OSSINING, N.Y. When Daysi Briones tells people she owns a construction company, she often gets some strange looks because there aren't many women in the construction business.
"They look at you like you're some crazy thing, but this is a job a woman can do," Briones said from her desk inside 95 Croton Ave. where she runs her business in addition to doing real estate work for Kane and Associates Realty.
Briones, who lives in Ossining, started her construction business, IQ Contracting & Associates, about a year and a half ago. She doesn't do any of the construction labor, but she does all the administrative work from getting contracts to talking to clients and hiring associates to work with her company.
"I think it's a fascinating job to know about how houses are being built. As time goes on, I love it more," she said. "I'm not making a lot of profit yet, but I think people are starting to know me."
Originally from Peru, Briones went through some tough times before she managed to open up her own business. She came to the United States for the first time when she was 19 years old by crossing over the Mexican border with the help of a coyote. After being caught once by Mexican immigration officials and once by American immigration officials, she spent one month in an immigration jail in Laredo, Texas.
A lawyer helped Briones to reduce her bail, and in 1985, after being released from jail, she came to New York to live with her uncle. She volunteered at Open Door Family Medical Center as a translator in addition to working as a house cleaner and taking care of children.
After a number of years, immigration officials got on Briones' case and threatened to deport her if she did not leave the country. Briones ended up returning to Peru. From there, she applied for a visa to come to the United States, and after three years, the visa was granted.
Briones returned to Westchester, and when administrators at Open Door Family Medical Center learned that she had legal status, they offered her an administrative job in their Mount Kisco clinic.
Briones worked for about 20 years at Open Door before deciding to go into real estate and to open up her construction company. Her first construction job in the East Village of Manhattan was a bad experience because she ended up not getting paid what she thought was a fair amount for a masonry job.
"Sometimes you believe people because they look so nice. You think they will do the right thing, but that is not the case," Briones said. "I'm very careful now. I do everything in writing."
Briones is now looking to expand her business, especially in the local area, including Ossining, Briarcliff and Yorktown. In Ossining, her company has done work on two apartment buildings on James Street.
"If I grow, I can definitely give opportunities for jobs to people," Briones said. "It's not been easy, especially with the economy, but it's a good experience for me."
Join TheDailyOssining.com on Facebook.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.