• R.A. Ruiz Acosta

Latinx AF: Meet the Makers Volume 1


For Latinx Heritage Month in September, I sent out a series of interview questions to dozens of latinx makers, business owners, artists, & creatives. Each and everyone of these individuals is a creative that I personally admire as fellow latina business owner, and as a consumer hoping to support peoples dreams.


We all may come from different cities, different coasts, different countries- our families may eat different foods, listen to different music, watch different movies, even speak different languages. We all might look completely different- but that is the vibrancy of our shared culture that I'm in love with, and the spirit of resilience and creativity that binds us together.


I hope you find this series as inspiring as I do, and I hope to help us all put money and support back into our community during the holidays, and year round.


Cafe Con Azucar

"I'm hoping to bring awareness to injustices and discrimination the Black and Brown community face as well as the issues within our communities. I also want those who are doing the work fighting these injustices to remember to care for themselves."


What's Your Name, Your Businesses Name, your location, and your age?

Marlene, CAFÉ CON AZÚCAR, San Diego, CA, 28 Website Link: https://cafeconazucarshop.com/

Instagram Link: https://www.instagram.com/cafeconazucarshop/


When did you start your business and what inspired you?

I started CAFÉ CON AZÚCAR in 2019. I'm hoping to bring awareness to injustices and discrimination the Black and Brown community face as well as the issues within our communities. I also want those who are doing the work fighting these injustices to remember to care for themselves.


What challenges have you faced and overcome in your business/ creative project?

Finding balance has been challenging. I'm a full time mama and high school teacher so running a small business can be stressful at times. However, creating CAFÉ CON AZÚCAR has been rewarding and fulfills another purpose of mine!


What gets you through the rough patches in business and creativity?

Prayer and positive affirmations get me through the rough days. Spending a few minutes with God, showing and expressing gratitude, repeating positive affirmations always get me through a rough day.

What are some of your proudest moments in business/ with your creative project?

One of my proudest moments has been participating in the Mujeres Market in Los Angeles and having the opportunity to connect with the community in person. Also having my merch sold in a brick and mortar, Local Niche, has been affirming and an exciting opportunity.

What are some of your favorite creations/products? Please include pictures & link to product

-End Anti-Blackness In Latinx Communities

https://cafeconazucarshop.com/products/end-anti-blackness-in-brown-communities

-Women Don't Owe You Shit

https://cafeconazucarshop.com/products/women-dont-owe-you-shit-tee

Who are some of your favorite latinx businesses, creatives, and artists? Who do you want more people to know about? (please give links if you got em)

rootsncurls - https://www.instagram.com/rootsncurls/

defineyourmovement- https://www.instagram.com/defineyourmovement/

tarjetitasconamorxgo- https://www.instagram.com/tarjetitasconamorxgo/


What advice would you give to a younger you?

I would tell my younger self 'You are enough. You are brilliant, limitless, and loved. And stick up for yourself. Has lo que te da la gana!'







Shop BLatina

"I decided my experiences had a bigger purpose and my purpose is to help bring light to an intense movement of uniqueness and originality of Blatinas/ Afro-Latinas everywhere."

What's Your Name, Your Businesses Name, your location, and your age Please also include link to your shopable websites and instagram: Name: Shomara Garcia

Business name: Shop BLatina www.shopblatina.com

Location: online /miami based

Age: I’m 32 yrs old/ Shop BLatina is 3yrs old


When did you start your business and what inspired you? As a little girl, I was always told who I was and who I wasn’t based on the color of my: skin, hair texture, and the language I spoke. Not being accepted for who I was and constantly reminded of who I wasn’t based on society’s standards, I became frustrated by the consistent ignorance and lack of knowledge of Blatinas (even till this day). I decided my experiences had a bigger purpose and my purpose is to help bring light to an intense movement of uniqueness and originality of Blatinas/ Afro-Latinas everywhere. I am dedicated to educating and empowering everyone all around the world. I am here along with all of you to bring comfort in knowing people of Afro-Latina culture can be inspired and motivated to embrace who we are by sharing real stories, advice, and empowerment through apparel.

I am the BLatina with the Good Hair! Describe your business in 3 words Diverse, Positive, Dope

What challenges have you faced and overcome in your business/ creative project? What challenges are you still working on? I still come across different challenges. From starting my own business to educating others on who they are. When starting my business my first challenge was money. I did all the research and invested into myself to help develop personally, however I kept myself in the way of just getting started for a while. One day, I just made the jump. I didn’t have a lot of resources, however I just BLatina with the Good Hair out there. I have a lot of skills so I just put them to use and stayed consistent. I kept in mind that anything that comes too fast or too easy won’t last forever.

