Fierce

These Sisters Built The Country’s First 100% Ethically Made Business All For Their Brother

All For Ramon was born out of two sisters’ desires to honor their brother’s life.

When Rocio and Diana Ramon’s brother Juan was diagnosed with cancer, the two sisters had to step up to the plate and fill his shoes in helping with the family business. Ultimately their willingness to help their family and show up for their brother led them to a path of entrepreneurship.

After Rocio and Diana Ramon’s brother Juan was diagnosed with brain cancer their father came to them to ask for help.

At the time, the sisters’ father went to Rocio and asked her if she would be willing to take on their brother’s role at the company, who had been highly involved in the business. “I always dreamt of coming to help [my dad] at the factory,” Rocio told FIERCE in the latest episode of “Las Jefas.”

While of course, working for her family had always been her dream, Rocio explained that initially, her work was far from ideal. After all, she’d just lost her brother, and before he had passed away, he’d built up quite a reputation for himself. Rocio says, that expectations for her work were high and when she started working she was pretty much thrown to the wolves.

The wolves being the male-dominated environment in which our brother had been in charge of.

“In this industry, it’s male-dominant so I was here young and a woman so men would come here and see me they would look at me and be like ‘what are you doing here?’” Rocio told us during her interview, before going on to explain that she was ready for this kind of challenge. “I’m like ‘Yes! I’m the boss. This Latina girl is gonna tell you what to do, so you’re gonna have to listen.”

With so much work on her plate, Rocio says that when her younger sister offered to come and help her, she was thrilled.

Diana, who joined the company after her brother’s death to help Rocio says that she came to the decision to work at the factory out of a desire to help and also to grow. “I came to the decision that I had to make a sacrifice to put all of my mind in my creativity– to something that I knew was going to flourish and blossom into something beautiful and I had this dream to do something big,”

Eventually, Rocio and Diana Ramon went on to build their own brand.

The two are now the two founders of the first clothing brand to manufacture designs and clothing that are 100% ethically handmade in the U.S.

“I had just this dream to do something big, so I decided to continue this beautiful journey with All For Ramon with my sister because I know that its something beautiful because I have so much pride in it. “

The clothing brand, which specializes in tie-dye tees, relies on policies and a culture that is strongly rooted in their family values and appreciation of the American dream.

“What I say [about All For Ramon] is bueno, bonito, and ethical because being ethical and transparent is what we learned,” Rocio says before her sister adds that “Quality is not just an expecation it’s the rule for us.”

Today, the two sisters can agree that All For Ramon is more than just a clothing brand to them. Diana says that when it comes to every choice that they make they consider their brother Juan. “Everything that we do for this brand, from choosing the fabrics to picking out the colors, from developing what we’re going to develop in the future it’s like ‘okay what would my brother think about this?'”

While focusing on building their eco-friendly brand, the two sisters have a dream to inspire others as well.

“We want to highlight and educate to Latinos that [they] deserve quality,” says Diana. And when it comes to giving advice to Latinas. Their joint message is clear. “Now’s the time for you to shine and you can shine girl. Shine.”

Revista Étnica Is The New Afro-Latino Magazine Gassing Up Our Afrolatinidad All The Way From Puerto Rico

Entertainment

Revista Étnica Is The New Afro-Latino Magazine Gassing Up Our Afrolatinidad All The Way From Puerto Rico

Since Gloriann Sacha Antonetty Lebrón was a child growing up in Carolina, Puerto Rico, she has been fascinated by journalism. She was captivated by the colorful glossies of Cosmopolitan and Revista Tú that sat on the shelves of local drug stores. She wanted to read about the latest beauty and fashion and be on top of entertainment and cultural news from Latin America and the United States. But more than this, she desired to be seen, to have glamorous and powerful Black women that resembled the matriarchs in her own family cover the magazines.

“I never had the opportunity here in Puerto Rico to see Black people, and Black women in particular, in magazines,” Lebrón told mitú. “None of them represented the beauty of my family, my friends, my community or myself.”

As a teenager, Lebrón’s father, who was raised in New York, introduced her to popular African-American publications geared toward women.

 While magazines like Ebony and Essence weren’t yet available in Puerto Rico, her father would have friends mail the glossy or bring them back from trips in order for Lebrón to have access to images and stories of women who looked like her. The unnecessary struggle it took for her to see herself represented in media and the joyous feeling she felt while flipping through page after page of enchanting dark-skinned women inspired Lebrón to one day start her own magazine in Puerto Rico specifically for Afro-Latina women.

In December of 2018, Lebrón’s teenage dreams came true.

 The now 38-year-old communications professional launched Revista Étnica, the first print magazine in Puerto Rico to represent the Caribbean archipelago’s vast and diverse Afro-Latinx population.

“Our community is marginalized. If you have dark skin, you generally don’t have an opportunity to feel like you belong and are a part of this society. We are only good for food, music and sports, and that’s something we want to change,” she said.

