has attained U.S. citizenship, purchased her first home, and started her own graphic design company, JD Creative.
Jenny worked successfully in graphic design and advertising in Venezuela, but ultimately had to leave to protect herself and her daughter. One day, as Jenny left work, she was pulled into a car and driven to a bank, where the kidnappers stole her money. “It was a horrible experience,” Jenny said. She no longer felt safe raising her daughter with the constant threat of violence hanging over their heads: “I said ‘bye-bye’ to Venezuela.”
Jenny brought her daughter to U.S., and was drawn to Louisville because her cousin lives here. “Normally, immigrants find their family,” Jenny explained. While it was helpful to have a family member in the community, acclimating to a new life in Louisville with her young daughter was daunting at first. “It was very lonely,” Jenny recalled, largely due to the initial language barrier.
Jenny found support at Americana, where she participated in English classes and family education classes, and received guidance and legal counsel to help her achieve her goals, including becoming a U.S. citizen and owning a home.
Jenny quickly came to embrace her new home. “I love it here,” Jenny said. She enjoys meeting new people, and especially likes the Kentucky Derby. “Oh my goodness, the hats!” Jenny exclaimed. She’s also taken a liking to Kentucky’s wine and bourbon culture—but “not for drinking! I don’t like drinking it; I like going to the vineyards and the distilleries. I love it!”
Now that she is a naturalized citizen, Jenny has adopted her brother, who lives with her and her daughter. “I needed my citizenship quickly for my little brother,” Jenny said. Her brother requires medical treatments which are difficult to access in Venezuela. “I talked with my mom, and he came to the United States to live with me.” Jenny recently completed the adoption process, and says that her brother is doing well. “He is an excellent student,” Jenny said proudly.
Jenny spends much of her time working at her graphic design company, JD Creative. She primarily designs logos and advertisements for Spanish-speaking business owners who would normally have difficulty communicating their needs and ideas to designers who do not speak Spanish. “Normally [Spanish-speaking businesses] here don’t have a logo—only a name,” Jenny said. For example, she helped one of her friends spread the word about his dentistry practice which previously had little public exposure among Hispanics. Jenny serves over 150 clients in three states, and gains most of her clientele by knocking on doors and talking to business owners face-to-face.
In addition to advertising, JD Creative sells custom-made gifts, like watches and drinkware, as well as fashion accessories, apparel, and wall decorations. Jenny recently started hosting painting classes too, and hopes to use them to bridge cultural divides. “I want to work with both Spanish and English [speakers].”
Jenny enjoys owning her own business and would not have it any other way. “I don’t like [having a] boss,” Jenny said, laughing. She is a natural entrepreneur, and loves thinking of new ways to expand her business and innovating new products and services. “Sleep, Jenny!” she implores herself regularly, making sure to take breaks from her nearly constant brainstorming.
Jenny works long hours—often six days a week—and she attributes her resolute motivation to her desire to provide for her kids. Jenny’s goal is to grow her company so she that can hire employees and spend less time working. “This is my project: time for my kids,” Jenny declared. “I’m a single mother…but I want time, because I want a quality life for my kids. First it’s my kids, then it’s me.”