“The median age of our friends is 52.”
In the world of U.S. construction and real estate development, this wouldn’t be unusual to hear – both fields are dominated by males 46 and older, at a whopping rate of 91%. The person making this comment is 31-year-old Natalya Cappellini, who hails from Boston, MA. and runs her own construction company, Curato Design & Build. Natalya is known for her expertise in construction with the added leverage of an architecture degree — giving her the ultimate design and build perspective. Just 9% of all general contractors in the U.S. are female, and of that group, the average age is 46.
Likewise, Latino developers in the U.S. are also highly unrepresented at just 6.7%. So Natalya’s husband, Diego Torres-Palma, age 37, a Bostonian, originally from Peru, is also a bit of an anomaly. Diego helms Ventana Ventures, a private real estate and investment firm founded with a fearless and forward-thinking spirit dedicated to building community and empowering entrepreneurs. Diego is also the host of a podcast that educates and inspires entrepreneurs — “Startup to Storefront,” recorded in one of their project spaces on Santa Monica Boulevard.
Being a mentor and a role model is important to Diego as he recalls being a young immigrant, “I was introduced to freshwater fishing, baseball, and a honey sandwich on wheat bread (a novelty to my nine-year-old self), all while forming a connection with and learning from a model that was a completely different way of life, background, and culture from my own.” His mother fled Peru with her two small children after the political assassination of Diego’s father. Being raised by a single mother in a foreign country was, and is, foundational to Torres-Palma because he genuinely believes anything is possible. As a role model, he also had a fiercely independent and ambitious woman who let neither sexism nor racism defines her or her children.
It comes as no surprise that Natalya has that same ambition and drive that propels her daily in a world traditionally dominated by men. Born and raised in Boston by her parents and the oldest of four children, Natalya pulls on her steel-toed boots each day and goes about her business without hesitation. She seems genuinely surprised by any questions that may address her gender or age as possible impediments to her success. “I let my work speak for itself.” After studying architecture in school, Natalya realized early in her career that she loved being in the field and did not want to be in an office all day. This was solidified one day when she was on the roof of a building overlooking Fenway Park, and the Blue Angels flew overhead – a moment you do not have at a desk in an office.