Through the biannual magazine, Étnica’s three-person staff and group of collaborators produce a stunning publication that covers beauty, fashion, entertainment, food and culture as well as investigative journalism that looks into the deep-rooted, and largely denied, racism that exists in Puerto Rico. 

In the first issue, writer Edmy Ayala delves into the racial disparities that exist on the archipelago and how the state works to protect the rights and uplift the talents of lighter-skinned Boricuas. 

The second volume, which published in August, features an essay that examines racism in Puerto Rico’s public school system, looking particularly at the ways in which codes of conduct target and punish Black youth. 

“Right now, it’s more critical than ever to be having these conversations,” Lebrón says. “Here, we understand that we are a mix. We are mestizos, with a rich culture that includes our Spanish heritage, Taíno heritage and, less important, our African heritage. Many use this to claim we are all the same here, that racism doesn’t exist. But me being a Black Puerto Rican woman, a young Black person, I can tell you that I struggle every day and experience racism in so many ways.”

This bigotry was particularly evident for Lebrón when she first attempted to launch Revista Étnica. In her mid-20s, she submitted a proposal for the publication in a contest and was one of the finalists. At the time, she was assigned a mentor who would help her work through her proposition and advise her on steps she could take to realize her project. A leading journalist in Puerto Rico, Lebrón was thrilled to have the guidance of an esteemed figure as she pursued her ambitions. That’s why she felt completely discouraged when the male leader suggested that her magazine would fail. 

“He said, ‘people in Puerto Rico don’t want to identify as Black,’” Lebrón recalls. “I started to believe that the magazine wasn’t important, and it took away my dream.”

Disheartened, Lebrón went on to start a different career in media, working in advertising and public relations. In this industry, she was once again confronted by anti-blackness in Puerto Rico. Few brands and companies put Black Boricuas in their ads, catered to Afro-Puerto Rican communities or even hired dark-skinned employees. 

After taking a job as the director of communications for a local nonprofit that put her in direct contact with Puerto Rican youth, Lebrón was reminded of the importance of representation. During each visit with boys and girls across the archipelago, Black children would race to Lebrón, excited to engage with a powerful leader who looked like them.

“I’d tell them, ‘you are beautiful and intelligent,’ and I would see the light in their eyes. I knew I had to do Étnica.”

A decade after Lebrón submitted her proposal for her dream publication, she entered the contest again and became a finalist once more. This time, she won a social enterprise award, which allowed her to fund the first issue of her magazine.

Today, Revista Étnica is available for purchase at Walgreens and Walmarts across Puerto Rico as well as some local shops in the metropolitan area. Through the magazine’s website, readers can order copies from all over the world. Lebrón says she has subscribers from the United States, Dominican Republic, Colombia, and even Switzerland. Additionally, the publication’s site and social media include a blog and content that offers insight and opinions on more timely news.

For Lebrón, Revista Étnica is more than a magazine; it’s also a community and a movement. 

Throughout the year, the publication hosts events, from parties to movie-watching groups, and has recently also launched a start-up program for Afro-Puerto Rican entrepreneurs. She says that her company’s success isn’t measured by its magazine sales but rather by how it can help create economic security for the Black community in Puerto Rico more broadly.

While materializing her wildest childhood fantasies has been both joyous and frightening, she says that ultimately this magazine and this movement is much bigger than her alone.

“I just want women who read Étnica to feel proud of their skin, their body, their imperfections. I want them to know there is a community with them, that they’re not alone,” Lebrón says.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Many Brands Have Missed The Mark But A Few Have Done It Right

Culture

Hispanic Heritage Month: Many Brands Have Missed The Mark But A Few Have Done It Right

US Army Africa / Flickr

Hispanic Heritage Month is here again: it runs from September 15 to October 15 this year. The celebration of Latinidad in the US was made official when in 1968 president Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law “National Hispanic Heritage Week.” Set to begin on September 15, the week celebrated the independence of a few Latin American countries including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile. The celebration is great and perhaps originally con las mejores intenciones, but it errs in grouping a whole continent’s diversity into a single group. But well, peor es nada. 

So let’s be positive and see the glass half full. These four weeks are a great opportunity to celebrate our Latino roots. Many brands also see this month as a chance to connect with the Latino market, which is a profitable and expanding demographic in the United States. However, and this is a huge “but”, sometimes marketing people try a bit too hard to connect and end up with messy campaigns that end up just perpetuating damaging stereotypes. For every good idea there seem to be three or four that just miss the mark. 

Hey, here’s a job idea: cultural adviser! Let’s change the ratio and have most brands understand the values and issues we really care about

Credit: gabbyzapata / Instagram

Being aware of what Latinos think and want is key in the highly competitive US market, as Claudia Romo Edelman wrote in AdAge: “Hispanics by more than two to one (68 percent) feel their values are shared by other Americans. And those values are vital: family, work, education, and security for themselves and particularly for their children. They still believe in the American dream (69 percent), saying overwhelmingly that if you work hard you will get ahead (80 percent or greater across generations). Yet, barely half (54 percent) say they see their values reflected by major brands, similar to the number for media and pop culture (55 percent)”. Ouch! This speaks volumes about the lack of a true understanding of how fundamental the Latino market is for any business. 

