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Startup Diaries: Shop Latinx
"I want to spend four hours a day working on one thing which I’ve read is much better than spending six hours multitasking."
If you dream of starting a company and want the inside scoop of what it’s like running the day-to-day of the business, you've come to the right place. In our series Startup Diaries, we ask new founders to take us to work for a day, and reflect on what they discovered during the process.
Today, we get the play-by-play from Brittany Chavez, founder of the online marketplace Shop Latinx.
What’s your business all about?
In 2016, we realized there was no place for Latinx consumers to connect with Latinx makers, creators, and small businesses online. So we decided to make one. Shop Latinx is Latina-owned and operated. We first started as an Instagram account highlighting Latinx businesses and quickly grew into an online directory featuring over 600 Latinx-owned business across the United States. Today, Shop Latinx is the go-to online destination for Latinx goods.
7:20am –– I set my alarm for 6:30 but I snoozed until 7:20. I answered a couple of emails from bed and a few direct messages on Instagram on the Shop Latinx account. I haven’t really been getting great sleep because there is a lot on my mind with launching the new marketplace. Today, I wanted to be as intentional as possible with my schedule.
7:30am –– Make breakfast of oatmeal with frozen berries, and green tea while listening to the Trader Joe’s Podcast on Spotify (check it out, it’s super dope).
7:40am –– I am currently living at home with my mom, stepdad, and two little brothers ages 4 & 8. So after breakfast, I sat with my little brothers and played and ate with them. After we ate, I helped them get ready for school.
8:00am –– I decided to go with my mom to drop off my little brothers at school. I recently got in a car accident so I’ve been commuting with my mom.
9:00am –– After dropping my brothers off, my mom and I went for a hike in Claremont. It was a 7-mile hike. I get bad anxiety sometimes, and this has been an overwhelming couple of weeks for me, so it was good to go outside and good for my soul. We got to talk about Shop Latinx and our upcoming trip to Guatemala. It’s been interesting living back home after ten years on my own, and I’m working from home a lot so we get on each other’s nerves sometimes. This was a moment for us to reset. Luckily, I just got approved for a new apartment.
11:45am –– Went to Wells Fargo to get a money order for a deposit on my new apartment in Boyle Heights. It's going to be part my place and part Shop Latinx headquarters, so I’m so excited. I even bought myself a whiteboard.
12 pm –– I pick up my little brother Emilio from school.
12:15pm –– Come home, make Emilio and myself a smoothie with berries, coconut milk, and cashew butter.
12:40pm –– Take a shower.
1:15pm –– Get to my small room and get to work! Finally. I light a candle and turn on my favorite genius frequency playlist on YouTube. It really helps me focus.
Today I’m focusing on my pitch deck. Two of my colleagues have made a couple of intros to people at LA-based business accelerators and venture capital firms, and I haven't had a chance to revise my deck since before the marketplace announcement when Shop Latinx was still a directory. So I have to start this process from scratch. I’m in charge of writing all the copy for the deck while my partner Breana Quintero is doing the design and branding. We need to get this completed by Sunday.
2:15pm –– The first draft of the pitch deck took about an hour to complete. Afterward, I reach out to Breana to create a flyer for the Las Jefas Crew workshop that’s at Cross Campus labs in downtown LA. This is an event we’re planning on how to build your brand on a budget and we need to get everything finished by Monday.
3:00pm –– After we finish, we leave to take the train to union station in Los Angeles (since I don't have a car). The station is about a mile away from my mom’s house.
3:30pm –– I fall asleep on the train during my commute to meet with Patty Delgado of Hija de Tu Madre and Julissa Prado of Rizos Curls at the Hija De Tu Madre headquarters in Boyle Heights to go over our workshop for the We All Grow Latina Summit. Two little boys had to wake me up when we reach Union Station. I get in an Uber pool to Boyle Heights.
4:00pm –– We go downstairs from Patty’s office to buy tortas for lunch. I start to feel a little sick from the hike, and honestly, I’m burnt out, so I also ask the guy at the torta shop for a juice recommendation and buy a pineapple, ginger, orange, and kale juice.
4:30pm –– We go back upstairs and get to work on our workshop presentation. While working on it, I'm still simultaneously working on the pitch deck. By this time I've completed six slides, and I’m also on Instagram responding to DMs while multitasking on the pitch deck.
5:00pm –– The Shop Latinx marketplace is currently in beta testing. We have six vendors navigating the backend of the site and giving us feedback. In the middle of multi-tasking and making sure everything is ready before we relaunch, I receive an email from one of the vendors that the login isn’t working and they keep getting an error message. I forward the email to Breana because I’m too stressed and working on a lot of things.
