Fierce Boss Ladies

Latinxs Are The Largest Growing Demographic Of Small Business Owners, She’s One Of Them

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.

Read: Maryland Police Officer Arrested And Charged For Allegedly Raping An Undocumented Latina

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This Is How This Mexican Mom From Oaxaca Is Running Successful Mole And Michelada Businesses


This Is How This Mexican Mom From Oaxaca Is Running Successful Mole And Michelada Businesses

Bricia Lopez is am an entrepreneur who is helping her family’s business thrive. It was in the early 1990’s that Bricia, then only 10 years old, moved with her family from Oaxaca, Mexico to Los Angeles. Her father, Fernando, had a dream and a goal of providing Oaxacan Angelenos a taste of home with his restaurant Guelaguetza. Now housed in the first Korean-styled building in Koreatown (according to Bricia), Guelaguetza is still thriving under the management of Fernando’s children including Bricia. They handle the day-to-day operations of Guelaguetza as well as their own Oaxacan-inspired online businesses Mole And More, I Love Micheladas, Super Mamas Podcast, and their very own online store I Love Mole. Bricia sat down with mitú to talk about what it means to be in charge of a restaurant catering to regional food and becoming a boss-level woman in the hyper competitive food industry.

Tucked away in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, you’ll find Guelaguetza, an authentic Oaxacan-themed restaurant that has been thriving for more than 20 years.

Christina Henderson

“People from Oaxaca have a very specific relationship to food where food is your life. Everything surrounds food. Family, celebration, death, everything has to do with food,” Mexican-born restauranteur Bricia Lopez told mitú. “

[Guelaguetza] is our home and we serve the food that we grew up with. It’s not fancy food. It’s not fusion food. It’s not new Californian food. It’s not new Mexican food. It’s not innovative. It’s just traditional food that I grew up eating, just very high quality. So, that’s how the menu of the restaurant was inspired. Just foods that we grew up eating off the road [in Oaxaca]. Everything you find here at the restaurant is what you can find in Oaxaca.”

The restaurant has been passed down from founder and father Fernando Lopez to his children. Bricia said that the transfer of power left her with a stunning message from her father about the benefits of being a woman and a boss.

Christina Henderson

Bricia admitted to mitú that when she first took charge of the restaurant, she was often looked as the “daughter of” Fernando. She longed to be seen as the boss and she asked her father for help getting that respect since he is the one who started the restaurant. His response? He told her she would have to work for it.

“He told me, ‘I wish I was a woman because you guys have so much power,'” Bricia recalled to mitú.

Christina Henderson

Bricia continued: “He said, ‘You guys are so much smarter than us. You guys just have so much more ability and can also be so nurturing. You need to understand that what you have is very powerful. As a woman you are ahead of every man that you meet. So you need to understand that it’s a plus. You need to learn how to navigate your womanhood and take advantage of it and earn people’s trust. I can’t give you that.’”

Bricia also learned that it was important to treat employees as family, which she says comes naturally to her.

Christina Henderson

To Bricia, taking charge of the restaurant meant embracing all the employees as her family because all of them are working to a common goal: the success of Guelaguetza.

Bricia shared that very early on, she learned that success to her is all about being purpose-driven.

Christina Henderson

“Understand why you are doing everything that you do. When you are purpose-driven, it is not about the to-do list,” Bricia told mitú. “It is about achieving a bigger thing that can get ten things out of the way. It’s about deciding if this thing that you are doing is taking you a step into your purpose or away from it and if it is taking me away from it, then why am I bothering with it.”

Bricia argues that it is not enough to just set a to-do list and just do them because you think they need to be done. What has helped her succeed is making sure that everything she has been doing had the result of taking her closer to her purpose and goal.

This purpose-driven, just do it attitude has translated into the Lopez children launching a handful of online businesses that were born out of Guelaguetza.

Christina Henderson

Guelaguetza and the Lopez siblings are helping to bring Oaxacan flavors and culture to people across the country from mole to micheladas to Oaxacan clothing (in the Koreatown restaurant). Bricia told mitú that it was a no-brainer to sell their products online to fans and Oaxacan expatriates living in the U.S.

“We just did it,” Bricia told mitú about launching their online store.

Christina Henderson

“We Googled everything and found out how to do things,” Bricia told mitú. “I feel like so many times people make things more complicated than they should be. Like, it’s not that complicated. People were asking us for the micheladas. We’ve been serving the micheladas since we opened. People would come in and ask if they could buy the mix from us so we would fill up empty tequila bottles and sell them and they would come back every weekend. By then, we had opened our online store where we shipped our mole so we started thinking about what else we could sell in our store.” That’s when I Love Micheladas was born.

As a mother, Bricia understands that sometimes things can get pretty hectic, but that should never stop you from achieving your dreams.

Christina Henderson

“I think for mothers, the number one thing is to understand that it’s okay to ask for help,” Bricia advises for any mother looking to start or grow their own business. “Latinas, especially moms, feel like because their moms raised four kids as immigrants with nothing and they cooked every day. I honestly don’t know how they did it. We feel like we have to do the same thing, we can’t complain, we can’t have these issues, and we can’t feel pain or ask for help because we have to be able to do everything by ourselves, which is not true. We need to remember that our moms who were able to do all that have a community around them of primas, of support.”

“You need to understand that you need to take care of yourself first and then you can take care of everyone else,” Bricia said of being a mom and a businesswoman.

Christina Henderson

“You just need to find whatever makes you happy and do whatever make you feel a little selfish and look to take care of yourself because when you’re happy, your family will be happy,” Bricia continued about being a mom and entrepreneur. “A lot of moms don’t do that. Latina moms don’t take care of themselves. It’s like, first is my baby, then it’s my husband, then are my friends, then it’s my business, then there’s this, and at the bottom of all of this, is me. What kind of mother are you going to be if you put yourself last? What kind of wife are you going to be if you make yourself last? What kind of friend are you going to be if you put yourself last?”

READ: This Latina Wasn’t Going To Become Another Starving Artist So She Built An Empire Using Social Media

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