Q. How did you create Selva Negra?
A. Sam and I started Selva Negra by sketching our ideas out at my tiny apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I was about to move back home to California so we decided to make our sketches into a reality by using some old fabrics that were left by other NY designers at this cutters office. We hand made everything and hosted a giant party with our friends and families. From there we hustled our Instagram and kept launching collections while holding down our full time jobs.
Q. Is there a story behind the name?
A. When we were sketching out clothes, we went home for the holidays and both came back with the word “Selva “ in our notebooks so we knew we wanted to incorporate our Latina heritage while finding a beautiful name, hence Selva Negra, also known as Black Forest.
Q. In your wildest dreams- did you think you would have created such an amazing brand by now?
A. I absolutely did not. I had no idea we could create something like this, but we are thankful for the opportunity our lives have presented us with.
Q. What would you like to see your brand grow into in the future?
A. We want to grow our community and host more in-person events where we can continue to share stories and ideas. We think it's crucial to make sure our customers feel good about their purchase knowing that not only do they look amazing, but also contributing to a line of hard-working and fair wage of individuals.
Q. Which of your past projects or jobs led you to be able to create your own brand
A. I worked for this incredible couture bridal designer, Samantha Sleeper, who literally made everything herself and still does to this day. She taught me the meaning of hard work while also having fun in the process.
Q. In your opinion, what does it take to start a clothing line?
A. So many things, but I'll just name a few: grit, patience, organization, time management, and a really healthy avenue for stress management.
Q. Has it been what you imagined thus far?
A. Not at all! I always knew the work would be difficult, but nobody tells you how to figure it all out. No matter how many books and articles I read (also listening to podcasts) there is nothing that truly prepares you for starting your own clothing business. The fact that we are still here 4 years later, always makes me want to pinch myself to see if it's a reality.
Q. Selva Negra's line feels very authentic and is heavily influenced by your Latina heritage, tell me more about why that's important to your brand.
A. While we were building the brand and making our first collection by hand, I was going through a difficult time as my grandfather was in the midst of passing from prostate cancer. I was also in the process of moving back to California to be closer to my family since they mean the world to me. Sam and I knew we wanted to bring awareness to the Latinx community and how possible it is to follow your dreams. Especially since our parents were immigrants who worked so hard to give us opportunities they never had. With this in mind, we had to make sure this value of family and relationships are shown through our branding and marketing efforts.
Q. Words to live by Kristen Gonzalez?
A. Keep your dearest relationships close to you, take your time, and don't sweat the small stuff.