Hipatia Lopez is one of the less than 1% of Latinas who hold a patent in the United States. “Empanada Fork“, an idea that came from the need to speed up the production process of empanadas in her household during a Thanksgiving dinner, is now a patented reality and has launched Hipatia into the world of entrepreneurship. As the CEO and Inventor of Empanada Fork, she believes in herself and in the usefulness of her product and through determination she will continue sharing her invention with the world. Read on for her story.
NENANI: You are an inventor and entrepreneur. How did you prepare for it, both in education and prior experience?
Hipatia: My Ecuadorian parents made education in my household #1. I always worked hard and set goals for myself. I went to college by earning a full ride scholarship to William Paterson University where I obtained a degree in Accounting. I worked in public accounting for 6 years. This allowed me to work with many different types of business’s. Ever since I was a child, I always wanted to be a boss. The entrepreneur spirit was in me for a very long time and it was only a matter of time for me to pursue my dream. Being an inventor happened out of necessity to make something easier and faster.
NENANI: What makes you proud of the work you do?
Hipatia: I am a very proud small business owner. It took courage for me to keep pursuing my invention. The journey is a long and bumpy road but with each bump – I learned something new. The more knowledge you have – the more you’re worth.
NENANI: What is your passion?
Hipatia: My passion is letting the world know of my invention and at the same time hoping to inspire other Latina women to start inventing because it is possible.
NENANI: Can you describe how your invention was created?
Hipatia: My husband Henry is Dominican and is the cook in our family, we have 3 children. I had an idea during the Thanksgiving holiday season while my family and I were preparing the holiday menu in my household. We were making 100 empanadas and naturally I was the “closer”, which I did not like because it took forever and my hand started to hurt. I stopped and thought, “I wonder if there is a utensil I can use to close them?” So I started to do some research and had the idea on my mind 24 hours a day.
When I told my family what I wanted to do – they said “Go for it!” so I started to contact lawyers and realized I was on a road to something great. This journey, which started off with an idea that seemed crazy to me at first, has helped me grow as an individual and I feel grateful for this opportunity. I realize now that it is okay to take chances in life. I hope to make my utensil known to others and tell the WORLD it exists: “Empanada Fork“
NENANI: How you make the world know about “Empanada Fork”?
Hipatia: I use social media which has opened so many doors for me as an entrepreneur. It is unbelievable how big of an audience one can obtain, which is very important if you have a small business.
NENANI: What are your contributions to your community?
Hipatia: Recently, I went to an elementary school to speak to 4th grade students about inventions and patents. They were my youngest crowd thus far and I loved it! They had so many questions and were so interested in what I had to say. It was a great experience.
I have returned back to my college alma mater WPUNJ and spoke on a panel for business 101. Also, I am part of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of New Jersey and help them as a social media ambassador.
I truly believe in sharing with others any business knowledge that I have learned along the way especially to a new business owner.
NENANI: What advice would you give to other Latina professional women, whether coming from other countries, or already in the US, to grow in their career and professional objectives?
Hipatia: My advice to Latina entrepreneurs would be to make sure you have the passion and drive to want to succeed. I believe many things in life are attainable but you have to work really hard for it. It is very important to surround yourself with other entrepreneurs following their passions, dreams and purpose in life.
Also, when the road gets bumpy and it will, you have to take it as a lesson learned and keep it moving. Do not be afraid and never give up! Set realistic weekly or daily goals and most importantly follow through.
Lastly, just remember that not everybody has to understand your journey in life and that is perfectly okay.
NENANI: Anything else you would like to share with us?
Hipatia: Latina women inventors that hold a USA patent are less than 1% and I would really love for that to change. ..#sisepuede
Thank you Hipatia for sharing your encouraging words and for reminding us that Si Se Puede! (Yes we can)