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Open We Stand, Juntos Todo Se Puede

Five years ago, I had this crazy idea to start a blog. At the time, I was struggling with self-confidence and self-worth after having dropped out of grad school, feeling lost, wondering to myself “how can I be successful after this major decision?” I was working full-time at a company with not a lot of drive, craving to do something creative and that I was truly passionate about.

And, that’s how I started my blog La Divina Latina. I wasn’t confident people were going to want to read about I had to say, but I said, “you know what, let’s do it! Ponte las pilasand see where this goes.”

I took my first set of professional pictures with a series of looks I had curated. I wrote a blog about how I styled my outfits and where people could shop the apparel and accessories. It was the first step to many great accomplishments in my business as a blogger and content creator.

I know many other creatives and small business owners understand that feeling through their first sale, their first booking, and the first of many achievements as an entrepreneur.

Being of Mexican heritage is an important part of my identity and I am a huge fan of a lot of Latinx brands. I think there are so many talented Latinx designers whose work is going unnoticed and I love their designs. It’s part of my style.

Part of what I do has always been to advocate and amplify local small businesses. I’ve partnered with many Latinx and PoC entrepreneurs and made lasting relationships.

Now, more than ever, we need to continue to support local small businesses. I’ve been having online meetings and phone conversations with creatives and small business owners on how to adjust and shift their focus to online efforts.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve had partnerships fall through and I wanted to let the negative impact consume me. But, I wake up every day with purpose and drive even with the uncertainty. I’ve known struggle like many of my fellow entrepreneurs when they went chasing after a dream to start their own business and be their own boss.

And, I realized that we can still collaborate; we can still support each other. I’ve been blogging and creating content for over five years as my side hustle and work full-time in marketing. I know I have a wealth of knowledge to share with small business owners and creatives at this time with the economic impact of COVID-19. I know I can give back in this way and continue to amplify local small business owners who may have multiple questions on how to have their business stay open with social distancing.

I am thankful that GoDaddy is hosting a #OpenWeStand community forum through their microsite that is a free wealth of knowledge and open to small business entrepreneurs to come online and join the conversation.

It’s a space created where we can talk about creative solutions to your business, exchange ideas, gather feedback, build relationships and troubleshoot technical issues.

As a small business owner, you might be asking yourself questions on how to start a website or redesign it to adjust your business operations. Maybe you have questions about online marketing strategies like how to use social media and the different platforms available. Some of these will make a good fit for your business while others will not. And, it’s great to have feedback from other business owners or marketing industry professionals to help develop your business plan moving forward.

SEO marketing strategies can help drive your current and new customers to your business website. You might even be asking yourself, “What is SEO?” SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website by elevating its visibility to users through a web search engine.

This is critical for your business as it will help create brand awareness online of your business through these marketing tools at your disposal.

There are also different platforms online that can help you manage your business profiles from Google, Instagram, Facebook and others from one central place, which is extremely convenient. I love having a place where I can login and have access to everything for my website like creating blog posts, emails to my subscribers, viewing analytics, and making adjustments to my website. Having these tools gathered in one place allows you to maintain connection with your audience and customers with the ever-changing landscape of the online world.

It can be overwhelming to think about all the parts to consider when you’re shifting your business focus to online efforts, but if I can do it, you can do it. Don’t stop yourself by thinking you have to be a master web designer or know coding to have a website for your business or elevate your web design and features. And, there are plenty of free resources online to create branded content for your business to post on social media. You are passionate about what you do from the moment you turned that sign to “We’re Open”. You can still remain open. You can absolutely do it and you won’t be doing it alone.

Fellow small business entrepreneurs, marketing strategists, and creatives are joining the conversation at GoDaddy #OpenWeStand forum to share ideas and support each other. Rarely do we achieve anything in this life alone and together we stand open. Juntos todo se puede. Die pie y adelante.

La Divina Latina

This post was sponsored by GoDaddy, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Photography by Green T Media

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Be you. Do you. Love you. Solita Love Tips to get through V-Day.

Amor is in the air everywhere I look around. Literally, it’s throwing up Valentine’s Day in every drugstore, corner store, shopping center, you name it! And, I can’t help but stare at a big-eyed pink teddy bear I want gifted to me. The thought creeps into my head, “I wish I had a Valentine”, and I immediately turn away from the aisles of V-Day red chocolates, flower arrangements, cards, and balloons and tell myself, “I don’t need it!”

