MIAMI -- At age 10, when she arrived in the United States from Cuba after waiting four years to be reunited with her father, Jennifer Arniella didn’t dare to speak English. She was afraid that her middle school classmates would make fun of her, so she kept to herself and her small circle of friends from Homestead.
Arniella, who did not speak English well until she was 18, has had the opportunity to meet President Joe Biden to tell him — in the language that once gave her headaches — the difficulties she faced and the perseverance she displayed to start a business during the pandemic.
“It was something very intimate, very nice, not at all intimidating,” says Arniella, recounting the meeting that five small-business owners had with Biden in the Oval Office on April 28.
“The president asked us about the problems we had with our business in this pandemic, and he also talked about his experiences as a young man. I was impressed by his simplicity,” Arniella said.
Back at home in Southwest Miami, painted woodwork, letter stencils and a laser printer fill a room. Several signs rest on a kitchen island. One says “Rejuvenate,” and another one is about donating food to people in need. They are the signs that she embosses.
“Find something you love so much that you can do it without stopping, that when those 10 hours a day are over, you want to continue, although obviously you can’t because you have other obligations,” Amiella advises for entrepreneurs.
The mother of two little girls began her business career when one of her daughters was only two months old.
It’s not hard to see why her business, Unique Crafts by Jenn, made her a successful entrepreneur and an ambassador for Miami’s small-business owners, when she was chosen by the Small Business Development Center Network of Florida International University to go to the White House.
“I focus on making signs for small businesses, which I really like because I learn from the different businesses that people are creating all over the United States. We ship to California, New York, Tennessee,” she says about the services provided by Unique Crafts by Jenn, which in just over a year has grown so much that Arniella’s house became too small for her and now she needs a warehouse.
Arniella graduated in mechanical engineering in 2014, worked for five years and got a master’s degree from FIU. d to use as a guide on the path to leadership in the industry. When the pandemic hit in 2020, she was two months pregnant. After she finished her master’s studies, she started looking for a job. But then came layoffs.