We recently connected with Xochitl Carmona and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Xochitl, thanks for joining us today. Before we get into specifics, let’s talk about success more generally. What do you think it takes to be successful?
Success looks different to everyone and it looks a lot different to me now than it did ten years ago. For me success looks like happiness and being able to live your life’s purpose. More than anything, it is a mental challenge to be able to achieve your goals. I feel that it takes really believing in yourself and not being afraid to fail to be successful. It is important to take your failures and look at them more as experiences that you can learn from. The more you learn, the more you will grow and be able to achieve larger goals.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers.
My name is Xochitl and I am the owner of Werk MIja.
Werk Mija is a lifestyle brand and podcast on a mission to empower mujeres and inspire generational change. As a lifestyle brand, we offer unique Latinx-inspired apparel and accessories for Latinas. On the podcast, we have created a platform to amplify those Latina voices, allowing them to share their entrepreneurial journeys. The stories and the products we offer inspire, motivate, and create a community for Latina leaders, who are often underrepresented in other communities.
Like many Latinas in the U.S I have had to navigate two worlds being both Mexican and American. On one hand, I was tired of seeing brands attempting to cater to Latinx consumers by creating products using stereotypical images and words like “Spicy” and oversexualizing Latinas. On the other hand I was not feeling represented in other American apparel companies that claim to champion all women but do not understand the cultural and economic barriers that the Latinx community faces to move up in a professional career. Werk Mija is a brand by a Latina for Latinas where we can feel seen and shop culturally significant products that represent our Latinx heritage. We celebrate Latinx Heritage 365 days out of the year as opposed to one month for an advertising campaign. Latinx households spend 5% more than the average American household on apparel overall and yet most commercial brands misrepresent this demographic, missing out on opportunities to build relationships with this diverse set of consumers.
I started my business September 2020 as a side hustle while I worked as a full time influencer marketing manager. I was growing the business as much as I could with the time I had left over each day. In November 2021 I was laid off at my full time job and I was met with a decision to make. Should I continue to apply to jobs, trying to convince someone else that I was qualified for the position or should I take this opportunity to grow something I had built myself? I had recently launched the “Bet On Yourself Mija” sweatshirt in celebration of our one year anniversary because I had bet on myself once and started the business, so I thought, why not do it again, take the business on full time and see where it goes.
I took the time I never had to focus on social media platforms like TikTok to learn how to create a strategy to grow an online community and create engaging content that converts. This was a pivotal part of my brands online growth as I was able to lean on my creativity and the right online platform to find my target audience organically. I was able to grow brand awareness outside of my hometown in Illinois and reach an audience in states like Texas, California, Colorado, New York and more!
We’d love to hear the story of how you built up your social media audience?
I knew that social media would be a big part of my business and a big driver to website traffic. There is so much to be done when getting your business off the ground, especially as a solo-preneur. Instead of feeling overwhelmed of what to take on first or what skills to learn, start by playing to your strengths, which is what I did.
Having previously worked in a marketing department, I definitely felt overwhelmed, knowing the various roles within the marketing team that took part in a brand. I knew that I could not do it all, but what I could do was start with was what I knew best, which was social media marketing. Start with what you’re skilled at and navigate from there. For me, I love social media marketing so much because I feel like regardless of the size of your business or years in business, the playing field is pretty even. Social media is always evolving and businesses are continuously forced to adapt to the newest updates, changes and newest platforms. As soon as there is a new trend, form or style of media, we are all learning it together and a small business can adapt quicker than a larger, more established business. It is important to understand who your customer is so that you can understand what platforms they are on and how to create content with messaging that speaks to them. As you get to know your customer better, you learn how to create engaging content just for them.
Rather than feel defeated that Email marketing and copy writing was not a strength of mine, I put a large part of my efforts into social media marketing, which drove traffic to my website. As I had established my audience, I then took the time to learn a form of marketing I was not the most comfortable with, but as my business grows that is something I can look to outsource to someone who is better at it than me.
How did you put together the initial capital you needed to start your business?
I was so excited to start my business and I started planning out my budget. I was calculating the cost of a business license, inventory, website fees, packaging supplies and more. From there I started saving and applied for my LLC. In March of 2020 I received my LLC certificate and I was so excited to continue with the rest of the planning. Then Covid shut everything down and my full time position was suspended. Now the money I was saving for a business, I had to use as part of my living expenses. The new challenge I was faced with now was, how to start a business with no money? While I probably should have given up on a business venture at that moment, I knew that I was resourceful and I would figure something out. I took that time to focus on myself and my needs and with that the answers came.
I launched my business via drop shipping. I was initially going to launch with one coffee mug the “Chingona Fuel” coffee mug, but with drop shopping I had the opportunity to launch with as many products as I wanted to, at no cost. With Drop shipping all you have to do is have a design and you can choose from a variety of their products to print it on like coffee mugs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, phone cases and more. From there you set your price and profit margin, so that when anyone orders, the order is printed and shipped and you receive your part of the profit. If no one orders, you lose nothing. There are obviously pros and cons to drop shipping, but I thought that this would be a risk free way to launch my business and put those profits back into building my business and official website. I decided to launch with 2 coffee mugs as I wanted to take the opportunity to test my audience and see if this would be a viable business. I launched Werk Mija September 2020 via drop shopping and officially launched our website with the profits I saved up in November 2020. The “Chingona Fuel” coffee mug is our best seller to date.
- Website: https://www.werkmija.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/werkmija/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/werkmija/
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/xochitl-carmona-aa7527117/
- Other: TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@werkmija?_t=8X3ahKn2rnu&_r=1