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Entrepreneur Honored for Business Success and Community Impact

Anna Almaraz, a University of Texas at San Antonio grad and future MBA student, has received the prestigious Harvey Najim Future Texas Business Legend Award through the Texas Business Hall of Fame, which honors the accomplishments of outstanding Texas business leaders, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs.

A first-generation small business owner, Almaraz earned this recognition through her many accomplishments in academic excellence while also running her own business, Social Sophie Marketing LLC.

Driven to go above and beyond in all her endeavors, Almaraz has also earned the position of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Manager at the Najim Center of Innovation and Career Advancement, and she recently expanded her business by adding a new service that helps other small business owners establish and develop their LLCs in the state of Texas.


Almaraz continually hit on the importance of embracing new opportunities to succeed.

“I established my business back when I was a 15-year-old high school student and am 22 now, which has been seven years of constantly attending networking events, not being afraid of talking to higher-ups and important people, and also lots of trial and error."

The key to forward movement and progress even in the face of obstacles?

"Saying yes to every opportunity presented to me and finding a way to make it work and fail forward to become a better business owner and figure to my community."

Though she is still just starting out, Almaraz is already thinking about helping others, a true embodiment of our mission at the NSLS.

"Coming from many hardships and struggles, I am so excited to inspire others through determination, hard work, and approaching all situations with a 'yes' attitude. You can do anything you desire and dream of."

Determined to succeed, Almaraz sacrificed many weekends to work on business plans, polishing her resume, editing her work, and more.

Passion, tenacity, and discipline helped Almaraz stay on the path to success; each trait and skill gave her the courage to put herself into unconventional situations that allowed for networking, to meet with and be open to feedback from mentors, and to collaborate with others.

“I've worked hard to develop the confidence to approach and build lasting relationships with anyone, embracing any opportunity that comes my way. Above all, my passion for business drives me to be the best I can be and support causes for humanity that are important to me.”

Almaraz not only said ‘yes’ to opportunities; she found her own inner ‘yes’ to drive her forward: “Truly my years of hard work and dedication got me to where I am today. I kept pushing forward, I kept my vision, and I kept pushing to find my 'yes.' Now I am an MBA student and focusing on entrepreneurship and leadership.”


finding your Inspiration to succeed

Almaraz has many people in her life who inspire her; two of the most influential are Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Harvey E. Najim and Gordan Hartman, founder of Morgan's Wonderland.

Inspired by the way Najim built a successful business from the ground up and his blending of business success with compassion for others, Almaraz admires his passion and love for community. “I hope one day too that I can help and provide for my community, which has nurtured and cared for me, as much as Mr. Najim has.”

Gordon Hartman’s work for the community, especially for individuals with disabilities, has also been an inspiration for Almaraz, and hits close to home. 

“Since a young age, I have helped to raise my brother who has autism and have also advocated for him and other people with special needs.”

Hartman’s work motivated her to launch a second, small seasonal business during COVID-19, Sophie’s Sweets Cookies. Inspired by her brother’s gluten free diet, Sophie’s Sweets Cookies provided gluten free cookies to the San Antonio area. Almaraz donated over 5,000 cookies to “Merry Eatmas,” an event that provides warm meals to families in need during the holiday season.

Almaraz has been encouraged by a wide support network. “I also want to give a shout-out to my amazing mentors and support system that has helped me along my journey and truly inspire and push me to be my best every single day. These people are: Erica Clark, Krishna-Garza Baker, Will Smith, Shelly Dotson, LaRhesa Moon (Pollock), Bernadette Henderson, Amy Blankson, Harvey E. Najim and, most importantly, my mother, Pilar Almaraz.”

Almaraz’s Advice for Future Leaders

"I believe there is a difference between 'leaders' and 'bosses.' Bosses tell people what to do and don't ask for others' input or opinions. Leaders inspire others, promote opinions and conversations with others, and they also serve the greater good of their team and community.”

So what does Almaraz suggest to become this kind of leader?

"My advice is to 'lead from the middle.' What I mean by that is it is vital and extremely important that as leaders we are listening to our whole team and understand that everyone's opinions are valid. It is important to understand that everyone comes from different backgrounds and we have to hear the perspectives of everyone within the team and organization for goals to be met, to inspire others, and also increase productivity.”

Almaraz credits the NSLS with providing her with the resources to learn how to follow through on these values.

"I love the Speaker Broadcasts, which are an amazing way for me to gain new knowledge and insights on how I can become a stronger and more inclusive leader. I also love the volunteer opportunities that we have within our chapter. I think that servant leadership is a core competency that all successful leaders share, and the NSLS does a great job of instilling servant leadership through all of its members."

Almaraz highlights the fact that leadership and success aren’t limited to those in specific positions of power. “I believe that anyone can be a leader regardless of their title and their background because leadership is about inspiring others and building a productive and inclusive team to reach goals together.”

With so many large goals for the future, including plans to do a Ted Talk within the next year and the hope of becoming a Forbes contributor who writes about inclusive leadership and the experience of being a young Hispanic business owner, Almaraz is sure to stay on our radar.

Entrepreneurship is a great way to channel your creative nature while making a living and an impact on your community. This entrepreneur is doing just that, helping military and military families in the process.