For the past 15 years I have worked for international and local non-profits, as an organizer and advocate for youth and community development. As a youth development specialist I've worked with marginalized communities in directing media arts programs, leadership development and activism trainings. During college and high school I worked in retail, restaurants and bars. Currently, I serve as Deputy Director for Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights. This is my resume in a nutshell (you can view my LinkedIn Profile here).
I'm sharing this with you because launching Muchacha Power is a big leap for me. I worked on the design as a hobby, a project to empower my daughter and me in the face of media mainstreams that didn't include us. I remember feeling less than when I was 5 because I didn't have a certain look or skin color. And I didn't want my daughters to feel that way. I needed her to know that she and I are powerful, even when we don't feel it.
I worked with a few different designers to get the Muchacha Power logo just right. I spent time learning about who makes t-shirts in our little town of Cabarete, Dominican Republic. I toured a zona-franca along the border, had a friend pick up unused fabrics from a factory in La Vega, and tried to teach myself how to sew. I did this all while meeting work deadlines, nursing my infant and chasing my toddler. I'll have to write another post about what taking a project like this does for a marriage another time.
We had a family trip to New York and England planed for the end of June. That was my deadline to have my mock-ups. Our flight was scheduled for June 17 at 10am and I received my first batch of shirts on June 16 at 4pm. So off we went to NYC to see my mom, handle a few work meetings and hang-out with friends before heading to the UK to visit my husband's family.
In seeing my dear friends, I gave them samples of the shirt, often times one for them and one for their daughter to try out. They all told me they loved them and my ego was having a blast! I still didn't have a business plan or how I was planning on selling them, I didn't even have a price list. My non-profit side just wanted as many girls and women feeling strong in these shirts. My husband and business friends reminded me that it cost me (and my family) money to make them.
During our time in the UK, a close friend posted a photo of her daughter in the Muchacha Power toddler tank. Within hours I had over 30 requests about the shirt and how to order. I'm forever grateful for this incredible jump start, and I didn't want to loose interest or momentum (gracias Mino!).
However, I didn't yet have all my merchandize ready or my distribution. I quickly created a shopify account and sent a few links around for people to pre-order. Thank you to LatinasThinkBIG and a few of my mommy groups for the extra support.
So here I am. Finalizing my next order. Creating a few new items like the MuchachaPower Onesie and V-neck cuts. I'm also still trying to figure out how best to get the shirts from the DR to the US and even Europe, without making them too expensive. I'm also fighting the urge to gift the shirts as right now all the money into making Muchacha Power, is coming from my savings.
I'm still learning as I go. I'm still excited to get Muchacha Power to as many people as possible. And while I'd love to make this more than a side hustle, I'm more interested in making sure as many little girls and their mama's know how bold, brave y fuerte they are.
If you are reading this and can help a sister out with start-up funds, marketing, web design or even photos of the shirt let me know. We'd love to have you join our little start-up.