How many times have you seen your favorite Latina actress star as maids for an upcoming film? If you have a hard time remembering, let me refresh your memory with a few. There was Jennifer Lopez's Maid in Manhattan (2002), Nadine Velasquez, My Name is Earl (2005), Paz Vega Spanglish (2004), Roselyn Sanchez, Judy Reyes, Edy Ganem, Dania Ramirez from Devious Maids (2013), to even Gina Rodriguez and Diane Guerrero in Jane The Virgin (2014). Are you seeing the pattern here?! It's as if America only thinks of Latinas as the help and Hollywood continues to cast us as maids.
Though many of us notice the casting issue in Hollywood, we continue to cheer on our Latina sisters for their accomplishments on making it to the big screen. But two Latinas have taken matters into their own hands by creating fashion-forward statement pieces. Childhood friends Ana Feliciano and Erika Hernandez were tired of seeing Latinas represented as just maids. The duo took their frustration and turned it fuel by creating their brand, Latina Made Not Maid. They created a chic' black and white adult top with the slogan 'Latina Made Not Maid' along with pins, kid shirts, and even bracelets in hopes to redefining Google's data of what a Latina's job represents. Business partners aren't just selling shirts for profit or style, their mission is to let the world know Latinas are business owners, doctors, Supreme Court Justice (Sonia Sotomayor), teachers, fashion designers and the list goes on. We caught up with the two creating the #LatinaMadeNotMaid hashtag movement below. Prepare to be inspired, fueled by Latinx pride, and ready to spend your coin on meaningful fashion.
PLUS: WTF? Latinos Shut Out of 2017 Emmys
How did you start the Latina Maid brand?
Erika: There's big Chicana empowerment movement happening on the West Coast and some parts of Texas as well. We decided to bring it to the East Coast cause we need some Latina empowerment over here always.
Ana: We've been friends for years, so it was a seamless partnership to go into business together, but I don't think of it like that. To me, it's more about the movement we are creating for our women.
MORE: Take A Stand For LGBT Rights In Brazil With This T-Shirt
What does Latina Made mean to the both of you?
Erika: I think that for me Latina Made is me, it's Ana it's yourself. And any other woman that pretty much wakes up every morning for a reason to fight, for a reason to succeed that no matter what comes their way they’re still standing. And I have no, we have, there’s nothing, we don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with being in the service industry, we all are. You know Ana is an educator, I’m a businesswoman and its okay to be a housekeeper, to be a maid and to be, but that’s not all. That's not it. That’s not the end of it all, you know what I mean. Maid in Manhattan is a great example of that. She became the manager of the department you understand. For me, Latina made is just a woman that wakes up every morning determined to fight and just do good for herself. And whatever makes her smile, whatever makes her happy, go for it and know that Ana, myself and this movement are right behind you. I think its anyone who's walking around with all of these small successes and small victories in their pocket but they still feel like something because people do count on them. For us its like you know, it's not about how many battles you’ve won, it’s about winning the war. You might lose one round, three four or five but at the end of the game you’ve probably won it and that for us is what it's all about.
There has been a huge discussion on Hollywood's lack of Latinas on the big screen when you were young did you see yourself represented? Today, do you feel you "see" yourself in film, shows etc?
Erika: I remember seeing Iris Chacon on television, but other than that it was typically on the Spanish-speaking networks. They would make the novelas super dramatic and sometimes depict a mean image of Latinas doing mean things to one another. I didn't really see much of what we see today, but I still don't think it's enough.
Ana: We were having a huge discussion about this the other day, and today the only woman I feel represents Latinas in America is Lisa Vidal from Being Mary Jane. She's a top producer for one the biggest news networks, works hard, balances her work and life. In the show she goes through a divorce, she's someone many Latinas today can relate too. We're not always maids, immigrants, or sex symbols like flamenco dancers. In the show she brings the hustler out that every Latin woman can relate too, she does say Spanish comments here and there -- and that's real life. That's how I am at work, and I am sure I'm not the only one.
How can other women get involved? Latina and other ethnicities?
We accept everyone Latina or non-Latinas, we actually have already featured a non-latina in LA and part of the fashion industry. For her, it was very important to join the movement so that she can speak out and say hey, you know, the women in the back, behind the curtain that sew, cut and print are Latina women. They don't get shine and we have an African American who lives in Puerto Rico who also jumped into the movement. So for us, joining the movement means, get yourself a t-shirt, you understand because you're giving back to a first generation Latina and share your story on our website. We have a page dedicated to all the women who have purchased a t-shirt and have shared their story. They say you know, from doctors to lawyers to engineers, to registered nurses, bloggers and that's joining the movement. We want to be able to get into that featured latina page on our site and that there are thousands of women you know saying I’m latina and I do this and this is where I started and here’s where I am. So that's basically joining the movement.
We would like to give an extra thank you to all those who have bought a shirt! Remember, you didn't just buy a shirt. You’re starting a conversation, making a statement, and contributing to a first generation Latina going to college! If you have received your shirt, let's get to work! Share your story with us and get featured on our website! #Linkinbio #LatinaMadeNotMaid @latinamadenotmaid
I understand the proceeds of the purchase people are making are going to a scholarship fund. Can you explain a bit about that?
Erika: Well, it was very important like I’m the philanthropist, I’m the one who believes in giving back. I knew that we couldn’t make this move without thinking long term. That's why it was important for us to get some kind of a platform or showcase to separate that, we're not just selling t-shirts.
Ana: For us, it was very important that there was something to give back to the community, besides making people aware that the stereotype was alive and well. Giving back was important to me and being that I am an educator, it was just right to combine the two and put the proceeds to benefit our Latinas. The scholarship fund is set to send one or a few girls to college who will be the first generation to attend a university.
To join the movement, get yourself a Latina Made shirt, pin, or simply donate here. These two bold and intelligent women are making a statement to our country and you can too!