Rise of the Female Breadwinners: Cynthia Muñoz 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY SARAH BROOKE LYONS
  • Photo by Sarah Brooke Lyons

Cynthia Muñoz

48; single
Job title: President of Muñoz Public Relations, producer of Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza
Estimated household income: Fluctuates
Education: B.A.

How did you become the primary breadwinner?

Basically, I just started my business and my family wanted to help and they always have. It just sort of happened. My sister works for me and my mother once worked for me but is now retired. But even though my mother worked for me, she was never a dependant of me. Nevertheless, I’ll always be there for her.

Is this the career you always dreamed of?

The funny things is, when I was in a mariachi class in high school, I would play all these fancy parties but I also wanted to be on the other side of the party, enjoying the music. When I was really young I wanted to have my own business, it was embedded in me. I had two aunts with businesses when we were growing up. My father raised us, and he used to say, “You have to either go to college and study computers or have your own business. It’s very important that you’re able to support yourself, because in a marriage, if anything ever happens to your partner—they lose their job, they get into an accident—you are able to still hold down the fort.” That was the message he always sent us. It wasn’t about not needing anybody, but about how unexpected things happen in life.

What is or was your dream job?

I’m living my dream job.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is helping people see the very best of the Latino culture. Whenever I take the winners of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza across the country, people tell me, “Thank you for bringing this beautiful music to our city.” That’s definitely the best part of my job.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Still producing all the beautiful concerts we produce around Texas and beyond.

At what age do you expect to retire?
That’s a really good question… [pauses] I would probably see myself semi-retired at 60. That means that I’ll have some fabulous young people with great energy that are carrying the bulk of the load in my business, but I will still be involved as well.

What’s your biggest financial worry?

I don’t have any financial worries. I live a very simple lifestyle. I’m on the Southeast side of town, I don’t really have any financial worries. I think health is the most important thing in your life, especially at this age. Exercising, drinking plenty of water and eating right, that’s the most important thing. Too many people reach their retirement years strained financially because of health issues, and I don’t want to be one of them.

Are you able to save money on your current salary?

Yes.

How has your career altered your personal life?

I’m having the time of my life right now. I had such an amusing summer. I went to Mexico City for a Mariachi Vargas concert, then New Mexico for another Mariachi Spectacular, Hawaii, then Ashland, Ore., Guadalajara [Mexico]… These are all exhilarating moments for me. It would be really fun to have a partner who finds these things equally exhilarating, but I haven’t found him yet (laughs).

How has being the main breadwinner affected your relationships? Do Latinos tend to resent the fact that the girl makes more money than them? I mean, are Anglos more accepting?

A friend from Colombia once told me, “You’re American when you want to be and Latina when you want to be.” Of course, I’m both. I’m a gringa in the sense that I’m self-supportive, I love pageants, I do what I want to do. But when it comes to dating, I still like the traditional things to kick in. I like a man to open my door for me or pick up the bill, for them to treat me like a lady. But I think men sometimes—because they see me as successful or independent—feel that they don’t really have to do those things. As far as making more money than them, yes, that can be a problem, but especially in my 20s, when we were less mature. “Oh, my God, she’s beating me… I’m losing the race.” I hear a lot of men tell successful, independent women, things like, “Oh, you must have lots of men wanting to date you!” In my case, they give me that message in a subtle way. Men’s self-esteem can be affected [by a female breadwinner]. I don’t know about American men, because I’ve never dated any gringos (laughs). But chances are the self-esteem issue was there before I even met the guy.

 

 

Did you mother work when you were growing up?

My mother is an angel, and she worked around us. She was on mother patrol at the corner of the school. When we were in high school, she was a secretary at the principal’s office. So she worked jobs that were very close to where we were. She’s very much the homemaker type of mom, a very traditional mom. I’m blessed to have her as a mom.

How do you think society views female breadwinners?

I hope we get to the point where we accept whatever makes people happy, whether it is a woman who is passionate about her job or passionate about her children, or volunteering in the community. I hope everyone recognizes that everyone is different and has different passions. As long as you’re doing what you love, it’s OK. With so many women working and being primary breadwinners, it’s time to accept that.

What does “having it all” mean to you? Do you think you have it all?

Sometimes for me, “having it all” means having children and a spouse, a fabulous career, work out, taking care of your house, enjoying fabulous meals… And sometimes I think “having it all” means to do exactly what you want to be doing and being free to do it.

Are you planning to always be the primary breadwinner?

It was never even my plan in the first place. I remember that, when I bought my first Mac, I felt one day I’d be home working on my own little project while my children were roaming around the house. That was my idea of “having my own business.” I never thought of being the main breadwinner at all. But of course, once I started my business it’s been a really fun rollercoaster, and it hasn’t stopped yet.

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