Meet Elvira Guzman – a PR professional with an empowering story and impressive drive.
Elvira Guzman isn’t just an ordinary Public Relations professional. Behind the glitz and glam of the City of Angels and her work with Steve Harvey, there is a tough albeit sweet cookie with a story of struggle and determination. Despite major setbacks that would trample most spirits, Guzman has kicked adversity’s nargas and created a career that aligns with her passions.
Guzman didn’t always have it all. Born in Los Angeles, this proud Mexican-American self-identifying Chicana (with a splash of Filipino) comes from a working-class family. “My parent’s always had legit businesses,” she recalled. Once in a while she’d help her mother with their botanica, which stirred an interest in business. “I used to help with clients,” Guzman said.
An Abrupt Turning Point
Her life changed drastically at the age of 14 when things were rough financially. To make ends meat, her parents began selling drugs. They were soon incarcerated.
“Had my mom come from bankers she would have gone to the bank and applied for a loan,” Elvira explained of her mother’s choice. “Because she came from hustlers, she went that route. It’s all she knew.”
The years that followed were full of loneliness. At one point Guzman hit such a low she couldn’t bear it. “I said I wanted to kill myself,” Elvira admitted.
“I applied for a radio internship on his show and he hired me,” she said. “I was an intern for three months. When time was up he told me, ‘You are going to work in my production company.'”
And off she went, working as a booking agent for BET’s “Comic View.” She proved herself by booking 100 comedians in two weeks time, including George Lopez, who became the first Latino comic on “Comic View.”
Steve Harvey soon became her mentor. “Every single day Steve would ask me, ‘Elvira, want do you want to do with your career?’ He wanted to help me,” Guzman said. And she needed the extra push. At that time she was reeling from her parents release from jail. She poured her heart into her work, tapped into her passions and became self-first, recognizing her professional goals.
“I realized that I liked working with the underdog…urban artists. So I decided to start a PR company.”
From Idea to Reality
Elvira soon established Elvie G PR. Female mentors Troy Beyer and Shirley Strawberry have guided her through her professional journey.
“I didn’t know how to dress. I didn’t know how to…anything,” she acknowledges. “Just imagine where I came from. Not having any guidance since 14.” Her mentor, Shirley, taught her that people will judge a book by its cover. “She taught me how to walk in heels.”
Troy helped Elvira understand the industry. “She taught me that there are no boundaries,” said Elvira. “She taught me that women should help each other. There are not many women that want to help each other, especially if they know that you’re a threat.”
A Latina Entrepreneur
As for being a Latina entrepreneur, she admits it has its ups and downs due to the inequalities in the industry. “Because of my looks, I am able to land a lot of meetings, but it’s more difficult for me to land a business deal over a mediocre guy,” Elvira began. “It’s just very rare that you see someone who looks like us in decision-making positions, especially in Hollywood.”
She overcomes this as she has done most things – by believing in herself and plowing through setbacks. “I start with the positives. I say, ‘I know two languages. I can do eight things at once.” That way she succeeds in doing what she loves and also gives back.
A Nonprofit and a Dress Line
A cause that Elvira is passionate about is the fight against human trafficking. While volunteering at a juvenile hall for young women, she learned that “85 percent of girls in juvenile halls are there because of human trafficking,” Guzman stated. And she wants to help. The PR professional is now dabbling in fashion…for a good cause. With an ePCo informercial deal lined up, she will soon sell a collection of professional dresses. Her dress line, named “Always Goddess,” is projected to be worth 6 million in 24 months. Elvira has big plans for these funds.
“I want to start a nonprofit to help these young women transition from the juvenile hall into the real world – thats the big goal.”
For Elvira, it all comes down to empowering women. That’s why she has teamed up with a leading PR firm in Jamaica, Blazing Trails, to put on an Empowerment Seminar in Kingston, Jamaica from September 26th-28th. She even invited me to attend and has extended an invitation to be a future panelist. That’s because Elvira is self-first. She has worked on her brand and career and is uplifting other women to do the same. I leave you with this piece of advice from Elvie G herself:
“There is nothing we can’t do. We are children of God first and that’s the first step in reflecting and loving ourselves. Focus on who you truly are inside and you will see that there is abundance. You can do anything.”
Have questions for Elvira? Ask in the comments section!