8:15pm –– We’ve been coworking for a while and I’m feeling tired (and sick) so I leave to take an Uber back to Union Station. The trains stop running at a certain time so I need to head back. I wait at the station for 15 minutes finally the train comes and it takes about 45 minutes to get back to Pomona. I text my mom and she comes to pick me up from the station. We talk about my day during our ride home.
9:00pm –– When we get home I unwind, change into my PJs, take an Advil and get in bed. I answer some DMs on Instagram and repost a few things to my story. I do this until I fall asleep around 1 am.
Okay, so that was your day. How did it compare to your ideal or “perfect” day?
Ideally, I would start my day by waking up well rested. I definitely woke up with a level of optimism but was still really tired, so that really didn’t help. If I’d had a good night sleep I would’ve felt better. That said, I did feel better than I’ve felt in a while. In terms of productivity and time management, I want to spend four hours a day working on one thing which I’ve read is much better than spending six hours multitasking. I want to start implementing this and being more mindful of my time in general. Also, I wonder if this is even realistic for a founder who is wearing many hats and doesn’t have the capital to bring on a team yet. There are times I do want to buckle down and focus on one thing but there are always so many things demanding my attention.
What was it like keeping track of your day?
Even thinking about it made me want to be more intentional about how I spent my time. The process made me want to think about how to maximize the next 24 hours. I got my family time in, I got my exercise in. I met two friends. It felt like a good day.
How does your life as a founder compare to what you thought it was going to be?
My journey as a founder has never been easy. Discomfort is all I’ve known. Before becoming a founder I was never exposed to other founder stories. Now that I’m in this space, it’s uncomfortable but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I like to be an optimist about where I am, and think this is going to be a really dope chapter in my life. I’m proud of this period of grit and determination and am ready for what comes next.
Why did you decide to found your own company?
I feel like it found me. I was a late bloomer. I really wanted to work in music so I interned at Vibe and Interscope. Then I started working in corporate music as an assistant in digital marketing—it made me hate music. I left and didn’t have any savings so I was working odd jobs (including at a Cannabis shop and as a nanny) while I started Shop Latinx.
I didn’t expect for Shop Latinx to be where it is now. I just thought it was going to be an Instagram account where I featured and tagged Latinx owned business––I didn’t think it was going to be anything bigger than this. There are a lot of Latinx owned business and collectives I followed and thought Shop Latinx was going to be like that. I didn’t know it was going to be a company or that I was going to seek funding options. That wasn’t even a thought in my mind when I started. As Shop Latinx evolves, I’ve had to evolve with it. The reason I decided to turn it into a marketplace from an Instagram account is that I realized the level of impact it was going to have. I wanted to do this for my community.
What are some of the biggest hurdles you’ve had to overcome while trying to scale your business?
Definitely raising capital and financial insecurity. Right now we are looking into Equity Crowdfunding after getting a lot of positive feedback from our community on social. A few weeks ago, we announced we’re relaunching Shop Latinx as a marketplace and polled our new work to see how many people would invest in Shop Latinx.
If I had the money right now I would be more confident that I would have the ability to scale. Coming from a low-income background, I have to be very innovative. I have to leverage myself because I have no other choice. I have my brand story on lock and I’ve really earned the trust of my community.
Have you ever thought about doing an accelerator program? Why or why not?
Yes, I’m hoping it will give me the necessary tools and give me marketplace experience. When I learn with purpose, I think that’s what excites me most about these accelerator programs. Having mentors and people invested in the success of Shop Latinx is what I want most right now.
What are your fundraising goals?
I would love to be able to pay all the collaborators what they are worth. I need someone in charge of content strategy. I also need to get my finances in order and want to hire a financial advisor and an attorney who specializes in marketplaces. I would also like to pay myself a salary so that I can do this full time. We’ve made it this far with organic marketing, but in order for us to scale, we will also have to invest some money in marketing. I want Shop Latinx to be tech aligned so, ideally, I’d like to buy ads on a podcast like How I Built This.
How do you stay organized and on task?
Google Calendars is my best friend—it keeps me sane. I’m still kind of figuring things out, especially as the workload piles on. I’m trying to schedule my days in my personal life, too.
Any final reflections?
My personality and passion come through when I tell people about Shop Latinx, that’s how I’m able to get the mentors I get. I’ve found that, as a founder, you need to put yourself in a position of vulnerability. I want to continue learning, growing, asking questions. I want to continue to build. Right now, I have everything down except for the money.