Latin Beat

Leading Role

By Michelle Prather

The was one of the Ms. Foundation for Women's Ten Role Models of 1997. "NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw" dubbed her one of the Most Inspirational Women of 1996. These are just two of the many distinguished titles Christy Haubegger, president of Latina Publications LLC, has earned in her 29 years.

A Mexican-American, Haubegger was adopted by a white family when she was less than a year old and grew up in Houston. Being raised by a non-Latino family never threatened her knowledge of Mexican culture, however. "I grew up in a household that emphasized the importance of my own heritage," she says. "[My parents] made me speak Spanish." She's fluent as a result.

Attending racially and ethnically diverse schools, Haubegger never fell victim to the notion that being Latino was a "bad" thing. But the media's images of Latinos--or lack thereof--during her childhood could have easily conjured such ideas in the mind of an impressionable youngster. Surprisingly, Haubegger is grateful for the absence of media coverage and advertising targeting Latino audiences in the United States. "That [absence] showed me what an opportunity there was," she says.

Before launching Latina, the first bilingual magazine geared exclusively toward Latino women in the United States, in May 1996, Haubegger did plenty of homework. She researched which audience within the Latino market would benefit most from a fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazine. Latina is geared toward acculturated Hispanic women, but its bilingual editorial and advertising format crosses over to all levels of acculturation. "Those of us who are very acculturated want to keep in touch with who we are and maintain our values and interests and learn about what other people like us are doing," says Haubegger. "At the same time, people who are less acculturated use [the magazine] as a tool [to become more acculturated]."

Haubegger hopes advertisers will attempt to understand the subtleties of the Latino market, rather than let stereotypes guide their marketing decisions. "I think there is a tremendous opportunity," she says, "and if you don't heed [this] advice, your competitors will."

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This article was originally published in the June 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Latin Beat.

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