Because some gringos just don’t get it, like Coffee-Mate branding something as Latino by adding flavors that no one associates with un rico cafecito

Credit: Digital image. Nestle marketing campaign

First of all, it is not a tradition to add Chocolate Abuelita or Lechera to your coffee. We mean, some people might do it, but it is not widespread. Second of all, what on Earth is your “inner Latino”? This campaign is just plain terrible. As Sue writesin the blog Phglesbian.com: “What the hell are you going to do to honor Black History Month? ‘Inner sassy black woman?’ What about Pride Month? ‘Inner queen? Touch your inner lesbian?’ This is a fail, Nestle, and Americans of Hispanic descent deserve better. Maybe you need to cough up some donations from a campaign that’s already on the shelves to help undo the damage”. Yes, queen!

Coffee-Mate, you are just digging a deeper grave for yourself! Yes, all Latinos are salsa-dancing sex-crazed hombres y mujeres…

Credit: Digital image. Nestle marketing campaign

Seriously, WTAF. They did just went there: sexualizing Latino culture is one of the cardinal sins of cultural appropriation and harmful stereotyping. 

And of course, Twitter got up on arms.

Credit: @artistmarclax / @cafenowhere / Twitter

We had never put the famous abuelita and the notion of a Latin lover together…. nothing against older adult intimacy… but just don’t, OK, just don’t. 

But… but… margaritas must contain tequila, right?

Credit: @Sobieski_Vodka / Twitter

Even a very inexperienced bartender or any tío organizing a carne asada knows that a margarita is made with lime juice, crushed ice, salt, and tequila, right? Well, apparently not, at least according to Sobieski vodka. Yes, according to this brand you can replace the very Mexican tequila, which has a denomination of origin, with vodka. First of all, vodka and tequila taste nothing alike. Second… why?

Bringing together family and war.

Credit: US Marines. Promotional campaign

Yes, there are many Latinos who proudly serve in the US military. However, it is a bit tricky to try to appeal to a certain particular demographic by appealing to the emotional connection that most Latinos feel to the notion of family. This is a sort of positive pat on the back that, however, is very complex given the huge life decision that enrolling in the military entails for soldiers and families. This is a borderline case of marketing that does speak to Latino values but simplifies a very intricate issue. 

Dear Macy’s, you could at least get the grammar right, perhaps?

Credit: 1567029508_HHM-Type (1). Digital image. Macy’s

Macy’s understands the importance of the Latino market not only because of local customers but also due to the huge amounts of tourists from Latin America that shop in their stores. It is all good… but they could do better with their campaign copy. “Unidos en cultura” makes no sense at all! Perhaps they meant “Unidos por la cultura”? The English slogan is “United by Culture”, so the translation feels like a half-hearted effort to appeal to “ethnic customers” (really, that is how gringo marketing lingo describes us!). Really, it is not that hard, we are sure that you have at least 50 bilingual, Spanish-speaking staff in your offices, so please do better next time. 

So to do it right why not get… I don’t know… actual Latinos to be part of the creative team? That’s what Nike did with the Los Primeros collection!

Credit: f6zulwr0fvmehebpfdb7. Digital image. Nike.

What a great way to create collection kicks while really digging deep into the Latin American soul. Nike describes this collection as follows “Honoring Latino Heritage Month, Los Primeros showcases distinct cultural expressions from four Latin American artists’ ancestry atop four iconic Nike silhouettes”. We don’t want to be puritans and say that international brands cannot celebrate Latino identity, but it is better if they do it right. Exactly what Nike did. This is the One Heart version of the classic Cortez sneaker, and it was created by Chilean artist Inti following patterns from indigenous textile art. That is how things are done, acknowledging that half of our Latino heritage derives from the proud original owners of the land that is now the American Continent. 

And look at this amazingly weird but very Latino fashion statement.

Credit: wvndm0ug4y1oehwiza71. Digital image. Nike

Few sneakers are as iconic as Air Jordans, and these beauties are decorated by Brazilian artist Pomb, a sensation in the street art world of Sao Paolo. Can we just get a pair already? We could totally rock this with a cool Mitú t-shirt!

Coca-Cola is a marketing genius… but have they done more harm than good to Latino communities?

Credit: hispanic-heritage-month-28-07PM-copy-604-337-dfbf7803.rendition.584.326. Digital image. Coca-Cola.

There is no denying that Coca-Cola has created one of the smartest and most memorable marketing campaigns in history. For Hispanic Heritage Month, they have created promotions that include creating personalized cans and bottles with Latino last names, as well as cans with temporary tattoos celebrating Latino identity. However, Coca-Cola has been linked to high rates of obesity, particularly child obesity, in countries like Mexico. We mean, celebrating a culture involves the general well being of society at large, right? 

READ: Vandals Destroyed A Hispanic Heritage Month Mural At Duke University And Here’s How Students Fought Back