Evelyn Everton's business doesn't wait for customers to come to them. Solar Flair Optics sells sunglasses and prescription lenses from stands that are mounted to the back of bicycles.

Everton owns the business with her husband, and says her biggest motivation, besides their two children, is to see someone's face light up when they try on a pair of glasses.

"Some of us may be conscious of about how glasses can make us feel," she said. "So we hope we can help you build confidence through your eyewear."

Solar Flair Optics is one of 65 small Latino-owned businesses now getting a boost from a federal grant first awarded nearly a year ago.

The $400,000 grant was awarded to Amplify LatinX, a nonprofit that provides business coaching for small businesses in the Latino community.

At a breakfast event Friday morning with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who secured the grant funding, Everton thanked Amplify LatinX for helping her company organize its finances and operations, as well as helping identify the right venues for her mobile shops to bike to.

"The journey of an entrepreneur is very isolating," Everton said. "And having a coach guide us through that process and keeping us uplifted is very important."

Amplify LatinX's CEO and President, Eneida Roman says although the grant was awarded near the end of last year, the actual money arrived in September. Since then, they've started coaching Solar Flair Optics and 39 other Latino-owned businesses in a number of ways.

"Marketing, digital needs, human resources, finance, operations, legal. I mean, there's all sorts of different needs that the businesses have, and so we meet them where they are," Roman said.

Roman said Amplify LatinX also helps small businesses through the process of being certifiedas a minority or woman-owned business.

Amplify LatinX is now working to identify an additional 25 businesses which will benefit from the grant-funded coaching.

Guests at Friday's LatinX business event at Peka Restaurant in Brighton pose for a photo
Craig LeMoult GBH News

"The Latinx community is one of the fastest growing communities in the commonwealth, and we all benefit from your unique contributions to our economy, our culture and, of course, our restaurant scene," Congresswoman Pressley said at Friday morning's event at Peka Restaurant in Brighton, which was also chosen to participate in the program.

"This program is specifically targeted to immigrants and non-native English speaking populations, low to moderate income entrepreneurs, minority and women owned businesses," Pressley said. "I've always said that our small and micro... businesses are the backbone of our communities."

Pressley noted that Latino communities were among the hardest hit during the pandemic.

"Targeting these resources to them will be critical to ensuring a just and equitable long term economic recovery," she said. "And we are still recovering," she added.

Investing in these kinds of businesses, Pressley said, can help Latino community build not just income, but wealth.

"It's these sorts of investments that will support needs in the immediate, but also deliver a love letter to future generations," she said.