And, it’s true. I don’t need gifts as a validation of love. Of course, it’s nice to get presents from a loved one. It’s their way of saying they care about you, they love you, and they wanted to give you something you might like. And, there are many ways to show love besides gifts. But, if no one is going to buy me the damn pink bear, I’m going to buy it for myself!

And, that’s the type of attitude I strive for during holidays like this that are highly saturated with the celebration of romantic love. It’s important to celebrate other loving relationships beyond romantic ones like self-love, friendships, and family.

So, how do you survive V-Day solita? Here are some solita love tips.

Valentine shmalentine’s. Let’s celebrate Galentine’s!

Mark your calendar on Feb. 13th for Galentine’s Day! It’s the celebration of platonic friendships, usually among women. And, it’s a day where you can gather together with your friends and enjoy everything from brunch, drinks, or make it a party!

Celebrating other relationships in your life like friendships is important. So, what if you’re single? You’re single, but you’re not in a toxic relationship for the sake of being in one. And, if you’re in a relationship, it’s still a great way to honor your friendships by taking time to celebrate them through a Galentine’s get together.

If you’re in the Austin area, you can enjoy a Galentine’s Day Soirée with a GLAM BAR, personal boudoir photoshoot, cocktails, strip tease lessons, music, a burlesque show and more! Benefits will go to SAFE CARE AUSTIN; a campus based prevention and intervention service that provides safety for individuals and families affected by domestic violence, sexual assault and exploitation.

Treat V-Day as a self-care & self-love day

Self-love first is my motto all 2020 and moving forward. I remember being so hung up last year on finding the right guy and being in a relationship that I was the worst at practicing self-care and self-love.

So, if you’re solo on V-Day, guess what? There’s a lot of people who are and that’s okay. Make the day about you. Start your day with a self-love letter or positive affirmations you say out loud. Buy yourself flowers and put them as an arrangement in your home. Go see a movie, a concert, get your nails done, go dancing, or maybe stay in and order your favorite food and watch that Netflix series you’ve been meaning to catch-up on. You can pop open a bottle of your favorite wine, eat some strawberries, and put on your favorite beauty mask. Invite your bff over and make it a self-care day for the both of you!

Whatever self-care looks like for you, do that! You deserve it, Queen!

Buy yourself the damn bear!

I see it. I like it. I want it. I got it.

Seriously, if you see something on the V-Day aisles of the store, buy it for yourself. Don’t wait on someone else to get it for you. Treat yourself!

It’s perfectly okay to want something for Valentine’s Day. If you’re solita, you can always gift yourself that bear, chocolates, or whatever your heart desires. It doesn’t make you sad, pathetic, or whatever negative self-talk is roaming around in your head. Let’s move away from that mess and understand that we do not need gifts from others as a form of validation. You are worthy. You earn that paycheck and you can buy yourself whatever you want at any time. Even if you can’t go crazy because you’re on a budget, a little self-love gift is great.

Avoid it altogether and focus on other causes

You don’t have to do the whole Valentine, Galentine, celebration thing if you don’t want to. Did you know it’s Black History Month? Did you know it’s Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month?

There are plenty of causes to support in February that have nothing to do with Valentine’s Day. And, if you’re going to celebrate Valentine’s Day, it’s great to support local businesses, creatives, and artists when you’re thinking about gifting your loved one something. Consider taking them to a local family-owned restaurant and buying a Valentine card and gift from a local business.

Have a great February, chulas! And, remember every month is an opportunity to celebrate your loving relationships (including the one with yourself)!

XOXO

La Divina Latina

Photography by M Navarro Photography

Chula Tee by Hey Mijita

Latina Power Tee by Jen Zeano Designs

Heart Earrings by Shop Taby

Six Lessons from Real Women Have Curves

I recently revisited one of my all-time favorite movies starring America Ferrera, Real Women Have Curves. I was first introduced to this film back in high school, summer of my sophomore year by my prima. She recommended the film, hinting that I should be confident about my body, that my curves were something worth celebrating and embracing.

As a teen, I struggled with body image issues that continued into my adulthood. It didn’t matter if I was a size 10 or a size 22, I couldn’t see the beauty reflected in the mirror. It was pleasure to see this film again with a fresh set of eyes. I take away more from the film at age 31 than I did at 15. I do wish I would have started my journey to accepting my body in all its glorious splendor at an earlier age; it would have made a world of difference to me. At times, I would beat myself up about it. But, this is my journey and reaching this level of confidence is not easy. No one is perfect and there’s beauty in that; it makes us unique.

