Encouraging Latinas to Pursue College and Careers Through FashionOctober 17, 2019
Roseanna Garcia, 2007–08 Community Action Grantee, was inspired to start Latina Fashionista after working for various apparel manufacturers and reflecting on how she was treated as a woman and a minority.
“Latinas are underrepresented in all areas of the fashion industry – from the runway to the executive level. Although we have a unique sense of style and a strong work ethic, we are overlooked, stereotyped, and assumed we will take less in pay,” she said. “I believe that this is one reason for the significant growth in Latina entrepreneurs. We are, in a way, starting our own industry because we know our market, Latinas, and the power our consumer has in the United States. If we are not given the opportunity, we will create it.”
Thanks to Latina Fashionista, young women and girls in Latin communities in Los Angeles are realizing they can create opportunities by pursuing careers in the fashion industry and getting college degrees. The organization does workshops and presentations held at middle schools, high schools, and public libraries, and participates in youth conferences where students “run to our booth with excitement when they see the word fashion,” Roseanna said.
As part of its presentations at events, Latina Fashionista provides a wealth of resources from the U.S. Department of Education such as the Four Steps to College, College Preparation Checklist, and Federal Student Loans, Basics for Students, as well as pamphlets with information about colleges in Los Angeles County that have fashion programs. Students also find resources that are used in the fashion industry – a Pantone Color Guide, a trend forecast book, fabric headers, a look book, and a sample of a cost sheet. Occasionally, Latina Fashionista has organized of Latinas in the fashion and beauty business as part of these events.
“When a young woman identifies with another person like her, it validates that she can do it, too. Latina Fashionista inspires Latinas by focusing on their successes and acknowledging their hardships but instilling that support is nearby and we want them to succeed.” Roseanna said.
Latina Fashionista makes a point of following up on students’ careers and lives to see how their dreams take hold.
“Recently, I reconnected with a high school guidance counselor whose student was the recipient of our first scholarship for high school students. Adilene is now in law school. I feel that the conversations and accolades we gave her were instrumental in achieving her goals.”