‘I started surrounding myself with women who had something going on, who had goals, who were inspiring other women, who were community leaders.’
Alexandra Velez, Brentwood
“When I was 14, my dad decided we were moving from Brooklyn to Puerto Rico. His mom had moved a couple years prior to that, and he’s definitely what we call a mama’s boy. I lived there for 11 years, I went to high school and did some college in Puerto Rico.
“I will be honest, I disliked my parents for the first few months of being in Puerto Rico. However, as the years went by, when I think back, I was blessed — there were beaches and sun year-round. My friends in New York were in a foot of snow, and I was at the beach. And I’m also very grateful because that helped me become bilingual; it just took me a little bit to get to that way of thinking.
The feeling is of a big family, whether it’s a lunch gala or a vision board, this is your home.
“When we moved to Puerto Rico, my dad started his own business; he took over a supermarket. That helped me get interested in business, marketing, becoming comfortable speaking to people, being comfortable with money. Many people don’t feel comfortable with money. It showed me a different world., I was extremely shy, and it took me out of my shell.
“I moved back when I was about 25. I moved out to Long Island to start a family and raise our two daughters, and little by little, the rest of my family came back. At some point, having gone through a traumatic separation, I was in a dark place. I was tired of being negative, I was tired of being in a bad mood, I was tired of not having anything to look forward to, even though I had two beautiful daughters. There were times when I wanted to give up on everything.
“One day I was, like, ‘I need something better.’ I started surrounding myself with women who had something going on, who had goals, who were inspiring other women, who were community leaders. When I was in Puerto Rico, I did a couple of events with friends. I thought, ‘Why not try it here?’ I wanted to do an event to bring women together, a day of inspiration, a day that just highlighted women.
“From that luncheon in March 2016, Flutterflies was born. The feeling is of a big family, whether it’s a lunch gala or a vision board, this is your home. Flutterflies started as a women’s empowerment organization. However, really, the message is for everyone, no matter the sex.”
Interviewed by Barbara Schuler