Speak with 24-year-old Ana Del Rio of Miami and you quickly realize her story might be just as inspiring as those of the millennial business owners she features in new YouTube series, Made in Dade. Though Del Rio is a video producer and web show host as of late, her roots lie in the world of banking and finance.
Upon graduating from Florida International University with a bachelor’s degree in finance in 2014, Del Rio accepted a job offer from J.P. Morgan Chase in Jacksonville as a mortgage-banking underwriter. Although working in the corporate world was going well, she knew deep down she was not pursuing her passion. “During my time at Chase, there wasn’t really a day that would go by without me thinking about my creative side,” she explains. “Even though I was learning about working at a huge institution like Chase and learning about structure, mortgages, it honestly did not fulfill me at all. At all.”
After a little more than two years at the bank, Del Rio did what so many millennials — who are struggling to find work in the first place — fear most: She quit the job she had worked so hard to land. Her “epiphany” came as she was running one day and suddenly began thinking about her friend Rebecca Vazquez’s business, Maheli Heli Swimwear. She had a gut feeling she needed to inform the community about the complexities of Vasquez's lucrative business. “I have always enjoyed watching interviews. However, all of the interviews I would watch were always with Fortune 500 CEOs or people who are known internationally, such as Mark Zuckerberg and Mark Cuban — all of these ‘crazy’ people,” Del Rio says. “So, when I thought about Rebecca and her story, I was like, Wow, that is superinspiring. At her age, she has already gone through business obstacles and has already experienced certain situations that people can learn a lot from."
Del Rio believes there has not been enough of a spotlight on the hundreds of millennials who have started businesses. That’s why, without an inch of film or TV experience, she took the risk to create Made in Dade.
In the weeks prior to video production, she partnered with camera director Rodrigo Torres and her boyfriend, Daniel Baez, and later contracted video editors Michael Mechoso, Santiago Gonzalo, and the Lucky Twins Productions. Once her crew was assembled, she realized the companies they would feature in the series had to fit a certain criteria, because startups seem to come and go faster than an ice cube on a Miami sidewalk in August. Therefore, Del Rio focused on only the “doers”: millennials who in a little more than two years have turned their unique dreams into a profitable reality.
Ana Del Rio (center) with Brandon Parr and Curt Chavoustie of watch company Parr & Co.
Courtesy of Made in Dade
“Made in Dade is about millennial people who are doing a business, a nonprofit, or something impactful for a little over two years,” she explains. “Even though I love when people my age have an idea and are going for it, I wanted to only feature the ones who actually got things done.” Some of the Miami-based companies included in the series are watch company Parr & Co., nonprofit organization Blue Missions, and Miami's beloved Salty Donut.
In addition to interviewing young business owners in the pilot season of Made in Dade, Del Rio also seeks to emphasize the bigger picture: Miami’s young adults are making a mark both culturally and economically. “What I want to also do is highlight that not only is [Miami] beautiful, but there’s this culture that’s evolving here of young people who just want to make an impact and do things.”
Furthermore, she hopes the series catches the eye of people who wouldn’t usually come to Miami to invest in the startup field. “They focus on real estate and tourism, but there’s more than that," she says. "I want to highlight this community. This is what we’re doing, what we’re about, and we’ll see how it goes.”
Right now, Made in Dade is strictly a video series on YouTube. However, as any businessperson who has ever worked in finance would do, Del Rio is already thinking about the big picture. “Eventually, I would like to see the series go to other platforms, like Hulu, Netflix, or even a local news channel. There’s a lot of things that I want to do, and I just want to go for it.”
Made in Dade's first three episodes are available on YouTube. For more information, follow the series on Facebook or Instagram.
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Nicole Lopez-Alvar is a contributing writer for Miami New Times who loves food. A Miami native, Nicole attended Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart in Coconut Grove and later graduated from the University of Miami.