Updated: Aug 21
Fashion t-shirts that make a statement were seen all over the Spring 2017 runway shows as well as magazines across the globe. Some political and cultural, others personal and funny, t-shirts are on trend and keeping it real. So, when design company owner, Erika Hernandez, and professor, Ana Feliciano, came across an issue affecting their Latina roots, they decided to stand up and make a statement - on a shirt.
With immigration reform in the headlines, Latinas, like Erika and Ana, are standing up in the face of this new challenge. People from all corners of Latin America have traditionally come here to make a better life, coming here by any means necessary to provide something better for future generations, and that should continue. This is now being compromised by a new administration, and the Latinos that are here and have “made it” must not stay silent. Erika, a Cuban American whose parents came here to flee Fidel Castro says, “Our culture must be preserved and promoted in a positive light, not by a search engine.” Ana, who is Dominican, adds, “We are so many other things besides immigrants, besides the box that others want to put us in. It’s time to show them.”
The movement started when Erika was asked to speak about entrepreneurship on a panel at a local university. She agreed and made a shirt to show off her design company, EH Social Events, and possibly answer questions about female entrepreneurship. She created a shirt that said Latina Made, but before making the shirt at her printing press, she did a quick search for the phrase online. When entering the words into the search engine, it corrected her to say Latina Maid. Along with the assumption, the search engine proceeded to include several links to degrading content, from stereotypical to inappropriate, all associated with the word Latina. Shocked, and angry, Erika called Ana to and said, "We need to do something.” They decided to sell the t-shirt, Latina Made, Not Maid, and along with the shirt, start a movement.
The question persisted, with so many Latina role models in our world today, why should the search engine deem these results? From holding positions of power, to helping other Latinos in our community, Latinas are making great strides, and that should be commended. So, Latina Made, Not Maid became an opportunity for other Latinas to share their journeys. Latina Made, Not Maid has now interviewed a dozen Latinas across the country asking them to tell their stories of how they became a self-made Latina.
With these shirts, Latina women are using their style to make more than just a fashion statement, but instead, a real one. Latina Made, Not Maid is now a movement showcasing Latinas from all walks of life.
Latina women doctors, lawyers, engineers, writers, and many more professions are telling the world that they have so much more to offer than just fulfilling a typecast role. In addition to Latinas empowering one another through their narratives, Erika and Ana have also decided to start the Latina Made, Not Maid Scholarship Fund, awarding a first-generation Latina student the opportunity to be the first in their family to attend college.