Originally from Honduras, Karla Arita, Founder of Power Gals, moved with her family to Miami at the age of seven. After starting a family of her own, Arita moved to Land O’ Lakes in 2013 in search of a safer environment to raise her children. Following a tough stretch in Miami, where Arita lost everything, she rebounded and spent four years with the Pasco County School District. Then she transitioned to her current career as a real estate professional.
“I knew real estate was something I’d be good at,” she said. “In Miami, I worked in restaurants and, as a result, developed great customer service skills. It’s now been three years and I absolutely love it. When people move to a new town, they ask their Realtor for suggestions. We’re able to generate so many referrals on a daily basis. Being a Realtor has opened many doors.”
Part of Arita’s success can be attributed to her active presence on social media, attending networking events, her inherent desire to help others and Power Gals. After about a year in real estate, Arita identified and took action on a new opportunity to expand her own network, while also helping the women in her community.
“A lot of women I knew were reaching out to me about helping them grow their businesses,” she said. “They saw how active I was on social media and they wanted to do the same thing. They were also looking for new ways to generate more exposure. I saw a need for these women to network with each other. I also know how much small businesses struggle. I wanted to help them. That’s where the idea for Power Gals came from.”
The first Power Gals meeting was held with ten women in January 2018. These small business owners from Land O’ Lakes and the surrounding communities came together to support, encourage and inspire one another to maximize their potential. As Arita shared, word spread quickly as women were drawn to the concept and sisterhood of Power Gals.
“By the second meeting, we had 20 attendees,” she said. “By the third meeting, we had 40 attendees. We had women coming from an hour and a half away. Things just took off.”
Arita continued, “Power Gals focuses mostly on small business owners. It’s also for your everyday woman who’s trying to have a side business. We have women from all walks of life, but the consistent theme is support for one another and a desire to help each other grow. Also, as an all-woman group, we’re able to let our guard down and just be ourselves.”
From one chapter in Land O’ Lakes to 13, including Trinity, Palm Harbor, Spring Hill, Wesley Chapel, Lutz, Tampa, Dade City, Zephyrhills, Lakeland, Temple Terrace, Lake County and Miami, Power Gals has grown to a membership base of nearly 600. Each chapter has a leader and members are encouraged to visit other chapters. According to Arita, members are building genuine friendships and seeing results.
“Women are generating new business and they’re growing as professionals,” she said. “I’ve also seen unemployed women find new opportunities. The environment is encouraging and extremely supportive, but also laid back. The women who attend are positive thinkers and easy going. We don’t have any divas. Life is stressful already – we don’t want to add any more stress to it.”
Power Gals is also making its presence known in the philanthropic community by utilizing its ability to bring together caring and driven women to make a difference. They partnered with Loft 181 to support that non-profit’s mission to provide gently used clothes and shoes to girls in foster care and those affected by human trafficking. They also partnered with Helping Homeless Teens of Tampa Bay. However, it doesn’t stop there. As Arita shared, each chapter supports a unique cause.
“I tell my chapter leaders and members to support what they’re passionate about,” she said. “I’m passionate about children, but other women have different causes they prefer to support.”
Looking ahead, Arita, who points to Power Gal’s ability to create camaraderie among its members as a defining characteristic of the group, is focused on the big picture. She wants to expand her concept nationwide. With dues that are considerably less than similar groups and the absence of strict rules associated with attendance and industry representation, the model is one that resonates with everyone.
What advice does Arita have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Don’t be afraid,” she said. “Fear keeps you from being successful. Step out of your comfort zone. Women see me doing things like Facebook Live and they’re scared. I say jump in and do it. People need to see you’re out and about. God made you a certain way – make the best of it.”
To connect with Karla Arita or any of the local chapters, please visit www.PowerGalsNetworking.com.