Q: What is your preferred name, pronouns, major, and year in school?
A: My name is Karla Navarro (she/her/hers), and I am a third year Sociology and Spanish double major.
Q: What is your business’s name and why/how did you select it? What does it mean to you?
A: I chose my business name, Lomitas, after where I grew up in Tijuana. The place I grew up in is called Lomas Verdes. I wanted to keep the name but add the diminutive to make it cuter. It is in honor of my childhood home in Tijuana where I grew up until I was 10. I have a lot of beautiful memories with my family and friends that shaped my childhood and me as a person. I thought it would be nothing better than to honor that in my business.
Q: When did you start your businesses?
A: I officially launched on May 19. I took about a two-month break after the unraveling of the police brutality; it felt wrong to be focusing on my business during that time. If it hadn’t been because of quarantine, I don’t think I would have been able to even think about launching a small business.
Karla Navarro runs Lomitas, a clothing brand which features t-shirts and hoodies, which definitely represents great parts of her identity and culture as a Latina small business owner and full-time student. Navarro reflects on her identity as an immigrant which plays a huge part of her life. As a low-income first-generation woman of color at UCLA, Navarro strives to maintain both her academics and business and hopes others feel represented through her work. Navarro describes herself to be a hopeful person and a fighter.
When asked about what made her the most proud about being a full-time student and small business owner, Navarro says, “Being able to reflect on my journey and represent my community beyond what we see in academia and the stereotypes that we see in the media. It’s a very intimate representation of who I am and where I come from, and I’m super glad that other people feel represented and can resonate with the messages within my business.” Her greatest inspiration came from her “immigration journey; those experiences of coming when I was 10, learning a new language, adapting to a culture, meeting completely new people, and leaving my family behind.” Growing up, Navarro felt that the Latinx experience in the U.S. was very stereotypical and one dimensional. She states, “I wanted to showcase our culture beyond that. Yes I’m Latinx, but I promise I go beyond conchas and hot Cheetos which the media portrays. I wanted to do something meaningful with a purpose.”
With the help of her friends and family, Navarro was able to overcome the doubt that came with starting a new business. She explains, “They have always been supportive when choosing color combos or with packaging”. In addition, Grupo Folklorico de UCLA and Hermanas Unidas de UCLA have been supportive in sharing her business.
Since Navarro is so passionate about running Lomitas, she is actively working to divide her time between business and school, often using the weekend to strictly focus on Lomitas. “My small business and my life are completely tied,” explained Navarro. “Anything that is in my personal life is going to affect my business.” Challenges arrived unexpectedly as Navarro expressed that at one point, she was in a bad mental state and needed the time to heal and focus on her mental health which translated into her business. Despite the housing insecurity she was experiencing, Navarro remained focused on putting forth her best work while also taking the time to care for herself. She has now managed to move from her temporary living place to her home back in Tijuana, where she is constantly working on packaging and shipping current orders in a more settled space.
Running both the website and Instagram, Navarro makes sure to upload pictures of all of her merchandise which she takes herself, often asking her family to model and buyers to tag her in their photos. While Lomitas has received much support from Navarro’s community, she feels as there is a lot that many don’t know about her business. There are a lot of thoughts that go behind the scenes that she wishes she could share with her buyers, “but then where do I draw this line between my business and my life?” questions Navarro. “I would like to give more insight on what it has been like since I started Lomitas.”
Currently, Navarro is taking the time to focus on finals and get ready for winter break so she can make more of her favorite hoodies and shirts. “I think right now, my favorite has to be the Gasolina hoodie because I love the color, and I love Daddy Yankee. The song [‘Gasolina’] is part of my childhood; it’s such an iconic song.” The Gasolina hoodie features the quote, “A ella le gusta la gasolina pero no el machismo, ni el racismo, ni la xenofobia, ni la homofobia, ni tus excusas.” Navarro finds pride in her merchandise knowing that she is helping her family overcome the problematic mentalities within the Latinx community and hopes to leave behind all of the discriminatory ideologies that are also seen within the community. “I’ll walk into some family dinners in my hoodie like, ‘ya llegue’. You’re like indirectly calling out your racist family member, your homophobic uncle, your anti-black aunt, or something like that,” communicates Navarro. “I’m making it known that I have time today.” Navarro loves that her hoodie embodies her pride of being Latinx and the beauty of her culture while still making sure to share its problematic ideologies and calling out folks on them.
As for a peek into many other of her lovely merchandise items, make sure to shop Lomitas and follow her on Instagram @shoplomitas !