Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Gonzalez.
Jennifer, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As a child growing up in sunny San Diego, I spent most of my time sketching, making random pieces of clothing and surrounding myself with my favorite vintage fashion magazines. I would often spend hours daydreaming in a world full of creations from the pages of Hola, Vogue, Elle, and Bazzar. Inspired, I would venture off into my mom’s closet, deconstruct what I thought were her old blouses, and emerge with my “improved” versions. While these experiences got me into lots of trouble, they marked the start of my passion for textiles and garments.
In 2007, I enrolled at Long Beach City College and completed an Associate Degree for Apparel Merchandising. I then transferred to Cal Poly Pomona where I received a B.S. in Apparel Merchandising and Management, with an Emphasis in Production. While in college, my passion for production and all the various facets involved continued to grow. I was fascinated by the complexities; the numerous steps needed to create and sell a single garment. I always found myself wanting to know and learn more.
About five years into my career, I had a wake-up call that changed my life. As I progressed in my career, I became increasingly aware of the waste, bad labor practices, pollution and deep exhaustion of resources that came along with producing apparel. At the same time, I also began to see that by appealing to consumers who valued more than just style, quality, and price, we could have an impact on changing bad production habits and soon I was asking myself “What can I do to make it better?”
In 2018, after over 10 years of working in the apparel industry for key players and feeling burned out, I reached a point in my life where it was time for me to switch gears and work towards my own goals. There was no grand plan or glamorous launch but a simple conversation in my living room one summer day that made me realize I had an idea worth sharing.
Born and raised in southern California, swimwear was always an integral part of my wardrobe. As a once a competitive swimmer I saw an opportunity to combine my passions of swim and fashion and knew I had to act quick. The following week, I filed all the legal paperwork plus permits and just like that… Chika Boom Boom was born.
I feel really blessed to have taken this risk in my life to launch my own business. I can run Chika Boom Boom in a way that aligns with the core values close to my heart. Not all days are easy, and we are still figuring things out every day, but it’s encouraging to know that I am not just making swimwear but also improving the way we make apparel in a better, more ethically responsible way, one bikini at a time. Over the course of my career, I feel that the void I was missing was the real purpose and now I feel that even though the light at the end of the tunnel is still far off at least I’m in the tunnel.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The whole process has been a roller coaster of emotions. Every day has a new opportunity or challenge I must face, but it has all been rewarding and worth the risk. When I first started developing the business in 2018 I had some idea of what I was doing, but quickly found out that I had much to learn. I am fortunate enough to have amazing friends and family in my life who have always been there to support me and cheer me on, but it’s true what they say about having to tap into all of your resources when you start your own business and my biggest challenge has always been asking for help.
I had a conversation once with a career coach that I’ll never forget where she asked, “Think of a time when you asked someone for something that changed your life dramatically, but would not have ever happened if you didn’t ask?” This question always comes to mind when I feel too scared or intimidated to ask for help because it reminds me of all the times in my life when I have put aside my fear and asked for those things that did truly impact my life. Specifically, when it comes to business, I have realized I need to be fearless in how I approach asking for more money from potential investors or asking for collaborations and partnerships. There will be the occasional “NO” but there are always more opportunities and the only true “NO” is if I stop pushing myself every day.
My advice to other women or just any person starting their own business is to just take things as they come. There is always a lesson to be learned or new opportunities that will lead to unexpected results. Embrace every moment from the good, the bad and the ugly because it will all help to mold and prepare you to be better equipped as your business grows.
Please tell us about Chika Boom Boom.
Chika Boom Boom is a women’s swimwear brand & curated online boutique based out of Los Angeles CA. It was born out of the recognition that most swimwear brands cater to a very narrow and specific body type, inconsistent with the way most women are built. We believe that all body types are beautiful and deserving of fun, chic, form-fitting suits. As such, we offer a variety of suites designed to fit a range of body types with the goal of making the everyday woman feel anything but.
Our original swimwear is designed in Southern California with fit, color, and fabric quality as the focus. We care deeply about the environment and are committed to looking for the most efficient and low impact ways of making our swimwear. In addition to producing locally, which reduces the carbon footprint associated with overseas shipping, we make every effort to source materials locally whenever possible. We also look to use fabrics that are made or sourced in the USA with minimal impact on the environment, printing techniques that consume less water or purchase fabrics from local distributors that would otherwise end up in landfills. We will not compromise quality but challenge ourselves to use what we have locally to make the best product possible. This commitment as business pushes us to make better products and benefit all people involved. Our hope is to continue growing and learning about better ways to make the product we love and encourage our customers to come along on our journey.
Often it feels as if the media, by and large, is only focused on the obstacles faced by women, but we feel it’s important to also look for the opportunities. In your view, are there opportunities that you see that women are particularly well-positioned for?
I feel that in recent years we continue to see more women break through into entrepreneurship and areas of business in general that have historically been dominated by men. We are in a time where there is an opportunity for women to do just about anything and we are seeing more women help women do this. The more each of us focuses on growing our own skills regardless of being female, the better equipped we are becoming to take on the roles we want in this world.
- One-Piece suits- $65-95
- Bikini Tops/ Bottoms- $35-65
- Website: www.chikaboomboom.com
- Phone: 6198524735
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cbb_swim/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CBBSWIM/
RickNation Photo, Gisela Prishker Photography