ESSENCE Network: Embrace Your Legacy with Maria Melendez

Check out how new author Maria I. Melendez took a leap of faith to live out her purpose and her tips for you to do the same.

To whom much is given, much is required, and Maria Melendez doesn’t take that lightly. After a mentor helped her to work through issues of self-worth, Maria felt called to do the same for women and girls all over the world. Check out how this new author took a leap of faith to live out her purpose and her tips for you to do the same.

Name: Maria I. Melendez

Age: 30

Title and company: Founder and CEO, Embrace Her Legacy

Location: New York, New York

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Twitter: @EmbraceLegacy (Business); @LivingMyLegacy (Personal)

Instagram: @EmbraceHerLegacy


The gig: I empower women and girls to lead purpose-driven lives through empowerment programs, motivational speaking and personal development. I know my mission is complete when a girl tells me how my work has transformed her, or when I get an e-mail from a woman in South Africa telling me that I’ve inspired her.

The journey: Growing up I had to overcome a lot of challenges when it came to self-worth. I learned from all of my mistakes, and knew I wanted to help other women and girls to overcome their struggles in order to achieve a life they want. I also had someone take the time to invest in to me. Because of her, I always felt that it was my priority to invest into the lives of other girls. I knew it was my passion when I quit my high profile job at a major record label. It was not an easy decision but I knew I had to choose courage over comfort and faith over fear.

Tips to embrace your legacy: Understand that change is not an event, but a process. We live in such an instant gratification society and we want everything now. It is imperative that you work on developing your character and working on you first, before trying to birth your vision. We attract success by the person that we become, and this process should be a lifelong effort. I call it “unmasking your truth” in my new book, Take the Limits Off Your Legacy: A Woman’s Guide to Unlock Purpose and Vision. Women can discover their legacy by pursuing their uniquely designed purpose. You are living your purpose when you are using your natural gifts and abilities to serve a human need.

Her mantra: The late Jim Rohn said, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job. If you work hard on your job, you’ll make a living, if you work hard on yourself you can make a fortune.”

From employee to entrepreneur: My career in the music business was a dream job since I was a teenager however I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I started to become miserable, a side of myself I did not know nor like. I first started Embrace Her Legacy as a side project while I was employed, hosting small networking events. I knew that I was being called to do greater things so I faithfully answered and quit my job, perhaps the best decision I ever made. I saved aggressively, which put me in a great space to be flexible and create my own opportunity as my own boss.

Her best time-saving tips: Plan ahead. Think about what you want to get done, and how you will get it done. At the end of every week, I create a list of tasks that must be completed for the upcoming week. I allot an amount of time for each task. When I put myself on a schedule I am efficient with my time, and at the end of the day, I look at what was accomplished. I also eliminate distractions like scrolling through social media and getting back to texts and calls later on in the day.

Her biggest lesson learned: I would definitely change a few things when it came to spending money within my business. I made costly, frivolous mistakes at the beginning that I am still recovering from. I now understand that business cash flow is your lifeline.

The best advice she’s received: “When you don’t ask, the answer is already no.” You have not, because you ask not. As women we can be afraid to ask for what we want. We need to gather the courage to ask for that raise, help at home, a different side dish at a restaurant, or whatever else. If you receive a “no,” then dust it off and wait for the right “yes.”

Her stress relievers: I am a major foodie. I love going out to different restaurants, and there is nothing like a great glass of wine to accompany a good meal. I also dedicate time for myself, my loved ones, and God. I pray often, read my Bible daily, and meditate.

Her superpower: My faith in God. I don’t need anything else more powerful than that.

Her tech must-haves: My iPhone and laptop are everything. I need to have access to my e-mails at all times. I use Instagram and my Bible app the most. I love having God’s word right at my fingertips. I also love my Square app since it allows me to have mobile business transactions with cash and cards.

Her beauty bag: I recently became a bleached blonde and I love it, so I always need to have my bleach powder and mix available. I also love my Shea Moisture conditioner and a moisturizing mix I made myself. Finally, I need my exfoliating face wash, mascara, eyeliner, blush and lipstick or a lip gloss.

Her power accessory: I love a good “show stopping” pair of shoes. You can make anything work with a killer pair on your feet.

Her love life: I’m in love with my best friend. He is the best supporter I have.

Her theme song: “Juicy” by Notorious B.I.G.

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