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This Is How Mexican-Born Artist, Ilse Valfré Went From Preschool Teacher To Founding A Multi Million Dollar Brand

How do you make your passion into a successful business? Los Angeles-based artist and entrepreneur Ilse Valfré, 29, asked herself that very question, now she’s making millions.

Eight years ago, you could easily spot Ilse Valfré being extremely fashionable on the streets of San Diego.

Her unique sense of attainable style was captured on the pages of Teen Vogue when she was just 21-years-old. Back then the Tijuana native was busy working as a pre-school teacher — she even authored a children’s book, but her real passion has always been art.

Her art work grew a cult following on tumblr and other social media pages. Fans of her illustrations even dress up like characters she created.

CREDIT: Twitter/@neontouch @itskendallkay

Valfré says that art is a form of therapy for her, and the natural extension of her work made it possible to transition into fashion.

“I consider fashion a means of expression, and so is art!” Valfré said when she was 23. “I know this is said over and over, but I do have a deep passion for fashion and sometimes when I see a new collection that I can’t afford, I say to myself: ‘Since I can’t afford it right now, I’ll style my paper dolls with the clothes I wish I had.” It’s like living in my own little fantasy world.'”

Roughly three years later, Valfré started her company, along with her husband, appropriately named after herself.

CREDIT: Valfre.com

At Valfré.com you can find an assortment of accessories including cell phone cases. She said that if someone wants to start their own business it’s important to be very specific about what they want to sell. “At the beginning it was pretty much a one-woman show,” Valfré said in an interview with Fortune. “It’s fun to open up product categories and create new types of products but you need to have a big team to continue to grow these categories once they’re open.”

Her brand’s real seller is women’s fashion.

CREDIT: Valfre.com

The Valfré woman can be described as girly, passionate about being a feminist, and always experimental. Valfré said her stylish inspiration should never be about limiting yourself to one form of trend.

Feminism has always been at the forefront to her brand.

Valfré says that feminism isn’t just about being a woman, but being strong and bold about who you are.

I think don’t think having ovaries makes you a woman,” Valfré said in an interview with StyleCaster. “Like my mother for example, she doesn’t have ovaries; since she had me, she’s had to get them removed, but that doesn’t make her less of a woman because of that, you know? I have a trans friend, and she’s a female, and she wasn’t born with female parts. But that doesn’t make her less of a woman than I am.”

This Boricua Is Bringing An Indie Bookstore To Her Neighborhood Of 1.4 Million

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This Boricua Is Bringing An Indie Bookstore To Her Neighborhood Of 1.4 Million

@thelitbar / Instagram

Nöelle Santos is a woman on a mission: giving her borough a bookstore. The Bronx, where Santos resides, has ten colleges, 1.4 million people and, currently, zero bookstores. Santos told mitú that this was just unacceptable so she is doing something about it.

Nöelle Santos, 30, wants to give her neighborhood a unique and accessible bookstore.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BN6vPH_B0cQ/


According to the website, The Lit. Bar will be more than just a bookstore. The dream project of Santos, who has a bachelor’s in business management and accounting and master’s in human resources management from Lehman College, will be a bookstore, wine bar and community center.

“I saw this petition going around online in October 2014 and it said that the Barnes & Noble in Co-Op City in Bay Plaza was in jeopardy of being closed; that the landlord didn’t want to extend the lease because they wanted a more affluent tenant, someone who could pay more rent,” Santos told mitú.

The looming, and eventual, threat of the Bronx losing their only bookstore launched Santos into action.

The Lit. Bar / Facebook
CREDIT: The Lit. Bar / Facebook

“I was inspired to do something about it. It was unacceptable to me that there are 1.4 million people in The Bronx and 10 colleges and we only had one bookstore. I decided right then and there that I was going to do something about it; that I was going to open my own bookstore and make it more accessible because I drive but that’s not the case for most people in my borough,” Santos told mitú. “It was really hard to get all the way to Co-Op City. There’s no train that goes over there; that goes all the way to the northeast. Also, it’s a corporate chain store so it never reflected our local people and the demographic that we have here, so I figured that I could do something really special for The Bronx by bringing a second bookstore and it just so happens that now I’m going to be the only one.”

Santos understands the importance of literacy in getting any education.

The Lit. Bar / Facebook
CREDIT: The Lit. Bar / Facebook

“First, I need to give people in The Bronx access to books. Just at its core, books and reading and literacy are the foundations for any type of learning so my people need access to books first and foremost. Secondly, specifically where I’m from in the south Bronx, we’ve seen a wave of gentrification and we’ve seen a more affluent demographic move into the borough and gentrification is a thing,” Santos mentioned to mitú about the need for a neighborhood bookstore where neighbors can meet and talk about tense issues.

But she also hopes that the bookstore becomes a place of community.

The Lit. Bar / Facebook
CREDIT: The Lit. Bar / Facebook

“I don’t want to see the borough become ‘The Tale Of Two Cities’ where you have the rich on one side and the poor on the other. I want to make a home for people to actually connect and communicate about these issues and become real neighbors and I can’t think of a better way to do that than through wine and books,” Santos expressed about her hopes of bringing community together through books.

The Boricua bookstore owner is also dedicated to making sure her store reflects her community.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BN7opn9BvHQ/


“My inventory is going to be general interest but we’re going to specialize in women’s and local interest, whatever that may be at that time,” Santos said adding that, “about 60 percent of my population speaks Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish myself but I’m going to make sure that I have somebody on staff at all times that speaks Spanish and I’m also going to look into the statistics and I’m going to also address other languages other than Spanish.”

Santos also encourages others to start their own bookstores if they live in underserved neighborhoods because independent bookstores are doing just fine.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNR1qAKhC4U/


“We are thriving and don’t be afraid because you see Borders closing and Barnes & Noble closing down. Independent bookstore sales and statistics are nothing like Barnes & Noble,” Santos stated to mitú. “They abandoned local communities and became corporations and they are feeling the affects of that because the only way they can compete with Amazon is on price and you know who’s going to win there.”

If you’d like to donate to Santos’ crowdfunding efforts, you can click here.

indiegogo.com
CREDIT: indiegogo.com

READ: An Afro-Dominican Mom Made A Bilingual Book So Children And Parents Can Discuss Race And Color

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