Culture

Brittany Chavez Wants You to Shop Latinx

We caught up with the founder and CEO of Shop Latinx on the business behind niche platforms and the benefits of slowing down.

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Without having a traditional background in business, Brittany Chavez built Shop Latinx from the ground up out of necessity for Latinx businesses resources. Originally a marketplace, Shop Latinx is a platform that amplifies Latinx creatives, businesses, artists and designers. This past spring, Chavez continued to explore storytelling through social media, as she created beauty-centric platform Our Paradiso which caters to a community of beauty lovers and brands.

Read ahead to see how Chavez balances being a CEO and just an average girl.

Can you tell me about yourself and your upbringing?

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. My mom is Guatemalan and my dad is Nicaraguan. I grew up all around LA, but mostly around the San Fernando Valley and Pomona area. My background in terms of work is very unconventional. I’ve been everything from an Uber driver to a nanny before starting Shop Latinx.

Have you always had pride in your heritage?

No, I grew up with a lot of shame. I’m actually unpacking this in therapy (laughs). I grew up with a lot of white kids so there was this longing to be white. It wasn’t until 2016 that I started to really celebrate my heritage, which is when I also started to develop Shop Latinx that now allows me to see the beauty in my culture.

Why did you start Shop Latinx?

I created Shop Latinx in 2016, it was also the height Trump’s presidential election and there was a lot of anti-Latino rhetoric being spewed. I don’t know why I did, but I opened up my laptop and then started looking up Latino businesses to support and there weren’t many resources out there. So, Shop Latinx was created out of my own need to support Latino businesses. But also, beyond supporting Latinx businesses, I wanted to find products that resonate with my lifestyle and meet these owners and support them. Everything kind of fell into place.

This past May you launched Our Paradiso, the beauty and wellness concept shop of Shop Latinx, what was your decision to stop this beauty vertical?

There was a lot of research that went into the launch and creation of Our Paradiso. Latinas outspend in every single beauty category yet, over 50% of Latinas feel that they aren’t accurately represented in the beauty industry. The statistics were overwhelmingly in our favor for a concept like Our Paradiso. I was talking to Sephora, Barneys and beauty brands and I got so much information but a lot of beauty retailers are shutting down right now because the margins aren’t in our favor.

Eventually my New York apartment became a storage facility. I was the person that would pack and ship the orders and, on top of being the CEO, I wore so many hats. At the end of the day I was trying to build something and was getting perpetually burnt out. A world where Latinx beauty is cultivated and celebrated is one that should exist, but I am not the person to take that on alone.

How do you navigate being a CEO and Founder?

So, I was never introduced to business at a young age and my first introduction to business was the world of venture capital, which is very white, ambitious and masculine. To be a venture backed company, Shop Latinx raised around $1 million USD from venture capitalists. Their goal is to make the companies they invest in to be acquired or go public on the stock market. It wasn’t until recently that I took a pause and was like wait – I don’t want to be a billion dollar company, I want to do things on my own terms. So, I’ve pivoted to focusing on Shop Latinx as a community centric platform.

How do you unwind?

Girl, I get out of the city. I’ve been talking to friends this week, and I’m like, “Can we just normalize normalcy?” I don’t want to be a girl boss, I don’t want to do things for the accolades, I don’t want to do things because it “looks good.” I want to take all my hats off and go hug a f*****g tree, you know? Calling my mom, hanging out with my boyfriend, all those things help me unwind and it allows me to show up for my Shop Latinx team. I think it’s important to separate your identity from your work.

Do you have any advice for other Latinx entrepreneurs?

Take the time to think about what success means to you.

What is the future of Shop Latinx?

We laid down the foundation for the brand and these next years continue to be a content hub that just puts dope people onto small businesses, designers, DJs, you name it. Most importantly our focus is on refining who our target audiences are and it’s definitely this next generation of entrepreneurs and lovers of culture.

This interview has been condensed for clarity.

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