NB: As a Latina, how does your background play into everything you do every day?
PD: I think my upbringing is my superpower. It’s what brought me to the career at Hija de tu Madre. It’s made so many connections and brought so many other opportunities, as we connect over culture.
Culture is so sacred to me. It’s a value that’s really led me to where I am now, and it keeps leading me to new opportunities. So I always lead with culture and those values.
NB: What is the biggest risk you’ve had pay off in your career?
PD: I think definitely building this company is the biggest risk that I’ve taken, and I don’t even really think of it as a risk, I’m sure other people do, but to me it was knowing the opportunity and just investing in it. Investing in this itch, creating a Latina lifestyle brand and constantly feeding that itch. It started slowly growing and snowballing, and it doesn’t feel like a risk anymore. It feels just like I took a chance and I bet on myself.
NB: And what’s your advice to those that are feeling that “itch”?
PD: I think being in a space that is welcoming of your ideas. If you’re surrounded by peers that are very comfortable in their own life and career and play it safe, don’t ask them for advice.
Surround yourself with the risk-takers, the weirdos, the creatives. I think those are the people that are going to hold you accountable. Have your accountability group to really share ideas and grow. That’s how I got started. I started doing events and projects with other jefas in my community and now I think we’re all really killing it. But it’s because we had that support system so early on, and we could rely on each other to get s*it done.
NB: How do you use your work as a vehicle to bring about change in our community?
PD: I think every time I embark on a new project or a new product drop, the intention and thought behind it is always, how is this an honest and authentic portrayal of our community? Is this authentic to me? Does this speak to my community? And I think that’s how we bring change, by being true to ourselves and really speaking on issues that connect us as a community.
For example, we created this no sabo collection a couple of months ago. No sabo is a poor translation of no sé, and it’s very common for little kids learning how to speak English and Spanish. I was one of those kids.
So to create a whole collection based around this grammatically incorrect phrase that speaks so intimately to the experiences of growing up biculturally, I think that’s how we make change. By speaking to these really honest experiences and then creating mass connections to have a conversation about the difficulties of being bilingual or being multicultural and open up bigger dialogues.
I think that’s how we create changes, by opening up a really honest and safe conversation around culture.
NB: What part of your Latino culture inspired you growing up, or it still affects you today?
PD: I think something that always comes up are my parents’ phrases. My mom is a Mexican immigrant and English is her second language, so all those phrases that I grew up hearing, Hija de tu Madre being one of them, somehow find their way into my life, whether it’s through work or just my personal life.
When I was wearing a crazy outfit, my mom would say “pareces chile, mole, pozole,” and now I use that with my friends and it opens up a conversation. I get to share a little bit about my childhood and how my mom would talk to me.
Language and those phrases that can’t be accurately translated remind me of home. I think it’s the language that always brings me back and makes me feel safe.
NB: What was your ponte las pilas moment?
PD: About six years ago I got a bill from the Department of Tax and Fee Administration of California and I didn’t even know what to do with that. Figuring out how to file sales taxes was one of those ponte las pilas early entrepreneur moments. Luckily, my mom is an accountant and she is in the trenches with my finances.
I think as a female entrepreneur or even as a woman, there’s this pressure to do it all. You have to be a good partner, you have to be a good mom, you have to be a good friend, and you have to be a good boss, you have to do all of them good.
I’m in a place right now where I understand that I can’t be good at everything. I can be a great creative strategist, but I am not the best person for billing and operations. So I’m not going to let myself feel guilty anymore, and I’m not going to make everyone else suffer because I do a terrible job at these things. Now, I’m going to empower other people to take on those responsibilities, and that’s what being a true jefa is all about.
NB: Who is your Atrevida/o/e preferida/o/e?
PD: Somebody that comes to mind is my friend Kat. She’s a personal trainer and recently opened Babes of Wellness, a women’s fitness center in Compton, California. A very innovative concept, it is inclusive of all genders, and it is not about losing weight or having a very specific body type. It’s just about encouraging people to work out.
I’ve never seen anything like that before, and I’m very inspired by how she’s been able to meet this need of women that want to go to gyms and want to feel safe. It is not that stereotypical gym that makes you feel bad about yourself.
NB: Whose work right now do you find really exciting and why?
PD: As cliché as this might sound, Bad Bunny. I love him as a musical artist and I love reggaeton, which is typically a machista world. He is bringing this softness to it, this gender-bending, and suddenly reggeaton doesn’t feel so like masculine and scary. It feels more inclusive, and I think that is exciting.
It’s also very exciting to watch him influencing culture; all my TikTok is Bad Bunny content. He’s such a perfect example of how Latinidad is mainstream, it is not just a diverse market anymore. This is the mass market and he’s not playing around.
NB: ¿Suerte o sudor? What percentage do you attribute your success to in terms of luck vs. hard work?
PD: I think luck is misunderstood. To me, it is about knowing how to seize an opportunity. It’s about timing. If the timing is right, the work makes it last longer. But if the timing is wrong, or if it’s not a real opportunity, what’s the point of the hard work? So I think for me it’s mostly hard work, but maybe the 10-15% is knowing when to take the right moment and make the best of it.
NB: Is there any piece of advice you want to give someone who wants to be an Atrevida/o/e and make it?
PD: The only piece of advice that I have, and this one goes especially to women, is to learn how to validate yourself very soon.
When you find yourself in a creative position and you want feedback or you start questioning if you should take that risk, start that project, launch that business, etc. You need to ask yourself first. Feedback and advice is great, but you really need to learn how to validate those needs and those dreams for yourself.