Welcome to Sleek's Meet the Maker Series! Each month, we'll be spotlighting our favorite founders, creators, designers, artists and do-it-yourselfers. They are the movers and shakers of our world. They remind us that there is magic in all of us that's waiting to be unleashed...if we just take the time to activate it. Anything is truly possible if you just go for it. You may or may not know about them, but you'll get to know some of the most intimate details of their work. Get ready to be inspired!
We decided to celebrate Ivy of Ivy Love Shop on Girl Gang Appreciation Day because of her everyday dedication to helping other women entrepreneurs succeed in their businesses. From honoring new budding girlbosses on her Instagram page to making her last birthday celebration, a polka-dots themed networking event to unite all bossbabes in her life, Ivy Love shows us what lifting others really looks like. See what keeps this incredible momboss motivated and determined to defy all odds...
Tell us about the inspiration behind your designs. What does Ivy Love brand stand for and how does it distinguish itself from the countless graphic tee collections out there?
Ivy love is an extension of my daily life and childhood memories. It literally is my life story on tee shirts: from the songs I love, to the things that I connect with. Even with collaborations, I make sure I can stand behind the company or cause, because every collection I design is a reflection of my beliefs and interests. There are many tee shirt brands out there, some have multiple designers, others create tees that are reflective of the times, some companies design based on what's popular or trendy. I've tried my best to create only what is true to me, regardless of trends or fashions. The true reward is seeing someone wear an IvyLove tee that I created in 2010, to an event or pop up in 2018, whether it's because the quality stood the test of time, or because the message did.
Where do you find inspiration? How do you breakthrough creative blocks?
Inspiration is everywhere for me. Sometimes, I'm in the car listening to a song that takes me back to a memorable time and I incorporate the lyrics into a tee. Other times, I remember something my mom used to say to me, or something I enjoyed as a child, and another tee is born. The creative blocks usually only happen when I'm designing a collab or logo and need to incorporate another brand or customer's input. That's something that I struggle with most. When I design for IvyLove, I know what I want the finished product to look like and when I do collabs, or private collections, I worry that my vision may not be the same as my customer's. It's important for me to design something the customer will love, but also that I can stand behind.
You were in the beauty industry working at a hair and makeup academy before you started Ivy Love Shop. What inspired you to make the leap to become your own boss?
It was actually less inspiration and more of a reality check. The truth is, I was working late hours and lots of overtime to save money to buy a house in the town that I live in now. That was the goal. But as the years went by, and I found myself not being able to afford anything in the area and most importantly, losing time with my daughter. I realized owning a house was not as important as being present for my daughter's milestones and teenage years. My daughter was at the end of middle school, and I was missing practices, games, and cheer performances. On top of that, I was coming home with little energy to work on IvyLove. I took the little I had saved up for a down payment for a home and made it stretch as far as possible so I could continue to pay the bills while building Ivylove. It was the best decision I could've made. I still don't own a house, but the relationship I have with my daughter, and the steady growth of the brand, are proof that it was well worth it.
What has been the most ground-breaking truth you've learned about starting a business?
No one tells you that "long hours" means you literally can go days with no sleep. It's 4 am right now. I have to be up by 6 am... NO sleep tonight.
How has being your own boss changed the way you see yourself?
I have become a better mother because of it. I have learned to do more with less. I have become more assertive when it comes to business, because my daughters needs come first; before discounts, before favors, before anything. Those things were easier when I had a paycheck, but becoming my own boss has forced me to see my hobby from a business point of view. It's amazing how much someone can grow when their safety net is taken away.
You're a single mom entrepreneur who's proved that it can be done. What advice would you give to moms looking to start their own businesses?
