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Meet Dora Xochitl Lopez Mata of Dora’s Tiendita in Inland Empire

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dora Xochitl Lopez Mata.

Dora Xochitl, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a MeXicana immigrant from Mexico, who is the first one in my family to graduate from college with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Gender, Ethnicity and Multicultural Studies and Master’s degree in Chicana/o Studies. I came to the United States when I was ten years old and worked in the fields with my family as a farmworker. Moving to the Norte (U.S) was life changing for me as we faced many struggles. Our original sleeping quarters was my uncle’s kitchen floor. We slowly transitioned to a room and eventually a one-bedroom house that we shared with my sister, dad, mom and myself. I believe that the struggles and challenges of my past have shaped me in the individual I am today. These challenges have also helped me to navigate life. It produced self -resourcefulness.

My mami (mom) had always fostered my passion for art. My mother, as well, had that same artistic passions. Back in Mexico, we used to help my mother paint barro (clay). I believe my dream of having a Tiendita was born at this point. During my childhood, I would play act that I was the owner of a Tiendita. As an undergraduate, I began to make headbands to support my dreams of going on a trip to the South of the Border. It wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I began to fully develop “Dora’s Tiendita.” My partner encouraged me to create earrings to help me cope with my stress. I had no idea of how to hand make these earrings; however, I had a vision, and with the support of my family, I began to practice and gifted out some of my creations. I started to get orders from my family, friends, and community. “Dora’s Tiendita” was born to take care of my mental health. My vision went from making jewelry to designing items that represented my experiences as a first generation, MeXicana, Feminist, Fat positive, and community organizer.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My journey as a business owner has not been an easy one. There are times when we all struggle. However, I think that is what makes my business a unique one. I have a whole community that I can count on when I need guidance. I am the one that wears many hats. Having a clear vision of my journey makes everything worth it. Honestly, every lesson I learned, throughout the way, has crafted a better business owner. I would not change this experience, these struggles, the lessons learned, for anything. I have met some fantastic individuals and thus, created a community. Throughout the struggles, I am happy to be doing something that I love. One of my biggest challenges was finding events to vendor my products. However, in the last two years, this has changed. I have become a vendor at Mujeres Market which is organized by Gloria Lucas from “Nalgona Positivity Pride.” Being a part of this event has helped me with visibility of my product and has provided me a space to grow as a vendor.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
“Dora’s Tiendita” is a business that celebrates the Latinx culture and brings awareness to current societal issues. I began this small business by making earrings. My most popular set of earrings are “Resistance Earrings.” These earrings inspired my community strength through my creativity. My culture and our society face many issues. We suffer from the “isms”-such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism.

I design earrings that embody resistance. People seem to really understand the meaning behind this design. I have shipped earrings to clients in Australia, Canada, Mexico, and in many areas of the United States. This design is one I am most known for. It makes me so happy to know that people seem to resonate with my work. I am also known for my cute stickers that have positive and empowering messages. I also design others that are straight out expressions of my feelings. My most popular ones are “Eres Poderosa,” “Fuck White Supremacy,” and “Brown Magic.”

At the beginning of my journey, “Dora’s Tiendita” only focused on my work. However, the more my changarro grows and develops, the vision for my business is moving forward towards a community business endeavor. Many of the items I make are not just created by me. Some of the many contributors to the business now include my mother, father, friends, partner, madrina, and other family members. The reason for this communal effort is to share our creations with our community and to be able to sustain ourselves by working together. The idea behind “Dora’s Tiendita” was and continues to be to find an item that empowers you and celebrates your culture. By being bold, unapologetic and just being you is the highlight and spotlight of “Dora’s Tiendita.” This philosophy is the part that I am most proud of. Additionally, I am also proud to be able to share this journey with my family, friends, and community. I am thankful for all the love that I receive every day.

This is what sets my business apart from others. I truly care for my customers, my clients, and my community. I believe that this is a great asset to my business. In addition, every creation that I have is made with tons of love.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up in Mexico, I was super outgoing. I assisted my mother with vending food and had a community. However, once we moved to the U.S, I became super shy. I was bullied as a kid and made fun for the way I dress. I remember getting home upset at my parents for bringing me to a place that did not feel like a home. Honestly, I did not realize that my parents had made tons of sacrifices to reunite us as a family. I think it also did not help that my biggest struggle back then was learning English. So, my mother would take us to the local library, which helped me. The more I read, the more confident I became. The librarians were so welcoming and always had a new book in Spanish or English for me. I would check out tons of books and every week return them. Books saved me and provided me with a glimpse of different worlds. I have always been a social person, so being able to communicate with others helped me. Growing up, I wanted to be an artist, but others advised me that artists do not survive. Sadly, I listen to their advice and put that dream on hold. However, now I know that art is life and look at me. I am currently an a Fat Chicana artist.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My business was created to support my dreams, my family, and my community. The credit for the idea of creating this business goes to my partner- Javier Gomez-Lopez (@adhd_Xicanoscholar). He has and continues to motivate and support me. He has a supporting role in my business. I could participate in the many events, without his help. He is also in charge of my marketing efforts. As for my parents, they are often sharing different ways to improve my business. For example, my dad is the one that helps with finding new contributors. He also has a huge part of the items we produce. My mother also accompanies me to events and often shares our story with others. She is also designing new items for our website. This a new exciting development.

Both my parents have taught me the gift of being resourceful. My resourcefulness is reflected in my business. I also want to give credit to my best friend, Yesica Catalan, for my beautiful logo, website, designs, merchandise, and photos. She is a big part of my success and we often check in with each other. It is about “checking in” and having a friend to sustain and “hold up” our mental health. Yesica has her own business (King Graphix Inc), which I always support.

Lastly, I would like to thank Gloria Lucas from “Nalgona Positivity Pride” for the accountability group that aided me to develop my business to the next level. It hasn’t been just me working on this dream- it has been a community effort. Also, a “shout out” to my fellow vendors for sharing their knowledge and for having each other’s back.

Pricing:

  • Stickers $3.00
  • Resistance Earrings $20.00
  • Shirts $25.00

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Pictures by Yesika Catalan (King Graphix Inc)

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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