How An Immigrant, Venezuelan Media Company is Remaining Optimistic Throughout the Pandemic

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve created an interview series to feature inspiring Latinx entrepreneurs whose stories of determination represent our community’s unwavering drive to seguir adelante.

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Published: July 10, 2020

I met Ivette and Alfonso Lopez, the husband and wife duo, weeks into starting my role at the Latino Business Action Network (LBAN) in March 2016. They had recently moved from Venezuela and were working on building their video production company. It just so happened that we were also in the process of seeking a video production company for our kickoff and closing events of SLEI-ed (formerly known as SLELP). After our first “trial run,” they had not only demonstrated their immense talent in video production, but also had this innate ability to bring so much joy to the work we were doing. I loved their contagious energy, drive, and vision and knew we had to work together.

3 Lopez Media Inc. was founded by Ivette Carolina, Alfonso and Eliana Lopez (la hermana [sister] de Alfonso). The three had grown up between theaters, music studios, TV sets, and films. They developed their passion for storytelling on different platforms from radio to theater plays to video. They put their experience and artistic sensibility at the service of other Latino-owned businesses and organizations to help them connect emotionally with their audiences through storytelling and an integral approach.

That service was recently recognized at a national level when they were nominated for an Emmy Award in “Community and Public Service” for their work in changing the narrative of Latinos in the U.S. They accomplish this by showcasing stories of amazing Latino entrepreneurs across the country. (See their YouTube channel here).

Okay, random fun fact: Did you know that Ivette Carolina was an actress in Venezuela for a soap opera called “Torrente”? Mira, mira (look, look).

And Alfonso wrote a song for Oscar D’León! A renowned salsa singer from Venezuela (the writer and singer of Lloraras). Here is the link to Alfonso’s song, interpreted by Los Lazaros de la Salsa and Oscar D’León.

I have had the joy of watching their journey in the three years we worked together and now as friends, so I was eager to discuss how their business has been affected as this pandemic continues.

Interview date: May 22, 2020

Melody: “Tell me about business during COVID-19?”

Ivette Carolina: “We have been doing good, actually. Our business is not only about video and photography but we have been able to continue doing business because we do work remotely. The only work we can’t do remotely are the videos. All the pre-production to create the story, we still do online. The post-production as well, we can do that remotely.”

Alfonso: “From March 14, up until last week, we have been doing work since before shelter in place. So we have been keeping busy.”

Ivette Carolina: “Coming from Venezuela, we are familiar with uncertainty. We learned how to live in uncertainty for the future, so we are able to adjust as things continue to change.”

Melody: “I am happy to hear that business hasn’t been severely impacted. Is there anything that has changed drastically for positive or negative?”

Ivette Carolina: “It would have to be the way we do business with our clients now. We want to make sure that if we do business in person, we are keeping physical space and creating a run of show of our safety measures! Things we keep in mind are 1. How we do things when we arrive at the location 2. Hand sanitization 3. Gloves 4. Washing hands and 5. Masks.”

Alfonso: “Another thing that has changed drastically, that we find is positive, is the time we have to reflect. It takes time for the creative mind to brew ideas. We are constantly posing questions to ourselves like, ‘What do I want to share?’, ‘What are projects we want to do in the future?’ etc.

This time of pause has been important for us to think through projects and what our goals are for the rest of the year.”

Melody: “Me encanta q positivo son, siempre! Siempre con esa alegria y optimiso para el futuro. [I love how positive you two always are! Always with joy and optimism for the future]. Have you had to let go of any employees?”

Ivette Carolina: “We have been fortunate enough to have kept our team. We just keep the motivation going. We have also been fortunate enough to have kept all our accounts open, having the same, if not more!”

Melody: “You bring up a good point. How do you keep your motivation high with the team?”

Ivette Carolina: “We ask them questions like, ‘What can we do differently?’, ‘What would you like to learn?’ and constantly seeking to inspire them. We work very inclusively and focus on being a human-centered business. We take care of our clients and our team. Ultimately, if they grow, we grow.”

Melody: “I remember working with you, we always had so much fun producing those videos! How do you remain motivated as leaders?”

Alfonso: “Two things:

1) We read a lot. We know there is always opportunity to improve and change.

2) We share stories with one another and our team. We know that if our team loves what they do, and can see the impact they are making on the businesses we work with, it is a rewarding feeling that keeps them going.”

Melody: “What resources have you relied on during COVID?”

Ivette Carolina: “During the last two months [April and March 2020], a couple of clients who were mentors, have been important people we remain in contact with, Maria Marin and Miguel Galarza. We also have the SLEI-Ed network that provides information in terms of funding for small businesses.”

Melody: “What changes do you anticipate in your industry?”

Ivette Carolina: “This is a big industry and there are many things changing. However, in these last months we’ve been witnessing how resilient organizations can be, especially those whose work is focused on some kind of work with the community.

We believe that as we continue to move into a virtual space/remote work, major events will continue to rely on creating unique experiences through video production and storytelling. We have been working with organizations like the Latino Community Foundation for their annual Gala, the Stockton Scholars for their College Signing Day Event, the Latino Business Action Network for the graduation of the SLEI-ed Cohort 9 and now the LTX Fest 2020. And basically, we are helping them to pivot from their previously in-person events to virtual events while still offering the viewer a top-quality experience, not just a regular Zoom conference.

Melody: “What do you need help with now?”

Ivette Carolina: “We remain with the mantra from Jerry Porras, ‘Get business for one another and do business with one another.’ We want to continue working with businesses that want to share their story via media production.”

For Alfonso and Ivette, COVID-19 has posed roadblocks but nothing they haven’t already encountered from their experience in Venezuela. Their resilience in times of uncertainty is always evident in every conversation we have. They have their heart on their shoulders and lead their business with compassion, empathy and grand smiles.

Learn more about Ivette Carolina and Alfonso Lopez and their video production/photography/web design business by visiting their website and social channels (Facebook and Instagram). If you are able to offer support or would like to contribute to the success of their business, feel free to ping me, and I can make an intro.

If you’d like to support 3lopez and more exceptional entrepreneurs like them during the pandemic, spread the word about this series and share this article with family and friends on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Email.

We want to hear what you think about this article or refer any entrepreneurs for this series. Send your responses to melodyestrada1@gmail.com.

Edited by: Jessica Salinas

Amplifying Diverse Founders | Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (former) | App Store Marketing (former) | CubaRican | SJSU Alumni