What are some of your proudest moments in business/ with your creative project? My brand has the popular “Born to an Immigrant” statement which stemmed from a strong campaign message on a t-shirt from my sister and father. My father had instilled deep roots of his Belizean culture into my sister and siblings that when after designing Latina Has No Skin Tone, my sister was like, “oh, you should make a shirt or bodysuit that says, Born to an Immigrant and share daddy’ crazy stories.”


What are some of your favorite creations/products? Please include pictures & link to product: Some of my favorite products are: Latina Has No Skin Tone long sleeve crop tops and fall sweaters:


As well as my Born to an Immigrant tops along with interviewing different key Latinas / Afro Latinas/ Caribbeans during Shutdown LIVE on Instagram each week.

What advice would you give to a younger you?

Let go and LET GOD!


Ex-Voto Design

"Every time I get an order (especially if I don’t know them!) feels like the proudest moment. It’s the best motivation when people use their hard earned dollars to buy something you made."



What's Your Name, Your Businesses Name, your location, and your age. Please also include link to your shopable websites and instagram Name: Leslie Gutierrez Saiz, Business Name: Ex-Voto Design Location: Los Angeles (Tongva Territory) Age: 45 WWW: www.exvotodesign.com INST: https://www.instagram.com/exvotodesign When did you start your business and what inspired you?

I started Ex-Voto Design in 1997, upon graduating from art college. Ex-Voto Design was my dba for freelance and passion projects. I knew I wanted a full time design career, but also knew I needed my own creative outlet. Ex-Voto Design has been that for me. Describe your business in 3 words

Chicana inspired flair What challenges have you faced and overcome in your business/ creative project?

I’m very hands on. Design, finances, production, shipping, social, it all gets done by me. Being a one woman show, I’ve found that diligently prioritizing my daily goals and deadlines as I would a large team does wonders for my productivity. What challenges are you still working on?

Learning and experimentation never end. Product can always improve, but I try not to get caught up in overthinking or second guessing myself. There’s always another version on the horizon, right?! What gets you through the rough patches in business and creativity? A cup of coffee and reminding myself that I'm in full control of my time and energy. I’m lucky to be able to create for myself and I try not to squander that. What are some of your greatest assets? What do you believe your specific voice, experience, humor, and individuality bring to our wide, vibrant, and diverse community?

I’ve always felt the lack of cultural representation in the arts and gift industries. Often if something was “latin” inspired, it was horribly kitschy. My goal has always been to create cultural product, with a contemporary Chicana aesthetic. What are some of your proudest moments in business/ with your creative project?

Every time I get an order (especially if I don’t know them!) feels like the proudest moment. It’s the best motivation when people use their hard earned dollars to buy something you made. What are some of your favorite creations/products? Please include pictures & link to product

I love enamel pins! There’s something about a 1” shiny wearable piece of art. https://www.exvotodesign.com/enamelpin I don’t think I ever got over my love of stickers. https://www.exvotodesign.com/stickers Newest obsession, washi tape. I love the planner/stationery space and look forward to creating/representing more Chicana flair there. https://www.exvotodesign.com/washi CURRENT FAV PRODUCTS:

https://www.exvotodesign.com/product-page/chicana-power-fist

https://www.exvotodesign.com/product-page/evd-washi-tape-mixed-pack

https://www.exvotodesign.com/product-page/pinches-keys-keychain

How valuable is rest in creativity?

Rest, turn off instagram, read a book, go outside. It’s all important to spark new creative energy. What drives you when you're feeling unmotivated?

I create vision boards, Pinterest boards, and google lists galore! After 20 years working for other brands, I have a backlog of self motivation to drive my creative goals! What are some of your ultimate goals with your business?

Ex-Voto Design’s Chicana inspired textiles, home decor, and exclusive collections at Target, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, and Nordstrom ;) … for starters. Who are some of your favorite latinx businesses, creatives, and artists? Who do you want more people to know about? (please give links if you got em)

Crafty Chica, immediately comes to mind. She’s one of the most generous and authentic examples of a Latina, supporting Latinas. Many Latina businesses look at their peers as competition. They don’t want you to know what vendors or products they use. But Kathy puts it all out there and genuinely wants Latinas to grow. She’ll teach you her crafty techniques, give encouraging advice, and tag you on social, with a smile! I’m personally encouraged and grateful to her. We’re all unique in our creativity and there is space for all of us to grow! https://craftychica.com

East2westpottery - https://www.instagram.com/east2westpottery/?hl=en

Garzi Design - https://www.instagram.com/garzigdesign/?hl=en

Hola Mijas Bonitas - https://www.instagram.com/holamijasbonitas/?hl=en

Cristal Gutiérrez - https://www.instagram.com/cristalgutierrezart/?hl=en What advice would you give to a younger you?

