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Check Out Eric Jara’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Eric Jara.   

Eric, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin? 
I am the son of immigrants. My beginning starts with my parents because they are the reason I do what I do. Growing up Mexican, I learned a lot about the word: love. Considering it was mostly all we had, it makes sense why they’d drill that word in my head for my entire upbringing. We had a place to live and food on the table, so I thought we were blessed. My parents knew that there was more to life, so they did what they could to keep growing. My dad worked in construction since he was 14. When he’d come home from work, he’d be all dirty, beat up, and exhausted. He’d tell me at least once a week, “if you want to, come work with me. Leave school and work with me. Or… you can go to school, get an education, and figure out an easier way to put food on the table”. It was like a challenge. Both my parents drilled school in my head and told me that education was the key to the door of freedom. Since they didn’t get the chance to learn (because my grandparents couldn’t afford school in Mexico), they wanted me to do it. So, I did… As I got older, I realized my parents’ true struggles, their true emotions over our life situation, and decided to go HARD at this whole “school” thing. I was never the best student, but I definitely tried and asked for help. I didn’t know any other way for my parents to stop struggling, and they said the answer was school, so I just gave it all I had there. After high school, I ended up at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah on a full-ride scholarship. Thanks to the First Ascent Scholarship, and Opportunity Scholars, I was able to pursue a higher education. This was something not even heard of in my family. I only had one cousin before me, on my mom’s side of the family, do college. Besides her, though, no one really thought of college as a possibility. Since I was blessed enough to get to the business school at the U, I wasn’t going to take it for granted.  

My first year in college I did okay for myself. I learned about the HUGE positive impact I could create if I went all in on this whole “business” thing and decided to go that route. My first semester out of high school I decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur upon graduation…  

But I’m impatient…  

I read a book whose title and author I don’t really care about, but I remember one specific line that said, “you never have enough money. You never have enough time. You never have enough resources. You never have enough knowledge. Just. Start. Now!”. So, I did. I started my first business during my second semester in college. I was only 19, but I figured I should start early and learn as much as I could. I started The Freddy Scholarship Foundation for first-generation / low-income students to participate in higher ed. It was because of scholarships that I ended up at the U of U, so I wanted to pay it forward in a sense and let others experience the blessings of higher ed that I had seen. I named the scholarship after my little brother, Freddy, who was born and passed away when I was 12. I made a promise to him to make his name live on forever and thought, “might as well build his legacy now.” At only 19 years old, I started to learn (the hard way of course) everything that came with the word “business.” The scholarship lasted a solid 3 and a half years. I funded every penny out of my own pocket from my part times and internships. I fundraised, marketed, and made some cool media and donor connections in the process. Of course, though, being only 19, 20, and 21 years old, I still didn’t have enough resources or donor connections to make the scholarship sustainable. Giving scholarships to students out of my own pocket when my own bills started to add up made things harder and harder every year. I am blessed and honored to say I helped 8 students with $2,000 each each year while the scholarship was up and running. Doing some quick math, anyone can see how I was way over my head; there was no way a full-time college student with no major business experience could keep this afloat. On top of the financial help I provided, I also did everything in my power to connect my scholars with other resources and scholarships at their schools of choosing. I connected them with different offices, scholarships, and job opportunities at their respective schools. I knew I wouldn’t be able to fund them forever, so I wanted to make sure I could help them find bigger and better solutions for their education. After those 3 years, I finally decided put the scholarship on pause until I was able to either pay for it out of pocket without any worries or find enough consistent donors.  

Currently, I own and run 4 businesses in different industries. From construction and coffee to streetwear and entertainment, I have created businesses to help those people most around me who I believe I could help. My parents raised me on the word “love,” and that’s at the center of what I do. My dad worked in construction for 28 years out in the field. Now, I’m blessed to say he’s able to work mostly from home with our construction company. My friend/brother from college wants to help his parents work lighter too; therefore, I’m helping him with their Vietnamese coffee business. There are plenty of artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs who love connecting and working together to find opportunities. Through my streetwear brand, I’m creating spaces and opportunities for artists and creatives to showcase their talent and entrepreneurs to connect with them. Given the difficulty of “making it” in the world of entertainment, my music production company wishes to connect musicians, singers, and rappers with performances, audiences, and new listeners.  

My upbringing and college have shown me the major difference I can make through business, and I am doing what I can with my passions to make a damn difference.  

Besides that, I’ve been a professional wrestler / lucha libre superstar since the age of 15, I’ve sung on stage with my favorite band twice, and I’ve been blessed to have traveled to (and worked in) different places in the world. I’ve self-published a book too, and uhh… I don’t know what else to say about me, really haha. I guess, all in all, I’m a dream chaser, I’m a helper, I’m blessed, I’m grateful, and I do what I can to make the most of this short life we are given.  

With love at the center of all I do, I share my story in hopes of inspiring others to share theirs.  

-Eric “SpinalGator” Jara  

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road? 
In no particular order, my biggest struggles have taught me my greatest lessons. Life ain’t always sunshine and rainbows… for anyone… and my particular dark times include: growing up in lower class, having family struggles when money was tight, figuring out how this whole “school” thing could change my life, my little brother’s passing, my time away from family while I worked in Texas, South Korea, and Chile, The Freddy Scholarship not having enough funds, network, or resources, my construction company for my dad starting off with $0 in the bank, my streetwear brand selling absolutely nothing and not doing any events for artists for a whole year, college and all its challenges, being a professional wrestler, being the only Mexican at conferences, events, and meetings, starting young and hopeful but without any guidance, helping artists perform when limited DJs and people give them the opportunity, having little to no legal help in the food industry, and balancing time for my business to make an impact, my hobbies to make something of myself, and my family to make a life worth living. It’s a trip, but I don’t think I’ll ever run away from them. It’s like a video game. Each new level teaches me something new that I’ll need for the next level.  

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work? 
I own Phoenix Drywall Solutions that actually cares about those in the construction field breaking their backs to bring home something to their families. I own Indicive Streetwear that is actually more than just a streetwear brand and more like a community of artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs.  

I own Canyon Night Records that teaches the business side of things to artists who just need that one opportunity to be heard.  

I own Stardew Coffee that actually brings a new life/meaning to an immigrant family from Vietnam who are really close to me.  

I am “SpinalGator” the professional wrestler, the author, the world traveler, and the friend that hopefully inspires everyone to pursue any goal no matter how crazy it may be.  

I’m proud of every moment in my life. The ups and downs because they’ve made me who I am. Just a dude trying to make history and help others do the same.  

What sets me apart from others is what my parents taught me: love. I know some people see “love” and “feelings” as a weakness in business, but honestly, I’ve seen HUGE ROI with my love. Showing empathy, caring for people as humans, and wanting to know them for who they are, are super easy things that make everyone’s lives easier. It makes all the challenges seem less intimidating. “Love leadership,” or “aloha leadership,” as 2 of my mentors call it, is the only way I’d choose to lead, help, and make a difference. That’s it.  

What matters most to you? 
I think because God and love are at the center at what I do, I’d say that’s what matters most. In our darkest times, it’s always been our loves ones who show up and are there for us, and there’s no scientific way to explain that honestly. To me, God is looking out for us and has given me, my family, my friends, and loved ones opportunities and blessings to grow, to live life, to enjoy time with each other, and to make history. 

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