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CSUN Student Starts Business to Help Her Family During the COVID-19 Pandemic

LOS ANGELES - Carmen Diaz is a 19-year-old student and entrepreneur who operates two online businesses from her home. At the start of the pandemic, her family struggled financially. With overdue bills piling up, Diaz decided to hone her sewing skills and created SewWhatCarmen, an online mask and hair tie business along with another business selling Enchilate Chili Candy.

Photo, Liseth Ceja

At the start of the pandemic, Diaz and her family were forced to close their catering business. The Diaz family lost their regular income and depended only on savings. With money running short and Diaz’s mom close to giving birth to her second child, Diaz decided she would make and sell face masks to help bring in income.

“I sold at least 45 masks in the first month,” Diaz said.

Diaz sells each face mask for seven dollars and stretchy hair ties for five dollars apiece.

According to the Washington Post, party caterers are struggling even more than restaurants to change their business plan. The trays that would hold cookies for office cocktail parties and corporate shindigs and even wintry weddings stayed stashed away as the industry cratered. People noshing together was made moot by the pandemic, and likely to stay that way until the wide distribution of a vaccine.

Between being a full-time student and operating her business Diaz would stay up until six in the morning to fulfill orders at times.

“It was hard times. I felt like I had my family’s financial future in my hands — plus having to deal with my upper division courses was hard,” Diaz said.

Diaz’s mom Lucia said she is very proud of her daughter.

“I cannot tell you how proud I am of her. She truly is the most hard working and creative person I know,” Lucia said.

Feeling motivated, Diaz decided to start a second online business making and selling chili candy.

Carmen Enchilate Candy was an automatic boom! She is selling Enchilate Candy to customers all over the U.S.

When she was only ten years old, Diaz and her mom came to the U.S in search of a better life.

“We were never this good. All you see, where we live, is all new. When I first got here with my mom, we lived in the corner of a living room in her friend’s family’s home.”

The Diaz family has come a long way and does not plan on stopping.

“I will hustle forever to make sure my family is taken care of,” Diaz said.

And in that spirit she already has another business idea in mind.

She said, “I am really talented and have lots of hobbies but I’m thinking of something to do with clay.”

Diaz plans to start working on her clay business as soon as possible.

No matter how tough the circumstances, she will continue to be part of her family's support.

Video, Matter of Fact

Video, Liseth Ceja

By Liseth Ceja

With contributions from The Washington Post.

Video, Liseth Ceja

Video, Matter of Fact

Photo, Liseth Ceja


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