I love this question because it's usually followed by a cliche answer, like "believe in yourself".... but the honest truth is that as moms, we often believe that a 9-5 with benefits, healthcare and Christmas bonuses, is what will give our children what they need; be it a house, private school, vacations, etc. But what I have found is that going from a well paying career to an almost minimum wage entrepreneurial lifestyle, allowed me to provide my daughter with so much more than I could've ever paid for with a hefty income. At the beginning, I was lucky to just break even every month, but the mom in me knew that was temporary, as long as I didn't quit. What I'm trying to say is, starting a business may lose you hours of sleep, commas in your bank account, and name brand cereals. But if you keep pushing yourself, what you gain is self discovery, including the ability to improvise, and the ability to say NO, which is difficult for those of us who are conditioned to constantly say yes to our upper management. THAT kind of growth comes with raised standards, resiliency, self confidence and the strength that we pass on to our kids. Most importantly, you gain a collection of invaluable moments with your children. Those are the things money can't buy.
If you could give your past-self advice, what would it be?
Never ever take advice from people who have never been in your shoes, people who would never walk in your shoes, or people who's shoes you don't aspire to be in.
Who are your greatest influences and how have they profoundly shaped your approach to life?
Moms. My fellow female business owners. My best friend. My daughter. My grandmother. They say you are a combination of the people you spend the most time with, so I've made it a point to surround myself with and adopt the qualities of the women I admire most. I've been beyond fortunate for all the women in my life who have pushed, inspired, taught, and even scolded me from time to time. I credit them for not just who I am, but for the woman my daughter is becoming. I see so many beautiful qualities in my daughter that I can easily identify in my female support system; from her grandmother, the most resourceful and talented jack of all trades who raised two kids on a $6.25 / hour income; to my best friend, who's always been wise beyond her years, even as she held my hand as I was giving birth at 17 years old, and continues to save me from my own self doubt at 35; to my grandmother, whose seamstress ingenuity and optimism I'd like to think I inherited; to every single female business owner, mom and friend that has lifted me when I've been at my lowest. Sleekshop has been one of my most valued support systems. When my shop was vandalized in 2015, they reached out to collab on what would be the first of many events together, so that I could recoup some of my lost sales. Since then, we've collaborated on many projects, and word on the street is there might even be an Ivylove collection coming soon to Sleekshop.com...
My heroes are actual people, who I get to call, text and tag on funny Instagram posts ;)
What is something most people don’t know about you but they probably should?
There are a few things! Ready?
- I didn't learn to speak English until I was about 8 years old.
- I was born in Mexico, and moved to California with my mom when I was 7.
- I'm 35 now, and still haven't become a US citizen.
- I had my daughter when I was 17; She's 17 now, and just texted me from Rome (it's 4 am here and noon there) while on her Senior Trip (pinch me!) .
- I dropped out of fashion school at 19 when the company I was working for promoted me to design cheer uniforms for NBA teams including the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, and produce their first cheer catalog.
- I left that company and partnered with an investor to create a clothing brand in 2004, which was a bad business move that ended up in court, in my favor. This is where I regained ownership of my trademark heart logo, that has been tattooed on my arm since 2008, in the same spot where Ivylove hoodies have a heart on their right sleeve.
- I then opened (and closed) my first boutique a few blocks from where I still live, and had to get a job to maintain food on the table while building my website. This is where the failed home purchase story continues, and the decision to focus on my daughter and IvyLove was made... and you know the rest!
What are your big visions for Ivy Love Shop?
There is only one at the moment. Now that my daughter is finishing her senior year in high school, my only other priority is to create an MLB official Dodgers Collection. Stay tuned!
GIRL GANG GIVEAWAY
Ivy Love teams up with SleekShop and StinaFace to present this empowering Girl Gang Giveaway. Three lucky winners will win an Ivy Love Empowered Women Tee with a baseball cap, a $50 gift card to SleekShop.com and their choice of StinaFace whimsy brush sets and a pot of chunky glitter!
To enter, make sure to do the following:
1.) Follow @ivyloveshop @sleekshopcom @stinaface
2.) Like this post on our Instagram page
3.) Tell us in the comments section of this blog post who are the women in your life that inspire you to be a better version of yourself. Please include your instagram handle so we know who you are!
Winners will be announced on Saturday, March 30th.