Latoya Hawthorne | Founder, Photographer & Storyteller
Latoya Hawthorne, who hails from the beautiful island of Jamaica, relocated to New York in 1993. She comes from a family of hard-working, successful entrepreneurs: Her family owns the Caribbean bakery and cuisine enterprise, Golden Krust. Interested in owning her own business, Latoya studied communication and advertising at Iona College in Westchester, NY. However, Latoya’s life came to a turning point when she became a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her former boyfriend. Latoya relocated to California after escaping the physical and emotional abuse she endured throughout her relationship.
After years of working in advertising, Latoya decided it didn’t fulfill her purpose in life. In 2011, Latoya left the advertising world to pursue modeling, which later turned into photography. She devoted her leisure time to volunteer with the SET to Create program at the Downtown Women’s Center. She fell in love with the mission of the Downtown Women’s Center and identified with it. When a position opened up within the social enterprise, Latoya saw it as an opportunity to use some of her skills for a greater purpose. She has been working at the Downtown Women’s Center since 2012.
Since joining the staff, Latoya has been inspired by the Vocational Education and Social Enterprise Department at the Downtown Women’s Center. Latoya utilizes her skills in advertising and photography within the social enterprise; specifically the eCommerce website. Her most favorite part of her role at the Downtown Women’s Center is empowering the women to build relationships with one another, holding each other accountable, as well as seeing the growth in the women who want to go back into the workforce.
Inspired by the wrap around services that the Downtown Women’s Center provides, Latoya decided that she needed to complete the 40-Hour Domestic Violence Training and is now a Domestic Violence Counselor Advocate mandated by the State of California. Latoya also went back to school and obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies in 2015. She is currently writing her memoir on overcoming domestic violence, drug abuse, and low self-esteem. Latoya can be found cooking, camping, or exploring and reviewing new restaurants in her spare time. She designs camera bags and makes organic home and body products for those with sensitive skin.