For recognizing that cultural translation is as important as the linguistic kind
When Elisabete Miranda immigrated to the United States from Brazil in 1994, she learned how a life's experience can get lost in translation. In Brazil, she'd been a respected serial entrepreneur and vice president of her local chamber of commerce. In the U.S., she felt like one more Latin American woman who didn't speak the language. "When you move to another country, it's like you become a stupid person," she says with a laugh, recalling her first days in the States. "You have to suck it up and do what you need to do."
What Miranda needed to do, she believed, wasn't just to learn English, but also to turn translation into a business. She teamed up with her sister-in-law, Edna Ditaranto, a professional translator, who at the time was doing freelance work translating Portuguese for American companies. Miranda started out at the company first serving as a proofreader for Ditaranto's work, then as her bookkeeper--and eventually, as Miranda applied more of her hard-won business acumen to her in-law's business, as the little company's CEO.
"As her bookkeeper, I knew she didn't have money to pay me," says Miranda. "I thought, I better make this company grow somehow so I can get paid!"
Today the company, CQ Fluency, focuses on health care--for instance, translating treatment plans and other documents aimed at non-English-speaking patients for customers that include life science companies and hospitals.
Now, as CQ Fluency oversees projects in 150 languages, Miranda's clients understand her, loud and clear. Her advice for other entrepreneurs: "To stand out, you have to specialize," she says. "Being one more mediocrity doesn't help anyone." –Burt Helm
For seeing the huge potential in a category -- granola -- that seemed to be played out
The Urban Grape
For advocating for a more progressive, inclusive, and accessible wine industry
The Urban Grape, in Boston’s South End, set out to be more than just another wine store. “Our mantra is really to build community through wine,” says Hadley Douglas, who quit her job to start the business in 2010 with her husband, TJ, a restaurant-industry veteran and one of the few Black people in Boston’s wine scene. While wine stores usually arrange bottles by region or varietal, The Urban Grape uses a less-intimidating “progressive shelving,” which places red and white wines on a scale from one to 10, representing light- to full-bodied wines.
The business has grown steadily for a decade, reached $4 million in sales, and has never had a down year, according to Douglas. The Urban Grape got a headstart on e-commerce last year, creating an online shop from scratch with a built-in customer service function. This personalized approach has helped maintain customer loyalty during the pandemic, Douglas says--and allowed the store to keep its sales in-house instead of paying for a service like Drizly. The Urban Grape has successfully moved its wine-tasting events business online, too, says Douglas. And when the store was vandalized in June during Black Lives Matter protests, the Douglases used the attention to raise money for a new fund that launched this fall: a wine-studies award and internship program to help students of color break into the industry. – Sophie Downes