Show up, every day!

OuiOuiRemy

"My greatest assets are the craziness and sassiness of my brand. I have a lot of explicit, fun, ridiculous, and fun merch."




What's Your Name, Your Businesses Name, your location, and your age?

My name is Jeremy! I'm 22, I live in the Bronx, New York, and my business name is OUIOUIREMY! https://www.instagram.com/ouioui.remy/ https://www.ouiouiremy.com/

When did you start your business and what inspired you?

I started it in 2018! I was inspired by nostalgia, and the idea of just bringing fun novelties to life!

Describe your business in 3 words:

Nostalgic, Quirky, Cultural

What challenges have you faced and overcome in your business/ creative project?

Some challenges have been finding the right person to do my products! It's all been trial and error, but now I'm pretty satisfied with the factories I use for my shirts and products!

What challenges are you still working on?

Challenges....I'm trying to find ways to make even more products for the market in a way it hasn't been done before! Continuously!

What gets you through the rough patches in business and creativity?

The customers and seeing people wearing my stuff! It makes my day! I consider my customers friends, I've never had an issue with any customer and they're almost like my little family. They've all been so supportive since Day 1.

What are some of your greatest assets? What do you believe your specific voice, experience, humor, and individuality bring to our wide, vibrant, and diverse community?

My greatest assets are the craziness and sassiness of my brand. I have a lot of explicit, fun, ridiculous, and fun merch. There's this shirt that's my fave that I made that says 'Long P*ssyhair, don't care', and another shirt I made that says 'I'm not rude, I'm just B*tchy!' I love making shirts and things that turn heads, I'm so bored of seeing shirts that have just a slap of a basic text and brands selling it for $1000. I love to make fun, appealing merch that can be available to anyone's budget.

What are some of your proudest moments in business/ with your creative project?

Seeing people wearing my clothes! Just getting recognition for the artwork is everything.

What are some of your favorite creations/products? Please include pictures & link to product: https://www.ouiouiremy.com/shop/imnotrude?category=SHIRTS https://www.ouiouiremy.com/shop/longpussyhairdontcare-t-shirt-w4w2x?category=SHIRTS https://www.ouiouiremy.com/shop/selena-quintanilla-bustier-enamel-pin?category=PINS

How valuable is rest in creativity?

It's valuable because, if you stay up all the time and just stress yourself out, your product isn't going to come out the way it's supposed to. Sometime's its best to take a step back and think!

What drives you when you're feeling unmotivated?

The idea of making more products, merch, and so on for all communities to enjoy!

What are some of your ultimate goals with your business?

My further goals are to def take it farther! I want to expand constantly, team up with more brands, and maybe even go in different directions! KidRobot is such an inspiration, they're a company that teams up with all sorts of brands to create new merch for them in their style! I would love to do something like that someday.

Who are some of your favorite latinx businesses, creatives, and artists? Who do you want more people to know about? (please give links if you got em)

Some of my fave latinx businesses are HotSundae, she's such an amazing person and I love her headwraps! Same with Loquita Bath & Body! She makes the best bath bombs EVER. Such Hispanic Nostalgia.

What advice would you give to a younger you?

START EARLIER!

JLOVEKNITS

"I speak to them from the heart about the things that are important to me, and to them. I’m not afraid to speak on issues that matter like social injustice, environmental equity, etc."


What's Your Name, Your Businesses Name, your location, and your age Please also include link to your shoppable websites and instagram

My name is Jessica, (but I like to go by Jay) I own JLOVEKNITS,located in Ontario, Ca and I am 28 years old.

www.jloveknits.com @jloveknits


When did you start your business and what inspired you?

The womxn in my life are what inspired me. I grew up with a mom who came to the US from Guadalajara when she was just 15 years old. She was an entrepreneur and by her 30’s owned her own insurance company. To help her relax and manage her stress she would knit and crochet and taught me how to do so when I was young. In 2012-13 I began JLOVEKNITS to showcase my knitted goods and in 2018 I rebranded. I was inspired to rebrand and start this eco-friendly journey after reflecting on how much waste I had produced in one day alone. It began one day at work, I stared at my daily cup of store bought coffee and began to think about where that cup and straw would end up. Then came lunch time and wondered once again what would become those plastic sandwich bags.


