A power couple credits education and hard work as their ticket to the top.
A Hispanic Heritage Month tribute to Latin Biz Today forerunner Latin Business magazine enjoy this Summer 2006 article.
Angela Lau and Marcos Velayos do not fit your typical idea of a power couple. Although they are young, attractive, and successful, they come from humble beginnings and believe in the traditional work ethic their parents instilled in them while adding their own creative spin.
At the age of 35, Angela Lau Velayos, a University of California, Berkeley graduate, is celebrating her company’s 10-year anniversary. Her company, Ficcare, which means “staying power” in Portuguese, single-handedly put hair accessories on the fashion map. Marcos Velayos, 32 and an accomplished Harvard graduate, has just been named one of the youngest partners in the acclaimed law firm Latham & Watkins. Together, the Velayos’ are an extremely powerful and fortunate couple.
Mrs. Lau Velayos grew up in São Paulo, Brazil, although her family origins lie within the elite of China. She and her family moved from Brazil to Los Angeles when she was 16 years old, forcing her to start from square one and learn everything from scratch – a new language, how to make new friends in a new country, and how to adapt to a whole new culture. Coming from a Latin background, Mrs. Lau Velayos was raised valuing the importance of family. These tightly held values led her to donate one of her kidneys to her older sister, Suzie, five years ago. “I believe we were all given two kidneys so that we may give one away to save a life,” she says, and she believes that her two-year-old son, William, is a gift from God for having shown such unconditional love for her sister.
Mr. Velayos’ parents grew up in Argentina and moved to the U.S. in the early ’70s. They lived in New York when Mr. Velayos was born, and moved to Los Angeles when he was four. His parents instilled in him the values of family, hard work, education, and the importance of helping others.
The couple met through a mutual friend and hit it off right away. They both feel incredibly lucky to be doing what they love as well as being successful in their respective fields.
Both believe that education is extremely important for the success and future of any person starting their own Hispanic business or career. They agree that education and funding for education are important issues that stand in the way of success not just for Latinos, but for our entire society. “One of the most special attributes of Latino culture and Latino businesses is the importance of the family and the support family provides. However, family support can only go so far if the educational opportunities are not there. If the opportunities are there, people will rise to the challenge.”
Mr. Velayos believes that, beyond education, hard work is an equally important ingredient in realizing personal goals. “All of the great things in our country’s history have been built on hard work.” His philosophy regarding reaching business goals is that investing and re-investing in your career is key. “I believe that a cornerstone to continued success is to not get complacent. Staying up to speed on current developments, new cases, and new trends is important.”
Education and hard work have enabled Mr. Velayos to become a successful attorney who works on cases that cover a broad geographic area and involve complex land use and real estate issues, including exciting projects within Latino business communities. He is working on mixed-use development projects that are going to eliminate blight and provide significant investment into economically underserved areas. He also closed one of the largest raw land sales in the history of California: 12 acres of land that sold for a record breaking $100 million dollars. He also represents the NFL and its efforts to bring a football team back to Los Angeles, as well as being the youngest attorney selected to work on a controversial and complex project in Los Angeles, Playa Vista.
When it comes to designing hair accessories, Mrs. Lau Velayos likes to create a story and a lifestyle that women of all races and ethnic backgrounds can enjoy. Her hair clips have been seen on the hit television shows “Friends,” “E.R.,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Desperate Housewives,” and have been worn by some of Hollywood’s most stunning women, including Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox Arquette, Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria, and Felicity Huffman. She reached the pinnacle of her success with Ficcare when she was asked to appear on an “Oprah” show featuring young millionaires and their successful stories.
Mr. Velayos has been fortunate to work with brilliant attorneys at his firm and has learned from them and received career guidance. He says, “Mentoring is an important ingredient of giving back,” and he enjoys mentoring law students and others who are working hard to make a difference.
Mrs. Lau Velayos’ mentor was her grandfather, a successful chemist who created his own soy sauce formula that he eventually licensed to Disney for their Mickey Mouse brand. He then opened a very successful soy sauce factory in Brazil.
The Velayos’ are thankful for everything their families and community have done for them, and are dedicated to charitable outreach. Along with mentoring, Ficcare has donated over $500,000 to a variety of causes, from the September 11th Fund to the Susan G. Komen Research Foundation and the Pediatric Aids Foundation. The company even designed a bracelet in collaboration with Sting to help raise funds and awareness for his Rainforest Foundation. Their support for education has most recently extended to a generous donation to the Latin Scholarship Fund, a non-profit organization providing scholarships to Latino college or college-bound students.
The couple has no future plans to collaborate on a business venture together because they both enjoy what they do and learn from each other. “Work is important, but family is also important and it is nice to be able to separate the two. Our main focus is to raise our son and to make sure that he is happy and healthy,” they remark.
When asked what they think might be good future career opportunities for Latinos, both agree that there are opportunities in every field and great talents are born every day. “There is no limit to what one can do. Whatever field someone chooses, if they enjoy what they do and work hard, the positive results will follow,” they agree.
The single most important thing Mr. Velayos would tell a young Latino just graduating from college with a degree in law is that “you have the ability to make a difference – use it to make yourself better, to make your community better, and to make the world better.”
Mrs. Lau Velayos’ words of inspiration to a young Latino graduating with a degree in business are “carve your pathway to success, because it is within your reach.”