Like much in life, entrepreneurship often depends on knowing the right people. In Northeast Ohio’s Hispanic-Latino business community, the old adage rings especially true. Hermes Ortiz, owner of Ortiz Art Drafts Designs, is purposefully intertwined with his community. These days, Hermes is an established business owner, and he serves as an ambassador of sorts for Cleveland’s Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs, actively working to strengthen networks, build relationships and foster opportunities.
Along with his wife Jeanette, Hermes started Ortiz Art Drafts Designs in 2017 and for years fulfilled custom embroidery orders out of their basement. Jeanette handles all the administrative requirements – managing payroll, running invoices, processing orders and more.
While the Ortiz’s are originally from Puerto Rico, they moved to Cleveland eight years ago in the dead of winter. Though the lake effect snow gave them a run for their money, the Ortiz’s didn’t leave.
Instead, Hermes settled his family, started a visual design and marketing business and now, less than a decade later, he is a staple in Greater Cleveland’s Hispanic community. Quietly—and earnestly—he connects with others; giving referrals, offering counsel, uncovering opportunities and providing graphic design and marketing services for local entrepreneurs.
Hermes launched his brick-and-mortar as part of Las Tienditas del Mercado, the Northeast Ohio Hispanic Center for Economic Development’s incubator space in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood. In 2020, Hermes again upgraded his operations to his own location in suburban Brooklyn, where he serves his clients in a modest strip of storefronts alongside a nail salon, barbershop and others.
As a Latino-owned company, Spanish-speaking business owners started coming to Ortiz Art Drafts Designs for their marketing collateral – branded pens, stickers, t-shirts, door decals and more. Then came orders for bilingual signs, requests for logo designs and even custom PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic. Soon, Hermes was helping contractors who started construction companies but had trouble reading renderings and floor plans as non-native English speakers.
“The Spanish community helped me make my business. I’m returning the favor.”
Hermes got involved with JumpStart soon after his 2020 relocation and has since participated in educational programming, secured grants from ECDI and capitalized on available accounting services.
Today, Jeanette and Hermes run an efficient operation and are a fixture in Cleveland’s hyper-local, Hispanic entrepreneurial ecosystem, providing support wherever and however they can. Whether in a Latino business development accelerator or their Ridge Road location, Hermes prefers to remain proximate to his customers, and more importantly his community.
Last month, Hermes served as a panelist for Conversando con la Comunidad: Navegando Conversaciones con Prestamistas, a discussion focused on funding resources for Spanish-speaking Northeast Ohio small business owners. Hermes discussed his experience, improving financial literacy and the importance of a trusted support network.
“Take advantage of every available resource,” Hermes told the crowd. “Keep your books in order and be ready to strike once opportunities reveal themselves.”
The preemptive approach has served Ortiz Art Drafts Designs well. A diligent entrepreneur who understands that conservative spending and commitment to craftsmanship are paramount to success, Hermes has been able to effectively scale his enterprise in just a few short years. He stressesF the importance of paying off expenses and reinvesting profits back into the business.
These days most customers get more than just design services – they also get a trusted confidant, an unofficial business advisor and a relentless advocate for Hispanic/Latino entrepreneurs.
Not long ago, Hermes be-friended an architect from Honduras who was unsure how her training would translate in America. So, every Saturday, he welcomed her into his shop so she could practice her designs on his computer, where she had access to up-to-date software. Additionally, Hermes has plans to develop workshops and create mentorship programs for budding Spanish-speaking graphic designers in Northeast Ohio.
But the way Hermes tells it, he’s indebted to his community, and is just trying to pay it forward.
“The Spanish community helped me make my business,” he says. “I’m returning the favor.”