Photo: Courtesy Brittany Chavez
Lifestyle

Meet the Latina Behind Shop Latinx: An Online Marketplace For & By Us

It’s been three years in the works and today Brittany Chavez is officially launching Shop Latinx, the first e-commerce marketplace for Latinx-owned businesses. In 2016 she began building the company from the ground up feeling a need for Latinx representation in the wake of the presidential election when racist rhetoric and political tensions affected the Latinx community directly. But beyond developing a sense of unity, she also saw an opportunity to tap into the projected $1.7 trillion buying power Latinx in the U.S. have. “I noticed marginalized communities mobilized to create tangible ways of supporting their own — especially economically,” she tells HipLatina.

Shop Latinx gives Latinx direct access to products for and by Latinx, simultaneously empowering Latinx business owners especially Latinas, who own 44 percent of Latinx businesses. With nearly 40k followers on Instagram and #shoplatinx used more than 50k times even before its launch, it’s clear there are consumers eagerly awaiting what Chavez has put together. With such a strong social media following, she initially launched the first U.S. small Latinx business directory with 900 registered businesses in 2017 because she says she searched for anything — even a listicle — and couldn’t find any for Latinx brands. In the past three years, she’s hosted business workshops, hosted mercados and built relationships with consumers and businesses to establish herself in the business world. The 28-year-old Guatemalan and Nicaraguan entrepreneur studied journalism before dropping out and worked as a rideshare driver and nanny while building Shop Latinx into what it is now. As someone who dreams big and knows about the hustle, she initially announced the marketplace would launch with 70 Latinx brands. She soon realized it was better to start small in order to conduct research, conduct development, and take in customer feedback. As a result, she decided on seven established Latinx brands.

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“These are seven companies that really set the bar when it comes to branding, marketing, product sales, pricing product volume, and quality. [All] are brands I look up to because of the intention they put into everything they make,” Chavez says. “That’s what I want Shop Latinx to be known for: Beautiful, culturally relevant, one-of-a-kind products that just so happen to be made by Latinx.”

The dream hasn’t come without challenges, namely lack of finances and stability and she worked round the clock to build the marketplace from the ground up. As a founder of color, she also mentioned the lack of access to resources saying she had to go out of her way to find guidance because it’s “not marketed to us.” She joined an accelerator program based in Los Angeles called Grid 110 and worked with Sergio Villasenor, the founder of web platform Elliot (which hosts Shop Latinx) and she says that’s how she was able to put together the marketplace and ready it for launch time.

She’s also giving back to fellow entrepreneurs of color through Las Jefas Crew, a group she established with Julissa Prado of Rizos Curls and Patty Delgado of Hija de tu Madre. The trio provides resources and host workshops to educate business owners and provide the guidance they lacked as they build their own brands. “Each of us have respectively self-funded our own brands that have generated impact in the Latinx community, and we want to teach underrepresented founders that with the right tools, they can too. Las Jefas Crew is our way of bringing accessibility of education that is designed with women like us in mind,” she adds.

Chavez says Shop Latinx customers can expect a seamless checkout process, quality and culturally resonant products, and more announcements in 2020. As three years of hard work finally come together, she’s grateful for taking the risk despite her uncertainty. “These past three years have been worth it, and I’m just so excited about all the future possibilities of Shop Latinx,” she says.

Shop Latinx officially launches, Wednesday, November 20. Read on to discover the Latinx brands featured on Shop Latinx and learn more about what each business provides.

Hija de tu Madre

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Founder Patty Delgado launched Hija de tu Madre for the modern Latina. It embraces cultural references including La Virgencita and Frida Kahlo on jackets. She then expanded with the bandera collection with flags from countries in Latin America including Puerto Rico, Mexico, and El Salvador. Now she has a whole line of Los Angeles-themed products, a jewelry collection, and tees. “Aside from Patty being my friend, I admire her as a business woman, and the brand she’s created. It’s timeless and authentic, and Hija De Tu Madre really captures the essence of what it means to be a multicultural Latina. Patty puts so much thought into her designs, the product packaging, the brand messaging, and customer service. Hija De Tu Madre is her full-time job, so she’s constantly coming up with ways to expand her reach, we want to be an additional sales funnel for her. And we know she can keep up with the demand,” Chavez says.

