Introducing our new series that we will continue throughout the year! Our Women in Business series aims to radically redefine a woman's worth -- including her contributions to her community. We want our DLEX community to get INSPIRED during these difficult times.
Kim Guerra, like many who start their own businesses, inspires us greatly. From her powerful posts on loving yourself continuously, to her clothing line that defines her deep affection for her community, Kim seems like she has it all.
But in reality, she's worked hard to get to where she is. It's taken strength to be an advocate for her community, to undefinably question the stakes at which her activism and business lie. And we are ALL here for it.
We (virtually) sat down with Kim to chat about her fierce entrepreneurship, her activism, and what really fuels her creativity. "Growing a business is an act of courage and self love. It also requires a lot from you-- all of you," she says. "It asks you to fight for yourself and protect your dreams."
Brown Badass Bonita is Kim's masterpiece. It's a community, a clothing line, and a powerful statement of self worth that is also in a book form from Kim herself, Mariposa. Her collection of Spanglish poetry, Mariposa, is meant to manifest healing and empowerment through words and reading. "Mariposa is like vaporub for the soul and corazon of mujeres who are loving themselves into a garden."
Catch her interview with DYLANLEX below and get INSPIRED to create!
DYLANLEX: What inspired you to start Brown Badass Bonita?
Kim Guerra: Brown Badass Bonita was born around 4am during one of my many existential bath times. I was in a place in my life where I felt I was losing my fire. I was living in Seattle (a very white city) and unhappily married (to a very white man). I felt I had a choice: perish or love myself. I chose love. But I knew it would be a fight. What are the parts of me I want to hold on to? What are the parts of me I need to fan back to flame? As I lay in the tub questioning my existence and three words came to me in response to those questions. Brown. Badass. Bonita. These three words changed my life. They became my shield. So, I turned them into a shirt I could wear as a shield, reminder, and statement. I created a shirt because I needed it. I put it on Instagram and it blew up. Brown Badass Bonita turned into a community when I needed it most. It is also a movement of revolutionary self love which has expanded into love for our community.
DL: How did you get started in activism? What advice would you give to those wanting to be activists or more involved in their communities?
KG: Sonya Renee Taylor shares, "Radical self-love starts with the individual, expands to the family, community, and organization, and ultimately transforms society. All while still unwaveringly holding you in the center of that expansion." I had a similar journey. As I learned to love myself-- I began to see how I was better able to love those around me. As my wounds began to heal, I started to see the places where my community was hurting and I wanted to be a part of the healing. Self love moves us out of survival mode and allows us to see beyond ourselves. Our sights expand into a more systemic paradigm in which we realize life is not just about me-- it is about us. How can I be a reason why this system and community heals? Will I be a reason this community experiences love, justice, and joy?
DL: You're a writer AND the owner of Brown Badass Bonita merch! What inspired you to start a clothing brand and branch your activism into designing and writing?
KG: I want everyone that wears BBB merch to feel like a walking revolution. I created the very first BBB tee for myself because I needed a shield and statement. I remember putting on that shirt and feeling like I was wearing something important (for myself and for everyone who read it). Women saw the tee and identified with it."I am a Brown Badass Bonita too! I need that shirt!!" It stirred a sense of pride, empowerment, and community. A few months later, Trump got elected and started spitting horrible things about my community and other oppressed people groups! I needed to do something-- anything. I designed a shirt that clearly communicated where I stood. I wanted to create something people could wear as an act of protest and solidarity. "I STAND WITH BROWN, BLACK, INDIGENOUS, MUSLIM, LGBTQ, UNDOCUMENTED HUMANS" This shirt became a shirt people wore to protests, marches, schools, and small towns where they were a minority. I imagined others reading the shirt and feeling loved and supported-- that's who I create for. People who want to show support and those who need support. Many people get offended by my shirts-- I don't create for them and don't consider them worth my energy.
DL: What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs hoping to make their businesses grow?
KG: Create from your corazon, from your heart y echale ganas (put effort/gusto into it!). It is not easy, but you are worth it. Growing a business is an act of courage and self love. It also requires a lot from you-- all of you. It asks you to fight for yourself and protect your dreams. It asks you to be humble and remain open to learning and trying (again and again and again). After each time you almost give up, remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing and for who. One of the biggest lessons I learned was to ask for help and to collaborate. Women are resilient as fuck. Women are the strongest beings. We can second guess ourselves a lot. However, when women come together and hold each other up-- we are unstoppable. Surround yourself with badass women who want to see you glow the fuck up. Surround yourself with women who inspire you and will fight alongside you (not against you). This is revolutionary. It will help not only your business-- it will change your life.
DL: What goals have you set for yourself and your business in 2021, and what can we see from you in the future?
KG: This year I threw out my to do list and created a to be list. I will be present, loving (to self and my community), and intentional with my time, energy, and healing. I will be a reason why my community grows wings and my family continues to break toxic cycles. I will grow in my identity as a writer and be courageous in following my calling. I won't be afraid to rest and to believe I am worthy of love and joy. These are my most important goals this year. I hope you see me grow in my self love, hear my voice get stronger, and see me step more fully into radical joy.
DL: And last but not least, how would you define your personal style? What from your past has encouraged your fashion choices?
KG: I would describe my personal style as "free"-- I wear things that make me feel like I am a liberated woman. Sometimes that looks like a flowy, linen, magenta dress made in Tepoztlan, Mexico. Other times it looks like a sexy bodysuit I bought online. I love florals and embroidered prints. I love sexy things which require me to have courage if I want to wear them out in public. There are times my grandma looks at me and says "Why in the hell would you wear that?!" and other times she says "Wow! You look sexy and elegant." Both of those make me feel like hitting the mark with my style.