Latinas Urged To Start their Own Businesses


Although Esther Novak is now a successful (and rich) business owner, she couldn’t speak English when she came to the U.S. from Lima, Peru at age 10. Fast forward 25 years later in 1994 at age 35, Novak founded her marketing and communications company, VanguardComm, catering to Fortune 500 companies and non-profits and supporting Latino access to mainstream brands.
“I found it important to learn English quickly and lost my accent quickly,” says Novak, who lived her childhood years in Brooklyn, N.Y. “What influenced me the most was when a kid asked me, ‘Where in Africa is Peru? I was a very nationalistic Peruvian, and I often had to draw a map for people.”
Novak, in an article at, said she drafted a culturally-specific business model serving the African-American, Asian and Hispanic markets. She said now is the time for Latinas to start their own business, in light of the rapidly growing Latino community in the U.S.
A Barnard College and Columbia University graduate who majored in literature, Novak credits her Peruvian roots as a major piece of her business sense. “The language, the value system, and the fact that it’s an under-served community and under-served market,she said.
Novak used her experience working for 11 years at AT&T, the National Endowment for the Arts, and starting a Hispanic arts program at Rutgers University to serve the Latino market. Learning as she went, Novak started VanguardComm out of her home, and later moved into an office in New York. As the company grew, she temporarily merged it with Ketchum, then went back to rebuilding it herself.