I began to do my research on what happens to our waste, especially plastic and did not like what I found. I vowed to try and do my part to help reduce my waste production. As I began to shop online for eco-friendly alternatives I didn't like what I found and the craftiness in me knew there was something I could do. By the weekend I began to make my own reusable snack and sandwich bags. I find inspiration from those that I love, and the preservation of this planet.


Describe your business in 3 words

Eco-friendly, Functional, Fun


What challenges have you faced and overcome in your business/ creative project?

I’ve had to overcome many challenges but one of the biggest and most personal has been self doubt. At times I find it hard to set out of my comfort zone, I am an introvert and I more often than not get in my own way. I recently quit my 9-5 and while I could have done so much sooner, it was the fear of failing that kept me so unhappy working there and feeling overworked and burnt out when working for myself at JLOVEKNITS. Once I let go that fear I felt a weight had been lifted and my job performance for JLOVEKNITS has improved as has my mental health.


What challenges are you still working on?

I am still working on my mental health and learning how to take time to rest. I constantly feel like I have to be “productive” and be physically working on something. Although I have improved since working on my own full time, I have been able to set up a “work schedule” that has helped me feel comfort taking time to rest.


What gets you through the rough patches in business and creativity?

Honestly what gets me through the rough patches in business is my community. Watching my small business friends succeed, every time they launch a new collection, etc. it just makes me feel so happy for them and gives me the boost of encouragement I need when I see others win!


My customers are amazing and they feel like friends and having them reach out to express their love or excitement over my work definitely helps. I also enjoy taking time for myself, that means spending a day “out of the office” aka no social media. Creatively I like to take a break from the sewing machine when I am going through a creative block and use a different creative outlet to express myself. I’ll write, paint, or doodle. I have found that it helps me stop, step away from the sewing machine, take a breath or two, and bask in the things I enjoy. That's where my creativity recharges and comes alive.


What are some of your greatest assets? What do you believe your specific voice, experience, humor, and individuality bring to our wide, vibrant, and diverse community?


I believe my greatest asset is my ability to be myself with my community. To share with them not just the business side of things but to give them a bit of an inside look at me as the person.

I speak to them from the heart about the things that are important to me, and to them. I’m not afraid to speak on issues that matter like social injustice, environmental equity, etc.

I feel like my community gets to know me as the person behind the brand and we get to connect and those connections with them that I have made are the greatest assets ever!


What are some of your proudest moments in business/ with your creative project?

Some of my proudest moments have been the ones where I am able to use my skills to give back. Earlier this year when Australia was devastated by the fires I with the amazing help of my community was able to make and donate Joey pouches for the animals affected and displaced by the fires. Once the pandemic hit, I was also able to donate masks and have donated 5% all sales to different organizations.


What are some of your favorite creations/products? Please include pictures & link to product

My favorite products are anything from the VLM Collection


How valuable is rest in creativity?

Rest is the most valuable part of creativity. I find that when I take the time to rest that is when I am my most creative. While resting is what birthed most of my collections. Allowing yourself to take time from your mind and body is so vital and is quite often overlooked.





What drives you when you're feeling unmotivated?

When I feel unmotivated I like to remind myself that it is a part of the process. That it is okay to have moments or days where I lack motivation but I also like to remind myself why I am doing this. My “why” is what keeps me going. I remember how happy I feel when I do this work and it helps me to carry on.


What are some of your ultimate goals with your business?

Some of my ultimate goals are to continue to grow and bring awareness to my community on our environmental impact, helping them find small ways to help them live a more eco-friendly life. I want to continue to use my voice and platform to help my community. I want my business to be known for its compassion and passion on issues that matter.


Who are some of your favorite latinx businesses, creatives, and artists? Who do you want more people to know about? (please give links if you got em)

Here are some of my favorite latinx businesses, creatives/artists.


Veronica from @Artbyvery on IG, incorporates latinx culture into her beautiful artwork

@Monarcabox on IG www.monarcabox.com makes the most beautiful crocheted earrings

Wendy of @Pennypuede www.pennypuede.com is on a mission to spread empowerment through her clothing


What advice would you give to a younger you?

I would tell younger me that it’s okay to not follow the traditional post high school grad route. You don’t have to have it all figured out at 18, 25, or by whatever age your family or society thinks you should. Be gentle with yourself, be kind to yourself. Your dreams are wild and big as hell and scare others for a reason, because only YOU can dream and reach them.





Featured Posts