As Strong As The Mother Next To Me Spotlight: Raquel Cusi

Raquel Cusi

Meet Raquel Cusi, Owner/Co-Founder of The Stronghold

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Raquel, we are so grateful you decided to share your story with us. Let’s start with who you are both personally and professionally. Give us the 30-second elevator speech that you would give when asked to introduce yourself.

I’m a homeschooling mom of 5, and have run The Stronghold Jiu Jitsu, Self-Defense and Fitness with my family for 13 years. I also enjoy blogging, event planning, and anything DIY/Crafty. I was born and raised in San Diego (originally North County San Diego), and now have the pleasure of raising my family in Point Loma/Ocean Beach.

What does “As Strong as the Mother Next to Me” mean to you?

We are built for community. It’s important to surround yourself with like-minded women to help you pursue your dreams, but it’s also important to come alongside other moms to help mentor. I think it’s fair to say that we as moms won’t be 100% strong and on it 24/7, so its imperative to encourage fellow moms and be ready to receive encouragement as well when we are burned out.”

Tell us about yourself as a mother and business woman. My kids are now 12, 10, 8, 5 and 1-month old. I grew up having 1 brother and next door to cousins but never knew I would have so many children. :] At a young age, I knew I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and looking back I’m very grateful to my parents who instilled the “Dream Big” philosophy in both my brother and I.

How important is it to you to surround yourself with other moms both professionally and personally? Being around strong women helps us stay strong.

I first started Jiu Jitsu in 2005. I was merely a student for 2 years, and my kids father wanted to start his own Jiu Jitsu school. I was the one with the Business major so I helped him will all the administrative work. Day to day I work on Kids Programming, Marketing and admin work.

What challenges do you face as a mother and a business person? Balancing my time – I want to be able to devote as much time to my kids (it’s why I wanted to own my own business in the first place and make my own schedule). Busyness can get in the way of that sometimes.

What piece of advice would you give another mom who is struggling with balancing work/home life? or thinking about starting her own business?  Focus more on quality than quantity. Still a struggle for me as well, but doing the best we can is sometimes the only thing we do. Having a good support system is key as well. My mom has played a huge role in the success of all my endeavors, and I am grateful for everything she does to help me grow, and also take care and spend time with my kids. If you don’t have family support, find a small group of friends to keep you solid, especially when you want to quit.

What are some of your favorite resources for business that have saved you time?? My brother has been a mentor for coaches for several years now, a lot of his principles have saved me time in my own programming, day-to-day operations, etc.

Tell us about a challenging time in your business and how you overcame it? COVID for sure. It has taught me to constantly adapt and work better to tame my anxiety when we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.

How did you build your community of moms around you and how have they impacted your life personally and professionally? Back in 2012, I remember trying to reach out to more San Diego moms (outside of our current Jiu Jitsu circles). I then found Angela Quisumbing with SD Moms Night Out. Since then, it has opened so many doors and communities and taught me better to connect with other moms both personally and professionally. I have created lifelong friends with so many moms since that day.

Do you have a non-profit or cause that you want us to know more about? And why are you so passionate about this? In 2011, we won a grant to offer Jiu Jitsu lessons and uniforms to families who couldn’t afford it. To date we have sponsored over 200 students with free lessons and gear. Owning a small business can be tough, there’s a lot of times my own kids couldn’t participate in extra-curricular activities because we couldn’t afford lessons and uniforms (outside of Jiu Jitsu). It made me realize I never want any other child to not be able to not participate just because their family couldn’t afford it. I attempted to launch a nonprofit in 2017 but short story, that is still on the back burner. Even without the nonprofit, we still offer scholarships and have many community sponsors reach out to pay for lessons, which I am forever grateful.

Would you like to offer anything to our readers? Would love to offer a free private intro lesson for Jiu Jitsu, Self-Defense or Fitness to any family!

Anything else you would like us to know? It’s the small things that add up and can carry you through those hard times. When we can take a moment and appreciate the tiny wins around us, that’s when our world starts to change. Start with Gratitude…

as strong as the mother next to me“As Strong as the Mother Next to Me” was built on the principle and belief that with the right community and sisterhood you can move mountains. Founder Niki Jones is a single mother and entrepreneur who understands that leaning on her circle doesn’t make her weak; it makes her unstoppable.

Research supports that by doing good or paying it forward, in ways big or small, not only feels good, but also does us good.

MOTHERHOOD IS HARD ENOUGH. San Diego Moms wants to provide an experience and community that is inclusive, uplifting and supportive to ALL moms. By empowering and lifting each other up, we become better women, partners, leaders, and friends.

At this time I would like to ask you to MOMinate two moms and tell us why they are the Strong Mother Next to You . . .

Angela Quisumbing   

“She is one of the best San Diego Mom connectors that I know. She has taught me so many things that has helped me grow my brand, business and community. She always strives to see everyone around her succeed.”

Verna Cortez

“Verna is a mom of 4 and Mompreneur (Noelani’s Artistry). Just like many business owners, she’s had to constantly adapt as well to keep her doors open. Although we haven’t seen each other since COVID, I still witness her working hard for her family and business, and inspiring others to do the same.”


To nominate a Strong Mother next to you or submit your information to be featured, please click the link below for more information.

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