Here are the six lessons I took from Real Women Have Curves:

ana-dont-eat-flanana-eats-flan

1. Eat the Flan – Ana defiantly eats the delicious Mexican flan that her mom says will make her fatter. She tells Ana, she would look so beautiful if she lost weight. Ana’s stand-off with her mother reminds us that it is a personal choice regarding diet and meal choices. Often, people who have bigger bodies are ridiculed by family and strangers when eating in public spaces or gatherings. There’s the stares, the giggles, and the “You’re still hungry?” or “¿Otro plato, mija?” comments. I say, “Eat the flan girl!” You are allowed to enjoy this and you shouldn’t feel guilty. And, you can’t tell what a person’s health is like by their appearance or what’s on their plate. We are not privy to other people’s medical history, nor should we be. These are conversations that happen between the individual and their nutritionist or physician. Watch out for personal judgments and biases by those in the health professions. While they may have good intentions, there are many stories about bullying or harassment from physicians.

estela-gives-ana-dresspretty-dresses

2. Pretty Dresses Aren’t Just For Skinny Girls – Ana’s older sister, Estela, fashions a beautiful dress especially made for Ana. Ana stated earlier in the film that she admired the dresses they made in the atelier so much, but realized they weren’t meant for her, or more poignantly, they’re not meant for fat girls. If you love the dress, try it on, buy it, and rock it! There are many plus-size lines emerging with mad style. The fashion industry is taking note and making these fashionable pieces available to plus-size bodies.

jimmy-sees-ana-naked

3. Embrace Your Body – Ana makes a powerful move by showing her boyfriend, Jimmy, her naked body, full frontal with the lights on. “See, this is what I look like,” says Ana. There’s empowerment in seeing your naked body. You can stand in front of a mirror, your body in all its glory, and really take a look at the beauty in every curve, fold, or shape. Some women find empowerment in a boudoir photo shoot or strutting on the
beach in a new bikini. But, whatever the choice, do it at your comfort level and when it feels right for you. Remember that this your body, your choice.

real-womenwomen-naked

4. Form a Community of Women – Form a fat sisterhood! Ana decides to take off her clothes since it is so hot and sticky at the atelier. Her mother gasps, offended. Ana points out to her mother, “it’s just us ama!” Her sister Estela, and the other two seamstresses soon follow and strip off their clothes, unashamed to show their stretchmarks, cellulite, and lonjas. They feel comfortable and cheer each other on, poking fun at themselves, but quick to compliment each other. Who you surround yourself with is paramount. People who are overly judgmental and critical of others just might be talking about you behind your back. It’s the whole queen bee and wannabes of high school. That crap is so petty. Instead, surround yourself with women who are like you. Form a community of women that uplift each other, not a catty group that brings you down. Start a blog or online community, join a support group, read articles by body positive advocates, and watch movies that empower women.

5. Walk With Confidence – That’s the best outfit. There is much hate and criticism spewed on Ana by her mother, Carmen, but there is some good advice. Ana took what her mother said and either tossed it out or redefined its value. When her mother criticized her for walking sluggish like a pig, she also told Ana to “walk like a lady.” What does that mean? Well, for Ana, at the end of the film, it meant walking with confidence. It doesn’t matter if you’re a size 2 or 22, the energy you exude is what makes you radiate with beauty. The world is your catwalk, mija! Strut.

movie-title

6. All Women are Real Women – I struggle a bit with the title of this film. However, its message is empowering for curvy women. I read it as, real women are also women who have curves. I see it as inclusive, and I think ultimately that’s what the filmmakers intended. While real women have curves, real women are also slender, skinny, small butt, no butt, fat, flabby, short, tall, you name it. There are many body types and they are all worthy.

10 Latina-Owned Brands Holiday Gift Guide

Growing up in South Texas, the holidays have always been a special time with traditions like eating tamales, buñuelos, and drinking hot chocolate with my family. It means so much to me now more than ever because I live a six-hour drive away in Austin, TX. Every year I can see that my abuelita’s pace gets a little slower, and it reminds me of how precious this time is with my family. Passing down traditions and keeping our culture alive and thriving is critical when our country is facing divisive rhetoric not just from government leadership, but even people who are our neighbors.

I decided to shop local and POC-owned businesses this year to gift friends and family. And, I was compelled to create a Latina-Owned holiday gift guide of some of my favorite brands. It’s a way for me to uplift my hermanas by shopping with their business and sharing my knowledge on where to get this cool stuff, que esta con madre.

