Digame is a monthly series featuring prominent Latinx leaders, activists, entrepreneurs, and public figures uplifting the community and making a difference.
Jennifer Zeano is the Mexican-American jefa behind the brand, JZD, a Latina empowerment apparel and accessories brand she launched in 2016 with her wife, Veronica. Motivated by the 2016 election, Jen wanted to send a message that would empower the Latinx community and her “Latina Power” tee did just that and it went viral. Celebs including Cristela Alonzo, Eva Longoria, and Jessica Alba wore the tee and quickly their brand became an emblem of poder for the community. They’ve since grown their product line to include hats, accessories, sweat suits, bags, and drinkware and all with the same message of empowerment.
Jennifer was born in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and immigrated to the U.S. when she was seven years old with her parents. She graduated from The University of Texas at Brownsville with a BA in psychology two years before launching JZD, initially selling coffee mugs she designed before creating their signature tee. Her parents also work for JZD and are staples on social along with Vero, where they’ve grown their Instagram following to more than 45K followers, a community she says is an integral part of the building of JZD.
Which Latina(s) have had the greatest impact on your life and why?
Every single Latina that has been a part of my journey has impacted me in some way. The grit and passion that we have for what we do in life is so intoxicating. From the fierceness in my grandmothers to the strength in my mom to the power in my friends, all these women have played a role in my life.
If you could meet a Latina icon who is no longer alive, who would it be and why?
Jenni Rivera. There are so many amazing Latina icons that I would love to chat with and learn from but if I had to pick just one it would be Jenni Rivera. Not only was she an icon in the entertainment industry but she was an entrepreneur and fierce woman who constantly pushed boundaries and lived her life fearlessly and authentically.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
NO PASA NADA. I live by this. I tend to be an anxious person so reminding myself that everything will be okay and believing it is such a game-changer for me. I know it seems easier said than done, but trusting the process and enjoying the ride, in my opinion, is the best way to live life.
If you could pursue a career in an industry other than your own, what would it be and why?
I actually have a degree in psychology so I think I would be doing something in that field. When I was younger, I wanted to be a marriage and family counselor!
Who was the first person to believe in your dreams/goals?
In life, my parents. I feel like the moment I was born my parents were already supporting everything I did. They are the most supportive people I’ve ever met, always cheering me on and reminding me that I can achieve my goals. In this business, Vero! She’s the first person I told about wanting to start JZD and the moment I told her she was on board and asking “when do we start?”
What do you wish more people understood about what you do?
This is a fun question! I think it would be amazing for more people to see the behind the scenes of what it takes to bring a product to life. This is why we love sharing the process on our social media accounts. We work on products for 9-16 months which makes every piece we release so special to us.
What motivates you?
My wife, family, and team are my biggest motivators. Running JZD is both the best thing I’ve ever done and the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it’s such a privilege to be able to do it with my family besides me.
How did you end up on the professional path you’re on now?
Honestly, I quit my job and knew that I wanted to start something of my own. I had no plan or direction. I actually started selling coffee mugs but once I created the Latina Power tee it all made sense. I felt like I had finally found something that sparked joy and so we became the Latina empowerment brand that we are today.
What is your greatest professional achievement so far? Personal achievement?
The biggest achievement has been getting our brand into a big box store! It’s so exciting to see our brand growing and to see other people discover our brand for the first time!
What is a goal you have that you haven’t accomplished yet and what are you doing to get closer to accomplishing it?
There are so many goals that we are working towards but I think the biggest one is to launch our brand into big box stores! We are learning to do things in new ways and building the foundation to be able to produce in larger quantities for big retailers.
What pop culture moment made you feel seen?
So many amazing moments have happened! The Shakira and JLO halftime show, the Bad Bunny albums, so many Latina-owned businesses making it big, it’s all been so amazing to see!!
How do you practice self-care?
Technology-free walks are by far my favorite way to take some time to relax and unwind.
Shoutout an Instagram account that could use more love and tell us why you’re a fan: @thesalvagedsawhorse because Jenn, the founder, is literally the kindest soul I’ve ever met.
Shoutout your favorite Latina owned business and why: OMG no way I can pick one! Here’s a few of my favorite Latina owned businesses: Vive Cosmetics, GRL Collective, El Cholo’s Kid, All For Ramon, Claudia Ramos Designs, The Salvaged Sawhorse, Wasi Clothing, Chic Influence, Reina Rebelde, Rizos Curls, Bloomi, Millenial Loteria, and so many more!!