Andreá Cortez is founder and owner of Hartford-based Tainted, Inc.
WHY HARTFORD? WHAT BROUGHT YOU HERE?
ANDREÁ CORTEZ: I came here from Boston when I was working in the cosmetic industry back in 2014. I knew I wanted to start my own business, and I had built a strong network of make-up artists here, so it made sense to stay in Hartford, since all my resources were already here.
Many people have the mindset of leaving, thinking it’s going to be better somewhere else. But in my mind, I feel if you can’t build it in your own backyard, you shouldn’t be building it.
HOW HAVE YOU BECOME A PART OF HARTFORD?
ANDREÁ: I didn’t know anyone here when I arrived, except people I worked with. I chose to immerse myself. I chose to knock on business doors and figure out who to collaborate with. I chose to smile and talk to people in coffee shops. I made it a priority to know people and for people to know me. I feel like, in Hartford, it’s the only way to survive.
HOW HAS HARTFORD BECOME A PART OF WHO YOU ARE?
ANDREÁ: When I started my business, I wanted to launch my career and find my success—all those glorious things. And then, as I got to know all the diverse communities here, I experienced a shift. I began to fall in love with the people and the underdog story we have in Hartford. Something about that has made me want to stay here, build more, and choose to make it what I want it to be.
Hartford has become a part of who I am because I’ve laid all of me into it, heart and soul. All the wins, all the failures, all the beautiful collaborations—those that continue and those that have ended. All of it.
When you go all into something, there’s no safety net. My relationship with Hartford has become that for me. It’s become bittersweet. Just like any relationship, you have your blessing years and then you have your growth years, those that create more opportunity. And I’ve definitely shared that with Hartford now. Our relationship has gone from blissful honeymoon to “it’s complicated!”
WHAT DO YOU FEEL MAKES HARTFORD UNIQUE?
ANDREÁ: Again, I’m going to go back to the people. We know all the things we don’t have. But what makes Hartford so unique is, there are so many people who are saying: We’re going to share and create with what we do have. That’s what I believe makes us so unique.
When you talk about innovation, on an entrepreneurial level, to survive—and hopefully thrive—you have to be innovative here.
WHERE DO YOU SEE HARTFORD IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS?
ANDREÁ: I see the arts and culture scene becoming something of substance and something worth talking about. Already, there are beautiful, positive changes with the Culture & Arts Commission’s involvement in the city, which I’m excited about. I’m also excited about the language around arts in general. Other states are showing heavy interest in their art culture. From what I hear, us too. So, I’m looking forward to seeing our arts and culture thrive.
I’m looking forward to seeing more innovative and young entrepreneurs come through. There is opportunity here for people who are willing to take the risk. That’s where I see our future.