1. Hija de tu Madre

The denim chaquetas at Hija de tu Madre are stylish and go perfect for any season! Wear them in winter to stay warm and follow abuela’s golden rule y ponte una chaqueta! Two of my favorite designs are the Frida Kahlo and Sirena Trucker Jacket. But, there are so many bright and colorful designs like the Virgentcita Jacket and the Baila Esta Cumbia Bomber Jacket (It’s Selena Approved♥).

Make sure you load up your cart with a Concha Phone Case & Latina Necklace while shopping. Mira que pretty! And, for the Latina boss and entrepreneur, get the Make Jefa Moves Notebook Set. I particularly love the “You’re doing great mija” notebook! Jefa goals!

2. Jen Zeano Designs

One of the most iconic Latina boss tees, worn by Gina Rodriguez, is the Latina Power tee at Jean Zeano Designs. And, it also comes in a sueter! Stay calm and calientita with your new suetersito. But, I bet you didn’t know that the Latina tee also comes in kids sizes para la bebe and your young poderosa!

They’ve also got some really great beanies to match with your new sueter cause one is the loneliest number and two is obviously better than one.

And, if you’re looking for an array of inspiring Latina tees, Jen Zeano has 28! Check me out in the Sentimental Pero Chingona Tee and the Not Your Mamacita Tee. Pa que sepan!

Photographer: Anais Cruz for Jen Zeano Designs ( @anaisalesya – https://www.instagram.com/anaisalesya/)

3. Las Ofrendas

If you ever had a dream about your perfect floral crown, Las Ofrendas can make that dream come true. I love my mermaid corona! Living out my sirena dreams!  You can shop one of these floral crowns by following lasofrendas to visit the next pop-up shop or marketplace event. Also, visit the Etsy shop to snag some amazing hand-made jewelry and cards. Send your love through a Selena or Frida Kahlo card!

4. Hustle for the Cause

I cannot rave enough about Hustle for the Cause! They strive to create cultural awareness and empower women, POC, and LGBTQ communities through their events like Chingona Fest Texas and their products. “Every product and event developed by Hustle for the Cause is tied to a philanthropic initiative . We’re passionate about social change, so we hustle for the cause.” To read more about their mission and story, visit their site. Also, shop their online products like the Chingona Power beanie and Hustle and Be Chingona Sweatshirt. 

Be on the lookout for Chingona Fest Texas updates and ticket sales by subscribing to Hustle for the Cause. I’ll see you next year at Chingona Fest April 6, 2019! Welcome to Tejas my hermananas from Cali, Nueva York, Florida, and anywhere in the world. Bienvenidas!

5. Soni Trends

Soni trends has the hook-up when you need a shirt to go with your mood. I love my “Me Vale” tee, which gives me all the poderosa vibes. And, check me out in this cute Chula, Chingona, y Comelona tee! This tee is 100% accurate.

And, who doesn’t love a good mug to drink up your cafecito or champurrado! Que rico! My picks are the Viva La Vida and Bidi Bidi Bom Bom Mug.

6. !Sin Faja¡

I don’t think I have ever been this excited about a new upcoming brand than this one. From their Instagram, “A brand that is funny, fearless and lonja loving! Created by a plus-size Latina for everyone!” Yes! You read right! Created by a self-loving, proudly titled, plus-size Latina that is rooting for all of you! It’s hard to pick one I love the most, but one of my favorite items is the “Comadres Over Competition” tee.

The message is clear and one that I fervently believe in. Often in our community, Latinas are pitted against each other as if there is no room for everyone to be successful, shine, and have a voice. When one rises, we all rise.

And, I love this Sin Faja Hoodie! It’s okay to have lonjas and not wear fajas. And, it’s okay if you do wear fajas. Your body, your choice. And, remember all lonjas are good lonjas.

7. GRL Collective

What better way to empower girls and women than through education. GRL Collective is a Latina-owned brand that gives a portion of every sale to fund girls education in India. As a Latina, I find that empowering women and girls around the world is essential to our growth. When marginalized groups come together and support each other, amazing things happen.

And, I am really feelin’ these pom pom earrings! I have these beautiful pair of flamingo earrings named after Flora Patencio and gold palma earrings named after Nellie Coffman. A pair that I have been eyeing is the Alexandrias named after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Goals.

8. Lys Santamaria Artist

Y arriba mis hermanas de Colombia! From her bio, Lys writes, “I was born in Colombia and grew up in Canada and the United States. While in Canada, the First Nations people shared their traditional beading techniques with me. Since then, I have been painting with beads by embroidering thousands of tiny beads into fabric to create 2D artwork, sculpture and jewelry. ”

I met Lys while shopping the mercado at Chingona Fest Texas 2018. I went by her booth and immediately fell in love with her work! I present to you the holy trinidad: Selena, Frida, and Celia. My enamel pins go perfectly with my denim chaqueta from Hija de tu Madre. See what I did there? I love combining my Latina brands together to create an epic look and the most Chingona wardrobe.

