Meet Elena and Gerald Flores. Elaine owns Sew Bonita, and Gerald, Taco Gear. Together they make up Sew Taco (an amazing podcast). I discovered them on the podcasting app, Anchor, and knew I had to have them on the show - they were kind enough to join me!
Gerald has a history in graphic design, it’s what he’s done and still does for a living. Of all the work he did in graphic design, he seemed to gravitate most towards simple logo design. One day he thought to himself, “maybe I can make some shirts.” Directly following that thought though, was the thought of how many brands already exist. What did he stand for that was any different than all the rest? He couldn’t think of anything, so he kind of gave up on the idea until he started looking for a taco shirt to wear. He couldn’t find one, so it only made sense to make it himself. He made a super simple design and threw it up on an online store. When he shared it with the small following he had amassed in freelance graphic design, he got a few orders, and that’s when Taco Gear was born.
Elena’s journey began when Gerald bought her a sewing machine. It was the perfect gift, only problem was she had no idea what she was doing - she couldn’t sew! So, she took a local sewing class and just started making things for fun. Soon friends got involved and she began to see some potential in her work. She knew she wanted to tap into the Mexican American culture using a t-shirt brand, so that’s exactly what she did. She launched her first t-shirt and it just blew up! Now she creates accessories and t-shirts to empower latino women under the name Sew Bonita.
Their podcast’s tagline is “two side hustles and a microphone,” so naturally I asked what Elena and Gerald do full time. Gerald works full time as the creative director for a digital agency on web design, branding, and video production. He loves the work and loves how he’s able to exercise his creative muscles on his side hustle and his main hustle. Elena works full time in social work as a case manager for adults with mental disabilities. There’s a lot of behind-a-desk type paper work involved, so she doesn’t get to use a ton of creativity. It can be draining to do the exact opposite of what you want eight hours a day, but she goes home every night and finds the energy to get it done anyhow.
Both Gerald and Elena are focused on being involved in their communities, especially on the local level. Whether it’s supporting local businesses, getting involved in Taco Fest (I want to go), Tacos with Creatives (Gerald’s), or Small Business Saturday (Elena’s), their both heavily invested in their fellow local creators and makers.
Elena is hoping to release a skirt line soon (way cool) and her own custom fabric. Because of the way his business is structured, Gerald is able to release a lot of different designs in a short amount of time. Making the shirt is one half the battle, the other half is figuring out what the people want! He’ll make one design that he’s sure of, that does okay, and another he’s not as excited about, that does amazing.
For both of them - this takes a lot of time. And because they’re both working full time, it’s taking a lot of their free time. Side hustles take a sacrifice. If you’re thinking about diving into your clothing company, know that the journey is beautiful, but it’s life changing too. Gerald and Elena need to be super selective with how they spend their time. Meetings with friends aren’t impromptu, but scheduled. Weekends aren’t a time to take off, but a time to work extra hard.
Don’t be pissed when you don’t finish that project in the hour you had. Set high, but realistic expectations for yourself and patiently work towards your goals with the time you have - you won’t get more time by dwelling on what you don’t have, you’ll only loose more of it!
Another thing Elena, Gerald, and I have in common (besides our love of side hustles and tacos (duh)), is our love of Gary Vaynerchuck. He’s a big reason why I started this podcast in the first place. Anyhow, a big part of what Elena is talking about here is self awareness. To know that you have a creative gift, and know it young, that’s huge. As Gary says, stop worrying about what you’re bad at, and start doubling down at what you’re good at.
After you know you’ve got it, start! I have historically researched myself into oblivion before beginning a venture, only to never actually start (this podcast?). Being prepared is one thing, but there’s a fine line between preparing and over preparing. In my experience, over preparing is a side effect of fear. I’m afraid I’ll fail. Slowly, I’m beginning to understand that failure isn’t all that bad and it’s allowing me to start before being completely prepared. This piece of advice from Gerald is much needed for me, and maybe for you too. We’ve seen this before with other guests too - Noah from Madhappy comes to mind. Him and his friend started their first clothing line without knowing a thing! In fact, it was that first line that taught them what they needed to know to try again. Did they fail along the way, of course, did they let that stop them? No, and you shouldn’t either. Rant over, thanks Gerald.
Elena’s next piece of advice actually comes from one of her creative friends in Houston.
Moral of the story: just do it. And I’m sure, if you’re anything like me, you can think of a million reasons not to “just do it.” Things will never be perfect - the stars won’t align unless you make them. Elena and Gerald were once at a conference with friends when one of those friends had the opportunity to share lunch with some big wigs in the creative scene, but she didn’t want to leave them behind. Gerald stopped her doubt in its tracks with one simple question that we could all consider a bit more often.
If you don’t start your company, if you don’t ask the girl out, if you don’t take that plane ticket - are you going to regret it if you don’t? If the answer is yes, then I think you know what you have to do. What a beautiful question to fight against the fear that stops us from chasing our goals and dreams.
Elena’s last two pieces of advice are pretty dang practical, but important nonetheless. Number 1: be nice. Be nice to other creatives (yes, even (especially) your “competition”), and be nice to your customers (yes, even (especially) the haters). Number 2: learn how to run a business. Running a business doesn’t always come naturally to creatively minded people. Maybe painting a picture is the easy part for you, but selling it… well, maybe not so much. Learn sales, learn marketing, and learn finances!
Geralds last piece of advice: check your ego. Stop worrying about what other people think. It’s a bit of a paradox, because your entire business is often predicated on people liking your product enough to buy it, but on a grander scale, don’t let other people’s opinions stop you from at least trying. Also, don’t let your ego stop you from interacting with your “competition.” When one of us wins, we all win because, as they said, “there’s enough sunshine for everybody”
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Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20