Latina lifestyle apparel brand, Viva La Bonita, allows Latinas to express who they are through what they wear. The brand is driven by, and suited for, the women who are fearless, confident and proud to be themselves with t-shirts that read “Mujeres Can Do Anything,” “Never Underestimate El Poder De La Mujer,” and “Fierce Like Frida.”
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“Bonita is the spirit of the women I grew up around, they weren’t always all done-up and perfect, but they were always full of love. Self-love is key. You have to love yourself, trust yourself. That’s when you shine, and you radiate."
It strives to be inclusive to all Latinas, or anyone that can relate to and appreciate the culture. Founder, Rachel Gomez, grew up in a Mexican-American home in Pacoima, Los Angeles, during the 90’s. She was surrounded by acrylics, gold jewelry, big hair and a style that was street chic. Her most major influences were her mom and her aunt, who would toss on baseball caps over large curls and always paired their outfits with sneakers. “Bonita is the spirit of the women I grew up around, they weren’t always all done-up and perfect, but they were always full of love. Self-love is key. You have to love yourself, trust yourself. That’s when you shine, and you radiate,” Rachel said. And to develop the brand, Rachel had to trust herself. She began her career in fashion by styling women in the radio industry, where she discovered the lack of Latina streetwear. She wanted clothing that allowed women to identify with their Latina culture and found none in the stores or online. So, she decided to create her own.
When she first began pitching the idea, she was hit with significant pushback. Friends, teachers and critics alike would tell her that the concept wasn’t relevant, that it didn’t make sense and that there wasn’t a market for it.
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Growing up in a household that proudly spoke Spanglish meant that Rachel’s Spanish wasn’t always as lightning fast as some of her peers. She often felt judged by those she thought would mentor her and as she pitched her idea, these judgments seemed to resurface again. Close friends and colleagues would tell her that she was “trying too hard to be Latina,” and that she “wasn’t even that Mexican.” She didn’t understand their mindset or thought process, and she didn’t want to. Luckily, she would soon find a team of bonitas that would support her. What began as a school entrance project titled Kulture.LA turned into a full-fledged brand. They launched their first product: a customizable baseball tee that allowed buyers to input a word and number of choice on the back, on Black Friday about four years ago. She took a page out of her aunt and mother’s book by balancing a cool and casual style with elements of fashion in her designs and made t-shirts a staple piece in her clothing line, instead of an afterthought. As the word ‘bonita’ became more prevalent in her designs, the brand began to hashtag the phrase, “Viva La Bonita,” until one day, Rachel realized that this needed to be the name of the business.
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She rebranded the company from Kulture.LA to Viva La Bonita and through hard work and dedication, the brand has continued to gain momentum with Rachel and her team—which consists of her fiancé and close family—constantly learning new things along the way. “I want to inspire people to know that it is okay to make a difference and change your brand. If you build it, they will come. If your customers believe in your concept and brand, they will support it,” Rachel said. And they did. Now with over 31,000 Instagram followers, the brand is garnering attention, but more than that it is building a community. Her customers are proud, like Rachel is, to rep apparel that stands for something.
Recently, Rachel even started taking pictures of her customers wearing their Bonita fits. The women’s happiness and love of the brand radiate out of the photos, providing an air of authenticity that social media is often lacking.
Viva La Bonita aims to capture the look on people’s faces when they are doing something they love, which for Rachel, is the essence of real beauty. “You could be eating your favorite taco and your whole persona changes. Your vibe, your frequency changes to happiness,” Rachel said before taking a pause. “It sounds cliché, but I love tacos. I could eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” she laughed. “The clothes will make you feel Bonita.”
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Given her love of tacos, community, and fashion, it comes as no surprise that this Bonita boss came up with a pop-up shop, appropriately deemed “Tacos and Chill,” that focused less on asking people to buy the clothes and more on giving them a feel for the brand. The event featured free tacos, free beers and machichi from I Love Micheladas, and music spun by DJ LaLa with an ample amount of la Reina Selena thrown in the mix, of course. You can expect another Tacos and Chill with a bigger event space and the same backyard-party vibes before the end of this year. Exclusive apparel pieces for the pop-up shop are in the works, as well.
"We are the roses that grew from concrete."
The brand is also shooting part two of their fall collection, which is built upon the phrase, “We are the roses that grew from concrete.” “The world can make you feel like you are stuck in one place like it’s where you belong… I’m only gonna push harder when you push me down,” Rachel said. “I hope that message continues to spread to whoever feels discouraged. You are going to get there. Your timing will be different from everyone else’s, but if you keep pushing you will break through.”
Her story, her brand and her newest collection seek to remind all of us that when negativity tries to bury us, to remember that we’re seeds. (She even printed the Mexican proverb on this t-shirt so that you won’t forget it). To purchase the legendary tops with vintage styles visit vivalabonita.bigcartel.com.