In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, taking place September 15-October 15 in the United States, we’re sharing the work and stories of some of the many inspiring artists, makers, and entrepreneurs from the Latino community on Faire.
This week, we’re highlighting Five15 Creative, an art and illustration shop based out of Vancouver, Canada. We spoke with founder and owner Angie Quintanilla Coates about single-handedly growing her own business, lessons from entrepreneurship, and her continual efforts to give back.
Taking the leap
For Angie, the adoption of her dog from a rescue shelter was the catalyst for her now successful business. “I was so enamored with the rescue organization we adopted her from that I decided to create enamel pins for them as a fundraiser,” she said. Those pins grew in popularity, and soon people were requesting their own personalized versions. “That was the excuse I needed to finally jumpstart my business,” Angie said.
Angie had always been a creative person, but until she launched her own business, art was just a hobby reserved for free time. Before opening her business in 2016, she spent time working in graphic design, as a hairdresser, and as an assistant to a business owner, where she learned many of the management skills she uses today. Angie always dreamt of owning her own business, and with the success of her enamel pins, she finally decided to take the jump. “I started working with my amazing business coach who reminded me, ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’”
Today, Angie creates bright and colorful illustrations that focus on mental health and social justice, from prints that say things like “take up space” and “breathe” to stickers, t-shirts, and mugs that read “equality is cool” and “love urself”. Her mission is to use her art and platform as a voice for equality and to portray messages of hope, joy, and optimism.
Through her brand’s Instagram page, Angie regularly posts about issues she cares about, turning timely issues into vibrant and poignant illustrations. “I try to trust that if I’m passionate about something, other people will resonate with it,” she said. “All I wish for is that people can find a joyful reprieve through my art and products.”
Since the company’s founding, Angie has stayed true to fundraising efforts that kickstarted the business. She donates a portion of her profits to a different organization each quarter, from an LGTBQ+ nonprofit in Vancouver to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and more. “There’s no shortage of causes I care about,” she said. “It felt right to keep giving back as part of my business.”
When it comes to creating her unique products, Angie gathers inspiration from all corners of her life, from the shows and podcasts she enjoys to music and the work of other artists she admires. “If I’m in the right mindset, everything is inspiring,” she said. “The key is to have quiet time to let the ideas come.” Angie finds that setting aside time to spend in quiet spaces, particularly in nature, allows her ideas to grow.
To find that peaceful time, she had to learn the art of pacing herself. “I’m first and foremost a creative person, and sometimes I find it hard to schedule that time to just be creative,” Angie said. Today, Angie puts her shop on pause every so often to have time to rest and recuperate. “Our most valuable resource is investing in our wellbeing and mental health,” she said. “Everything else is secondary.”
Celebrating Latino artists
Born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, Angie’s culture and heritage are entwined in her everyday life, including her art and business. She credits her works’ vibrant palette and messages of optimism to her upbringing. During Hispanic Heritage Month, Angie is using her platform to share her culture and everything she loves about it with others, from illustrations of her favorite foods from Mexico to Latino artists she admires. “I view this month as an opportunity to highlight the brilliance and badassness of our culture,” she said. “It’s also a great time for people to discover new Latino-owned businesses that they can shop from year-round.”
Angie advises anyone looking to support Latino-owned businesses this month and year-round to make a conscious effort to discover artists and makers from different backgrounds. “Rather than looking at it as an obligation to check a diversity box, reframe it as an exciting process,” she said. “You gain so much from being exposed to diverse cultures. It’s not only important, it’s also really cool to learn from the people around you.”
Angie is passionate about reminding fellow entrepreneurs in the Latino community to dream big. “We need to be convinced that there is a market and demand for our voices, because there is,” she said. “Continuing to support and uplift each other is so important.” She also advises Latino makers to not be afraid to charge what they’re worth, and to advocate for themselves. “Latinas make the least amount of money of all demographics,” she said. “But we are worthy. Our culture is so resilient and hardworking. We need to take up space.”