During the pandemic, Tashalee Cruz moved her business, Velia’s Virtual Solutions, from The Bronx to Hartford’s West End. MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Tashalee about her entrepreneurial journey.

NAN PRICE: What brought you to Hartford?

TASHALEE CRUZ: It was the right blend of suburban and urban. It felt like a nice mix of home for me because I still feel and see the urbanness I experienced in the Bronx, but also have the peaceful suburban life I needed. For me, it became a more of an inspiring environment. I was losing my inspiration back in New York.

That was another driving force for why I came to Hartford. I knew I wanted to leave New York and go to another state and I had the opportunity to get to know the area and find my own place to enjoy.

NAN: Moving to the Hartford Region as an entrepreneur during a pandemic, do you feel like you’ve tapped into local resources or found an entrepreneur tribe here?

TASHALEE: I’ve just started to look into more entrepreneurial things. I’m trying to get to some networking events and I joined the Hartford Chamber of Commerce, which is a great resource. One of the reasons I got the SBME certification was to try and build that network, too. As far as utilizing the resources, I’m excited to discover more because I know there’s a lot out there. The pandemic made it challenging to connect, but thankfully a lot of things are online.

NAN: Any advice for others who are starting their own businesses?

TASHALEE: Don’t be afraid to ask for any help. When I got into this business, I was all about wanting to do everything myself. I thought: I don’t need anybody. I got this—that New York mentality never goes away! But, since then, I’ve learned not to be afraid to ask questions and ask others for help.

Read the entire interview at Innovation Destination Hartford