Bernadine Cruz has spent more than 30 years as a practicing small animal veterinarian, but she never owned – or wanted to own – her own practice. “My how times have changed!” she told TheWMarketplace as she was about to launch her new company, CONMIGO, which specializes in a travel bag that literally meets everyone’s needs. Instead of stepping into retirement like many of her peers, Bernadine has navigated the perils of developing a business plan, addressing legal matters, establishing manufacturing channels and figuring out social media – all during a global pandemic. Here’s what she had to say about it!

What motivated or inspired you to start your own business?

For years I have given presentations to women veterinarians and veterinary nurses on the topic of How to Walk and Talk Like a Woman but Be Heard Like a Man. I would cover topics on how women subconsciously sabotage their own success by undervaluing themselves, the fear of failure and our hesitancy to move into roles outside of our comfort zones unless we were 110% qualified and prepared.

To the world I appeared very self-confident, highly accomplished and respected. I was, however, hiding a nasty secret...I was afraid of failure. I was afraid to start my own business with a product that I knew would meet the unfulfilled needs of business and pleasure travelers – men and women, young and seasoned. In order to be credible I would need to take a chance. A chance where I could fail, but what an adventure it could be. I knew I couldn't do it on my own, but with networking and being willing to humble myself and say, “I don't know, I need help,” that I could succeed. It has taken me several years to get to this heady stage.

What worry or concern wakes you up in the middle of the night?

A world-wide pandemic, major financial recession, travel industry that has tanked, and being a card carrying Medicare member...anyone with any sense wouldn't be spending their retirement funds on starting a business. Yes, it gives me night time sweats, but what a rush!

What are your hopes for the future?

I hope that more women will be willing to take a chance on themselves, no matter their age. We cheer on children when they attempt and fail. Now we need to give ourselves permission to try. Not all efforts will be successful, but we can never succeed if we don't at least try. One path may not have led to our expected goal, but we can learn from all roads traveled. It has been said that it is the journey not the destination that really counts. Very apropos for someone starting a luggage company!

What is one piece of advice you wish you had heard, and listened to, in life or in business?

Keep your eyes and ear open and your mouth shut. It is the best way to learn.

Click on the image below to visit CONMIGO's storefront on TheWMarketplace



HER STORY Q&A: Bernadine Cruz, Owner of CONMIGO

HER STORY Q&A:  Bernadine Cruz, Owner of CONMIGO