Today we’d like to introduce you to Carina Lopez.
Carina, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Woah! Latinas are more than #LatinaSexy. That is what I thought when I did a quick search for the word Latina on social media. I couldn’t find the right representation for the empowered, multidimensional Latina professional so I started my own. Power Latina Shop was born at the junction between being upset for the lack of positive representation, and a passion for design and functional aesthetics as an engineer.
I am known to be a charismatic emerging Latina leader in the Houston community. With deep roots in the Caribbean, having been born and raised by hardworking Dominican parents in Puerto Rico, I quickly learned the power of education and the value of investing in development. After $20,000 in scholarships and a degree from Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, I now enjoy a successful career in the oil and gas industry.
Which led to becoming a licensed, environmental engineer by trade, and online boutique designer. I started the online boutique in Dominican Republic. Because of work, last year I was rotating out of Bolivia which meant working on a drilling rig for 21 days and being off 21 days. On a trip back home to Dominican Republic, I started going to town and picking out fabric for my outfits. Then I reached out to who became my first manufacturer, and she created the original line of skirts which I launched in 2018.
Working in this industry, I have also learned the value of diversity and that as a Latina, we don’t have to mimic someone else but powerfully embrace our uniqueness and fully bring it to the table. I then created the second type of skirts which are knee length and are perfect for work as we own our diversity through a physical statement.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Not at all. As I mentioned, I started outsourcing the manufacturing in Dominican Republic, and while I am committed to creating jobs for Latina manufacturers, it was really hard to control the quality control process from a distance. While working on a drilling rig, I had the time to travel to Dominican Republic back and forth at a consistent rate. Now that I am back to normal working hours and in the US, I had to find a better solution to outsourcing so I expanded to local Houston Latina partners which gave me a higher control over quality control and communication to make sure the final products match the vision for the design.
I have learned that it is all part of the process. Another one is the challenge of being an online store. People trust people they know. It’s hard to build that trust without a storefront so I work with well renowned Latina influencers. That first time you get an order from someone who is not your friend or family it’s just a feeling I will never forget and a sign you are on the right path despite initial struggles.
Power Latina Shop – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Power Latina Shop is the first mission-based, clothing brand designed by a Latina engineer.
I provide powerful confidence and a physical reflection of the Latina uniqueness through one of a kind, flattering, ready to wear skirts.
How did I create an Impactful Business? Top 3 Unique Components
Design – as I said, I have a passion for functional design since I am Engineer. I carefully pick and curate the best, durable and flowy fabrics, whether that is Hollandaise cotton or twill. My designs have gone through various iterations, leading to the most optimal solution which is: metal gold zipper, pockets! (Yes, friends, pockets!), elastic so that it moves with you, plus the right knee or ankle length based on your size. You are UNIQUE and so should be what you wear.
Manufacturing – A lot of people think I am sewing the pieces myself, which in reality I am creating multiple jobs for Latina manufacturing partners which either have this as a main source of income or see it as a retirement option (See picture).
Next generation – Driven by the scholarship support I received as a STEM student, I also contribute to the next generation of empowered Latinas by donating 10% of sales to the creation of scholarships for the advancement of Latina students and in business as part of the Power on Heels Fund, Inc. organization, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit from Houston, Texas in which I also serves as a Board Member.
I am proud of the fact I am creating a source of income for hardworking, Latina women while empowering women and investing to the next generation by scholarships. That social impact makes all it all worthy.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
The main criteria are reliability, quality, and ability to execute on a vision. You would think it’s straight forward to find Latina women to manufacture your designs. Let me tell you – no. That’s not how it works. Sometimes it is hard to find high-quality partners that deliver your vision on time which is critical for when you are starting out, so when I found my reliable team, I kept it.
Which leads to success and to finally find that winning design where you start private labeling (see picture) it’s exciting. I focus on seamless stitching, quality by sourcing a metal/gold color zipper, flexibility by having elastic at the waistband, as well as branding materials reflective of the brand when shipping.
Recently, I was a panelist at the only Latina Entrepreneurship conference (Spanish) in the US: Biz Net Latina, in Orlando FL. I am thankful to be at a point where I can share knowledge on what works and what doesn’t that might help guide another ambitious Latina out there and that is also a measure of success.
Finally, as an online store owner, it is critical to have customer-created content. With the power of social media, it’s also encouraging when someone does not know you come back and leaves that review either on the Facebook page or my website. I have had even spouses leave reviews for gifts they made to their wives!
That is how I know I have achieved success. I created a unique product with social impact that my customers value so highly that they publicly post about it on Instagram and leave positive online reviews. That is success!
- Unique Long Bohemian Handmade Skirt – $74.99
- Unique Knee Length Handmade Skirt – $74.99
- EXCLUSIVE DESIGN for Biz Net Latina – $69.99
- Afro Latina Collection Skirts – $47.99 to $69.99
- Afro Latina Tank Top – $24.99
- Asertiva Not Bossy Latina Tank Top – $24.99
- Website: www.powerlatinashop.com
- Phone: 832-426-2400
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/powerlatinashop/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/powerlatina/
- Other: https://www.pinterest.com/powerlatina/
Ilse Gonzalez | Connect Media Firm, Maria Duran | Duran Concepts, Steven Robinson | Robinson Photography, Christian Rivera