In episode 67, of the Life Lnxx Podcast, the First Latina Puzzle Company Founder, Dawn Toledo Walsh, highlights how to start the company of your dreams and stop toxic work lifestyle. Dawn was raised in a large Latino community in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She watched her parents and family work tirelessly, instilling a strong work ethic. But, after successfully rising to VP in corporate retail before 40, Dawn hit a hard stop during Covid. Then, she realized there’s a huge difference between hard work and working hard.
Dawn’s parents immigrated from Puerto Rico at a young age, wanting opportunity for raising a family. They settled in a community thriving with Puerto Rican culture, yet didn’t teach her Spanish. After losing her father young, Dawn was determined to rise out of what she knew and aimed for a professional lifestyle, leaving her Latina culture behind.
So, she began her career in corporate retail, diligently adhering to systemic protocols. Dawn wore the “right” clothes and straightened her gorgeous, curly hair. Adopting a fast paced New York lifestyle, she rose to the top and hit her mark. Everything was going as planned, as she assimilated into American culture.
Knowing How to Start Again
Then, Covid hit and the company went bankrupt, giving Dawn the perfect opportunity to pause and re-evaluate. In that moment, she realized the toxicity of a corporate environment and demands, from straightening her hair to long work hours to lack of Latina representation. Using her creative resilience, a trait she assigns to her heritage, Dawn bounded into entrepreneurship to start her own company.
Surprisingly, Dawn is a self-proclaimed nerd, who loves art. So, she created ‘Puzzle Culture’, becoming the first Latina to found a puzzle company. “Fearless”, the sign on her bookshelf, describes her perfectly. Besides adding representation, Dawn focuses on artists to bring diversity into the industry. She shares her best advice to other rising entrepreneurs: network!
Still, Puzzle Culture is more than just puzzles. It offers themed subscription boxes, bi-monthly and quarterly. Past themes included Latine Heritage and Forest Night for Fall. With Christmas and other holidays around the corner, it’s the perfect time to consider gifting a subscription to friends and family.
For now, Puzzle Culture remains a passionate start-up for Dawn. Even though she went back to corporate life, Dawn landed her main dream job at Lego, a family owned toy company focused on building. She sees it as another puzzle company in her wheelhouse.
Now, Dawn thrives in her culture, humorously admitting the difficulty of being vegetarian and Puerto Rican. She has her eyes set on the typical coffee pot the viejecitas use on their kitchen stoves. Until then, Dawn sits on her back deck with her cafecito, her curly locks down, in gratitude for starting her joy company.
Listen to her speak passionately about embracing her Latina identity, Puerto Rican roots and love of family on the episode, ‘Building a Joy Company, One Puzzle Piece at a Time, with Dawn Toledo Walsh’.