Hi Daniela, you are Flamigas´ lead model and we would like to introduce you to our customers and followers since they see beautiful photos of you all the time. Let us get to know you better and tell us about your life!
How did you first meet Flamigas founders Aline and Sandra?
It was about 5 years ago, when I was still doing my Bachelors in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, where I was born and raised. I was already planning to move to Germany and was thinking about an exchange semester or something similar. This is why I started my first German course and both Aline and Sandra were working in the Casa Cultural Colombo Alemana, the German school in Cartagena. Sandra was my teacher and she basically taught me my first German words. She went back to Germany and after a while we lost contact. About 4 years later, I applied for my Masters in Germany and was accepted by TU Munich. I posted my plans on Facebook and Sandra saw it. Once I moved to Germany both Aline and Sandra helped me a lot during my first weeks and challenges here. It was such a coincidence, I would have never thought I would see them again!
What makes you most proud to be Colombian?
That’s a tough question! Of course, we have amazing landscapes, mountains, rivers, the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean islands, jungle and so on – but what makes Colombia really special is the people! It is remarkable, how warm we are with each other, how much we strive to help each other, even though we don’t know the person next to us. We have a kindness and a will of helping each other and seeing life in a positive way that is incomparable. I think this is the biggest legacy our culture passes to everybody who visits Colombia: the happiness, the positivism and the interest for each other. We know that we are not a society that has had an easy growth, we have been through a lot of corruption, violence and problems with drugs and we are still not over it. But most importantly, people stay hopeful, and are always trying to see the bright side of life. Maybe this isn’t even such a positive thing: If we were a little bit more negative, we maybe would be able to do more about our country’s current situation? But if there is something I know for sure, it is that a Colombian would always be positive in any situation and that makes me incredibly proud of my country.
In your opinion, why is it so important to support women in Latin-American countries?
Women should be supported anywhere in the world where our rights are threatened. We still live in a sexist society. There are a lot of things that are expected from girls, you are supposed to fit in certain standards everywhere. We should support every woman that feels not important enough. I think there is a lot of female talent in Latin-American, but women often put themselves behind their men because they don’t think they can't reach and do as much as men can. But this is not just a Latin-American women problem, it’s a global one.
What would be the most effective change for Latin-American women?
There are two things:
1. Empowerment - Women need to be empowered throughout all countries; they need to believe in themselves. By hard work they can achieve whatever they want.
2. Number two is crucial - it’s education. A person who believes in her- or himself can pursue dreams. Education is lacking throughout Latinamerica, especially in the indigenous societies. Women without education cannot pursue existing opportunities, because they don’t even know about them. They have no clue what is out there in the world to explore. We need a government that is more focused on helping people and qualifying them to make the most out of themselves. We in Colombia could make a whole business out of avocados, coconuts, mangos and also of all these beautiful handcrafted things we produce. But what we need is people who see opportunities and believe in themselves. Flamigas starts there by making a difference and supporting women in Latinamerica. They help to make their products visible around the world.
What brought you to Germany? Let us take part in your journey?
This has a lot to do with how I was raised. Education basically brought me to Germany. I wanted to have the best education that I could, for free. I don’t have rich parents who could pay for expensive universities and I also didn’t want them to have any expenses for me. I wanted to be able to finance my life independently. So I was looking for rankings of universities and checked which was the best university for computer science. That’s how I found TU Munich. Now I am almost finishing my Master's degree. I don’t plan to stay in Germany forever, but I want to acquire the tools to be able to live a comfortable life without the need of a man who pays for my bills. My mom always taught me that I needed to be an independent woman, no matter if I was single or married.
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
The one that has the deepest impact on my life is one my mother gave me. Ever since I was little, she taught me to fight for myself and stand up for myself, to not wait or expect anyone to do anything for me. And this is something that has a tremendous effect on everything I do in my life, it affects everything. If I don’t expect anybody to do anything for me, that means that I need to be able to do everything on my own. I need education and strength - mentally as well as physically. I am always telling myself “You are able to do anything! If there ever comes a difficult moment, you are able to overcome it by yourself”. This gives me a lot of strength and it helps me taking decisions. I don't have to be scared of not being able to reach or do something. Even if things don’t work out, I know that I will recover. This the best advice I have been given: Believe in yourself, stand up for yourself, maybe one day you will need it.
Who are your biggest influencers? Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
Definitely my parents. Although they are separated since I was young and I actually never lived with my father, they both taught me important lessons. My mother is a relentless human being who taught me about discipline, and my father is a hard-working entrepreneur who taught me about sacrifice. He used to tell me that the most important things you can only learn at the “University of life”. My mother on the other hand, has always been physically active and made sure that I was involved in sports since I was 4.
I think that this combination between sports and my dad’s entrepreneurial mindset were crucial for the way I think and what I am nowadays. I grew up being mentally and physically strong, there was no alternative. For some, this might sound a bit harsh, but in my opinion, life will always bring us tough situations, and it's better to be strong and not needing it than needing to be strong and not being strong. Any outcome is directly dependent on the effort that you put in, you are not becoming a world champion without efforts, just because you want to. Everybody has and should work hard for it.
What’s next for you?
I know that my answer to this question might disappoint some people. I will finish my Master and stay for one more year to gain some working experience in Germany. But then I will go back to Colombia. My scholarship requires me to go back to my country to invest all I have learnt at home. I also want to go back to Colombia, because that’s where my heart is. I definitely love Germany, it already feels like a second home for me. I grew up a lot and I have learnt so many things here. I really feel like an adult now. My objective is to inspire people to believe in themselves, although most of them ask me why I want to go back to this place where corruption and violence is daily life. But I want to make a difference for my country, because I love it so much. I will go back and work there and be with my family. And after that, I don’t know, I am not planning as much as I used to any more, I am living my life and let my life surprise me.
We wish you only the best on your journey, wherever it may lead you. Thank you for being our friend and lead model and for inspiring us and many other women. Please stay just as you are!