JACKSON, Mich. — Jackson’s Women’s Week wrapped up Friday with a panel discussion by five female community leaders who shared stories of leadership, sacrifice and perseverance.
One participant was entrepreneur and Jackson native Kim Gamez.
You may know Gamez as the owner of Jackson’s Crazy Cowboy but she is also a realtor and a tech start up founder. Her original plan was not to become an entrepreneur.
“Right out of high school, I went to beauty school and during beauty school my parents owned a real estate firm here in Jackson,” said Gamez. “I took my boards to become a realtor and within the first week, I double dipped on a house which means you help buy and sell a property. I made a $6,000 commission and I never went back to beauty school.”
Before she turned 21, Gamez owned her own home and purchased the Mexican restaurant Crazy Cowboy with her husband, Hugo, who was born and raised in Mexico.
Kim was tutoring English in college. Hugo was studying for his English proficiency exam and he needed a tutor.
“That’s how I met him and I needed a job. So we’ve been married now for 21 years,” she said.
She launched Gamez Properties in 2002, the same year she and her husband bought Crazy Cowboy.
“I was so naïve. At 20, I thought, how hard can it be? I’ve waited tables before. My husband had worked in restaurants before. So, we just listened to our customers and worked an ungodly amount of hours."
They owned the downtown Jackson Mexican restaurant for 17 years before selling it to focus on other ventures and doubled down on real estate investing.
“The challenge was trying to balance restaurants, the rentals and then the app,” Gamez said. “So, we knew we had to cut one and we had a long run at Crazy Cowboy. We also have five children so the balancing of home life, work life was tough. But, I always have joked that if you can be a landlord, and you can do restaurants you can do just about anything.”
They launched the party planning app “Mi Padrino” originally targeting Hispanic celebrations like quinceañera. The went from 50,000 users their first year to more than 3 million users after their first four years of business.
Kim was at a pitching event in New York City telling her story when someone in the crowd from Forbes Magazine reached out later that evening wanting to tell her story.
“I freaked out,” she said.
But, it didn’t stop there. She was also featured on NBC’s Today Show.
“During the pandemic, they reached out and said, ‘can we use your platform to talk to people planning things during Hispanic Heritage Month?’ I said, ‘yes.’ We flew down to Houston to be on the Today Show because they picked a quinceañera there which was fun,” she said. “People reach out to us because we’re industry leaders.”
Kim and Hugo still live in the area and consider the city not only home, but a place with potential to grow.
“People are sometimes downers to Jackson but I absolutely love Jackson. It’s a place where there’s so much talent. There’s so much opportunity and everyone knows everyone,” Gamez said.
She is now transitioning out of Mi Padrino, still investing in real estate and plans to work as a business consultant.
Other Women’s Week panelists included Henry Ford Allegiance Interim President Emily Moorehead, Consumers Energy Senior Vice President of Transportation and Engineering Tonya Berry, Meade-Wheeler Financial Group President Kathe Meade and Peak Manufacturing President Amanda Hutchings.
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