When it comes to the entrepreneurs leading our country in terms of starting businesses, Latinxs hold the prize and Latinas in particular wear the big pants. In fact, today’s Latinas, who account for 44% of all Latinx-owned businesses, have proven to be a crucial aspect of the creation of new companies. According to Stanford Business Insights, from 2007 to 2015, Latinas started contributed to the creation of nearly half of all new Latinx-owned businesses. It’s a growth that continues to go unmatched by any other demographic of women entrepreneurs in the United States.
Elena Flores and her business Sew Bonita are prime examples of the unprecedented impact that Latina entrepreneurs make.
A self-described Chingona, Flores says that she always wanted to utilize her creativity in a meaningful way. After making the decision to pursue her own enterprise, she deep dived into the world of entrepreneurship by creating a cupcake business out of her house. It didn’t take long for Flores to identify she’d become burnt out with the practical vision of her business’s future and direction, and she soon looked to a new creative outlet.
Flores’ late mother always wanted to teach her to sew but it never came to pass. Eventually, she began to teach herself to sew, finding the passion she was lacking in her previous business. When her husband of six years gifted Flores her very first sewing machine, she knew she was ready to pursue her new dream.
Flores turned her hobby in her own business; becoming the owner and creative behind Sew Bonita. Started in November of 2014, the Texas-based business specializes in clothing, apparel, and home goods with a cool Chicana vibe. Her website also features her personal blog Chingona Chisme— a blog full of observations, news, and editorials about Latina living.
Growing up in the border town of Eagle Pass, Texas, Flores was surrounded by the sights, sounds, and inspiration of Mexico. Now, with her business located in the hometown of Tejano music queen Selena Quintanilla, Flores continues to find herself energized by Corpus Christi’s Latinx community. It’s these interactions that now color the creations featured on Sew Bonita.
In an interview with FIERCE about her latest business, Flores says she believes “in living a colorful and vibrant life. The things I make for Sew Bonita reflect that belief.”
It’s with this belief in mind that Flores designs and crafts her products.
Whether they’re sporting images of original Loteria cards, Chigona-positive slogans or homages to the OG Chigona, Frida Kahlo, Flores’s products are fashion forward and Latina influenced. Hand sewn bags, aprons and patchwork dog leashes inspired by her four fur babies are made using bold and unusual prints. Hip hats, colorful pencils also make up her distinctive collection.
Flores’ unique designs come straight from her imagination but are brought to life by her husband Gerald. A graphic artist by trade, he also has his own fashion line, Taco Gear, dedicated to his love of tacos. With his artistic and business backgrounds, Gerald is able to support his wife’s dreams on both an emotional and professional level.
“He’s a graphic designer, and gives my ideas life,” Flores tells FIERCE. “Plus he’s a huge supporter. Having a creative partner just makes this so much better.”
With so much support coming from her community in regards to her own dreams, it’s no wonder that Flores would want to support those of the creative mujeres that surround her. In addition to her own crafts and clothing, Sew Bonita features items from other creative Latinas. Earrings, pillowcases, bags, and keychains created by Latina artists from Oaxaca, Mexico are also available through Sew Bonita.
Flores understands the importance of lifting up other women through the privilege she carries as an entrepreneur. “I always buy from near and far vendors,” she admits. “I love supporting other brands because I wholeheartedly believe when one grows, we all grow. There’s enough sunshine for everybody.”
For Flores, connecting with other local artists and business owners is just as fulfilling as it is creative
“Sewing has opened up a ton of doors for me, and I’ve made a ton of new friends,” she explains. “I’ve loved every minute of it.”
It was with this outlook that Flores started her Small Business Saturday Pop Up Shop. Bringing together over 20 local women artisans and vendors, the pop-up shop capitalizes on Small Business Saturday. Held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, this nationwide event encourages spending at small businesses only on this day during the busiest shopping period of the year.
The first year Flores hosted the event, which was last year, it was a huge success. This year, she’s decided to another scheduled on Nov. 24. Her hope is to ensure that it has just as many incredible women-owned businesses as last year. Though Flores’ event introduces small businesses to a whole new batch of consumers, that’s not its only benefit.
This year’s Small Business Saturday Pop Up Shop will support women all over the city of Corpus Christi as well. The event will benefit the Corpus Christi chapter of Period, a nonprofit organization that provides support, supplies, advocacy and education concerning menstruation.
Between featuring female creatives on her website, supporting women-based non-profits and organizing women-owned businesses, Flores and Sew Bonita undoubtedly stand for the advancement and growth of women. This is especially evident to Flores as she continues to explain what she wants Sew Bonita to become known for.
“I want [customers] to think of me as a friend, sister, prima. I stand with them in solidarity, and I want them to feel empowered,” Flores shares. “Sew Bonita is a positive and fun brand with a kick of fierceness. And I want women to feel like that. They are capable of anything, and [of] accomplishing any goal!”
In the meantime, Sew Bonita’s potential is as limitless as Flores’ bright and creative imagination.
In the near future, she plans to expand her product line to also include hand-sewn skirts made with the same vibrant material and Mexicana influences as her other crafted creations.
“I’m just gonna keep sewing, keep creating, keep supporting and keep hustling,” Flores says.
Elena Flores and her company Sew Bonita are an example of what happens when Latinas use our Latinidad, passion, and culture as influences in our work. We could all benefit from more businesses imitating Flores’s approach to showing up for women and supporting causes that benefit our communities. With so many Latinas choosing to become entrepreneurs, we can only hope that they follow Sew Bonita’s crafty lead.