When Daniella Senior, CEO of D.C.-based Colada Shop, was invited to the White House last week, she was so surprised at the invitation that she asked Vice President Kamala Harris’ chief of staff why she was included.
The Cuban cafe and bar executive was told she came highly recommended, and soon thereafter, she was sitting with other entrepreneurs to participate in a discussion about the challenges women face in launching their own businesses, and what the federal government could do to assist.
Senior said a common theme was the lack of access to funding women with entrepreneurial aspirations face. Harris hosted the group to discuss the White House’s Build Back Better agenda, which it describes as “an ambitious plan to create jobs, cut taxes, and lower costs for working families.”
Senior described the hurdles she faced, including relying on investors to launch the business. Harris detailed the administration’s desire to help bring women who had previously left the workforce back.
“We’re often referred [to] as unbankable,” Senior told WTOP. “There are a lot of women out there, and minority women, with great ideas, great businesses that they’re trying to grow and expand and are ultimately not being not able to.”
But Senior was unaware that the original meeting would prompt Harris and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to make an appearance at Colada Shop’s location at The Wharf. Early Monday, Senior noticed Secret Service scouting the neighborhood. And about an hour before Harris arrived, Senior learned Harris planned to visit.
Both Bowser and Harris ordered cafe con leche a quarter sweet, upon Senior’s recommendation. Harris also ordered three empanadas: one beef, one chicken and one carrot and leek.
Harris took a few minutes to greet the restaurant’s staff and customers, urging them to support local businesses. Bowser also spoke about the importance of getting women back in the workforce, Senior said.
“[The chat with Harris] felt like a really honest conversation, and the fact that she’s so invested in small businesses and uplifting us, it’s incredible,” Senior said.
And before the visit concluded, Harris used the stop to describe the important of Build Back Better and the administration’s infrastructure.
“And Daniella’s work here at Colada and her other businesses is a prime example of why these two pieces of legislation are critical and are about everyday folks trying to contribute to their community, contributing and growing our workforce, and in that way, essential to all of us if we want a productive and an economically healthy community,” Harris said, according to a pool report.