You can shop her art, pins, earrings, and other beautifully craft pieces online.

9. Garzig Design

I’ve petitioned that Angel’s image appear next to the word Chingona in Webster’s Dictionary in print and online because she is a total badass. Facts. The stickers are mad cool! The Body by Conchas sticker currently decorates my laptop so peeps know I have no shame in my concha-game. And, who can resist the Anything 4 You Selena Sticker Set!

If you’re in the Austin and surrounding areas, you can shop Garzig designs in person! Make sure to follow this mujer valiente on Instagram for the next pop-up location.

10. Enxcreative

Artist and brand owner Elizabeth Núñez-Xoconoxtle creates amazing Dia de los Muertos inspired merch with iconic Latina figures as Selena, Frida, Celia and more! I absolutely love the velitas, mugs, and stickers! I am a proud owner of the Selena mug and pins! They make my heart go Bidi Bidi Bom Bom!

Be sure to follow Enxcreative and see where they pop-up next!

These are just some Latina-owned brands to shop for the holidays. Drop a brand name in the comments that you would love give a shout-out!

This blog is not sponsored or endorsed by the above mentioned brands. I would inform you as a reader if it was. I just love sharing my knowledge of Latina brands that I know you’ll love too! Happy shopping at these tienditas!

Miss Shelo

IG: @miss.shelo

I dressed like Selena for a week and this is what happened

I’ve been gordita all my life and I was bullied growing up. I found myself playing make believe at an early age that I was like Selena Quintanilla Perez. I remember dancing to Selena y Los Dinos songs in my room as a little Tejanita with hair brush in hand, boom box blasting Como La Flor.  I would tell myself that one day I was going be like her and that my life would be very different. I just had to wait until I was older and skinnier. Well, I got older and fatter. And, for a long time I hated my body. I hated myself.

I was twenty-seven when I started modeling and it helped build up my confidence. But, I found that after three years of modeling, I still had a lot of work to do on the inside. Taking pretty pictures doesn’t fix everything, it doesn’t make you hurt less. You can only see yourself differently when you change your perspective. Now let’s make something clear, body positivity and self-love are two different things. Being body positive is political and self-love is the individual journey. Here is a brilliant article that eloquently describes it better than I can.

While my belief surrounding fat people and our rights to live freely and happily, including myself, changed, I was still working on my personal journey to self-love. Something that I learned through body positivity was the right to wear what I want despite my weight, body shape, size, height, etc. When Selena’s birthday month rolled around on April 2018, I told myself I was going to pay homage to the Queen of Tejano by recreating some of her most iconic looks. For so long, I thought I couldn’t be one of those super fans that could dress like her because I am not Selena’s body type. Then, I remembered that Selena was a curvy woman. She would have wanted me and so many of her fans to live authentically and embrace the beauty that we are inside and out.

selena quote

And, what happened was magical! The Selena series resonated for many people who follow me on social media, in my opinion, because it felt like the most authentic in a way, a Tejana representing a Tejana. And, that’s powerful.

I thought I could never pull off that purple jumpsuit.  And, I was scared of that low-cut top that showed my bra. It reminded me of that unforgettable scene from Selena, the movie, where her dad, Mr. Quintanilla, played by Edward James Olmos, was like “busti-caca de la menta! Es un bra!” It’s like that in our culture. You get shamed for what you wear as a woman, a plus-size Latina at that because people tell you that you’re too gordita for that, and that’s just caca to be honest.

For a week, leading up to Selena’s birthday on April 16th, I dressed like Selena to challenge this ingrained belief that gorditas can’t wear certain things, but also to show myself that I look damn good doing it too! Sheer tops, bustiers, pleather, midriff showing, you don’t have to cover up because you are a woman or because you’re fat like me. I get to decide what I wear, when, and where.

I strutted my way to the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX for a special screening of the movie Selena on her birthday in my purple jumpsuit ready for my finale. We sang along, took pictures with Selena look-alikes, ate pepperoni pizza, shook our maracas, did the washing machine move, and sang happy birthday to Selena while the room was lit with candles in honor of La Reina.

 

Miss.Shelo

IG: @miss.shelo

Photography: Tommy Kim at tommykim.net