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Selva Negra

What motivated your decision to focus on “ethical fashion”, and what does it mean for both the community and the planet as a whole?

After moving to Los Angeles, we started working with the people in production and wanted to ensure that they were being paid fair wages. Coming from immigrant families, we understood the struggle our parents went through to provide a better life and allow us to seek out a job in fashion design. Being a part of a close-knit family and community in NY & LA, it was important for us to align our brand with our core values as members of our community.

Después de mudarse a Los Ángeles, nosotras empezamos a trabajar con la gente en producción y queríamos asegurarnos de que se les pagara un salario justo. Viniendo de familias inmigrantes, entendimos la lucha por la que pasaron nuestros padres para darnos una mejor vida y nos permitió buscar un trabajo en el diseño de moda. Siendo parte de una familia y comunidad unida en NY y LA, era importante para nosotras alinear nuestra marca con nuestros valores fundamentales como miembros de nuestra comunidad.

Why was it important for you to produce your clothing locally?

Not only did we want to be closer to the product to ensure quality pieces, but we also truly enjoy working with the people who make our clothes. Being close with our community and supporting individuals who align with our values is one of the most important pieces to Selva Negra.

No sólo queríamos estar más cerca del producto para garantizar piezas de calidad, sino que también disfrutamos realmente trabajando con las personas que hacen nuestra ropa. Estar cerca de nuestra comunidad y apoyar a las personas que se alinean con nuestros valores es una de las piezas más importantes de Selva Negra.

What does Hispanic Heritage Month personally mean to you?

I spent a lot of my life surrounded by communities that didn’t look like me and always wanted to blend into being an “American”. Moving into adulthood, I became more proud and less ashamed of who I was and where I come from. Hispanic Heritage Month means celebrating my culture, my family, my values, and the very nature of who I am. It means fighting for our community just like my ancestor did, and ensuring our culture is represented in America.

Pasé mucha de mi vida rodeada de comunidades que no se parecían a mí y siempre quise mezclarme para ser una “Americana”. Al entrar en la edad adulta, me sentía más orgullosa y menos avergonzada de quién era y de dónde vengo. El Mes de la Herencia Hispana significa celebrar mi cultura, mi familia, mis valores y la naturaleza misma de quien soy. Significa luchar por nuestra comunidad como lo hicieron mis antepasados, asegurar que nuestra cultura está representada en los Estados Unidos.

How has your heritage influenced or inspired your work?

I am inspired by the colorful nature of my motherland and the closeness of my family. My grandmother taught me how to knit, my grandfather worked at a shoe factory, and I think it was in my blood to continue their craft.

Me inspira la naturaleza de mi patria y la cercanía de mi familia. Mi abuela me enseñó a tejer y mi abuelo trabajó en una fábrica de zapatos. Creo que está en mi sangre continuar su oficio.

Can you describe the type of community you've built so far and how you stay connected and involved with them?

We’ve helped build a small design community here in LA consisting of garment workers, designers, freelancers, and business owners. We are always keeping in contact via social media or e-mail these days, but pre-COVID we were always meeting up through events, pop-ups, dinners, and/or cocktail hour.

Hemos ayudado a construir una pequeña comunidad de diseño aquí en Los Ángeles que consiste en trabajadores de costura, diseñadores, trabajadores independientes, y dueños de negocios. Siempre estamos en contacto por redes sociales o correo electrónico en estos días, pero antes de COVID siempre nos reunimos en eventos, pop-ups, cenas, y/o hora de cóctel.

What are some challenges or advantages you’ve encountered being a Hispanic women-owned and led business?

It’s been a challenge to build a business starting out with just $200. When we had to produce our first collection, we were able to raise $2k through family and friends which we attribute to our generous community. From there, it’s tough to stand out in an overtly crowded space. However, the uniqueness of our design aesthetic, our understanding of a woman’s body, our core values, and what we represent is how we’ve been able to stand out.

Ha sido un desafío construir un negocio a partir de solo $200. Cuando tuvimos que producir nuestra primera colección, pudimos recaudar $2k a través de la familia y amigos que atribuimos a nuestra comunidad generosa. Desde allí, es difícil destacar en un espacio lleno de gente. Sin embargo, nuestra estética de diseño único, nuestra comprensión del cuerpo de una mujer, nuestros valores fundamentales y lo que representamos es cómo hemos podido destacar.

What is your ultimate goal as far as the type of impact you want to have on your community?

We want to be a positive representation for young Latinx designers and show that this type of career is possible for people like us. Our goal is to set a standard for fashion brands to be held accountable for paying fair wages, utilize sustainable practices, and continue shed a positive light on the fashion industry.

Queremos ser una representación positiva para los jóvenes diseñadores latinx y demostrar que este tipo de carrera es posible para personas como nosotras. Nuestro objetivo es establecer un estándar para que las marcas de moda sean responsables por pagar salarios justos, utilizar prácticas

Who are some of your Hispanic and Latinx influences, both in business and otherwise?

We are both huge fans of Mexican architect, Luis Barragan, and find that our aesthetics are heavily inspired by his work.

Somos grandes fans del arquitecto mexicano, Luis Barragan. Encontramos que nuestra estética está fuertemente inspirada en su trabajo.