Brujita Skincare

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Leah Guerrero regularly visited Mexico City mercados and with more than ten years of experience as an esthetician in holistic skincare, she created Brujita Skincare in 2017.  The holistic skincare line features sustainable, raw, organic, and unrefined ingredients, many mineral-rich clays and powders sourced from Mexico City. The line includes hydrosols, facial masks, cremas, scrubs and balms ranging from $15 to $30.

House of Intuition

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Meet the founders:⠀ ⠀ If you’re based in L.A., then you’ve probably been to House of Intuition. ⠀ ⠀ In 2010, Marlene Vargas and Alex Naranjo together opened the first HOI, a metaphysical store dedicated to helping people achieve healing, transformation, and empowerment. After each experiencing a period of loss and transformation in 2007, they were led to find their spiritual paths, and each other. ⠀ ⠀ On the road to recovery, they relied heavily on spiritual practices to bring healing, perspective and light into their lives. They dreamt about creating a space that could provide tools to empower others in the same way. A few years later, HOI was born. From humble beginnings as a small shop selling crystals and candles, to their now 7 chic locations around the greater Los Angeles area, they have truly discovered the only limit to what they can create, is how big they can dream. 🔮⠀ ⠀ We’re thrilled to have these incredible folx in our Shop Latinx marketplace. ✨ ⠀ ⠀ #ShopLatinx// 🎨 @smugmorenita

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Marlene Vargas and Alex Naranjo developed House of Intuition to help people in their healing and spiritual journey. Their services include Tarot readings, astrology charts, and readings, and other spiritual readings as well as intuitive counseling, and products including candles, crystals, and incense. Their healing services include Reiki, Middle Pillar healing, Shamanic energy medicine, chakra balancing, crystal healing, and sacred well healing.

Peralta Project

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New York native and Afro-Dominican artist M. Tony Peralta founded lifestyle brand Peralta Project, a mixture of old New York, Hip Hop, and Latino Culture. His art pieces are owned by Junot Diaz, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Swizz Beats and his wife Alicia Keys, among other high profile figures and his piece “Celia Con Rolo”  was exhibited at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in D.C. The clothing includes Afro-Latina and bruja artwork, as well as reina, chula, and morena emblazoned on tees and sweatshirts ranging from $20 to $50. “M. Tony Peralta is someone I’ve admired for a very long time. Shop Latinx wrote about him back when we were a directory and editorial platform in 2017 and he’s just been so supportive of us ever since,” she says. “He is very much a tastemaker in this community and the designs he makes are so innovative. The quality of his pieces are high-end, and they’re products worth investing in. Every day Tony is playing around with different mediums of artistic expression. These are the types of people I want to provide a platform to.”

El Cholos Kid

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San Diego-based Daisy Romero works with Mexican weavers to create quality woven Oaxaca bags made of recycled plastic. For ten years she’s been providing bags in three different sizes in multiple colors, in addition to clear and white ranging from $42 to $62.

Voz Collective

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Voz Collective is a Guatemalan-owned jewelry brand that specializes in hand-painted wood with bright-colored geometric pieces. They sell necklaces, earrings, and bracelets that are bold and bright statement pieces ranging from $12 to $78.

America Hates Us

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Co-founded by Tareq Brown, America Hates Us launched in 2016 with two objectives: to be revolutionary and to serve as an economic conduit for organizations already fighting marginalized communities. They are comprised of a team of Black and Afro-Latinx members AND 20 percent of their proceeds go toward organizations that share their mission. They have pins and tees that feature statement tees with phrases including “Believe Women,” “Slap your Local Racist,” and an outline of Frida’s face with a flower crown ranging from $4 to $60.