In recognition and celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, taking place September 15-October 15, we’ve been sharing the stories and work of some of the incredible entrepreneurs from the Latino community on Faire. Throughout the month, we’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Angie Quintanilla Coates, founder of art and illustration shop Five15 Creative, Nydia Orosco, founder of children’s shoe brand Piccolo Shoes, and Jen and Vero Zeano, co-founders of apparel brand JZD.
For our final feature in celebration of the month, we’re highlighting Florida-based illustration and design brand, Bloomwolf Studio. We spoke with co-founder Betsy Garcia about pivoting her career to pursue creativity, promoting social change through art, and the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Just a few months before deciding to open up her own illustration business, Betsy Garcia had been studying to take her medical school entrance exam while teaching middle school science part-time. To help ease the stress and pressure of the upcoming test, Betsy began drawing again for the first time in years. When her husband, Luis Sosa, gifted her a drawing tablet, her passion and love for art was renewed.
With Luis’s encouragement, Betsy decided to forego her medical career in lieu of launching a business together. Luis used his skills as a software engineer to build a website for Bloomwolf Studio, and from there, their entrepreneurial journey was born. With Betsy’s newfound purpose and determination and Luis’s unwavering support, the business grew, with the pair exhibiting at national trade shows and hundreds of pop-up markets across the country.
Today, Betsy’s products are carried in over 400 shops and boutiques nationwide—but the journey hasn’t always been an easy one. “I’m a first-generation Mexican American and Luis was born in Cuba,” Betsy said. “Neither of our family or extended family has ever run a business. When we started we had to dive in and learn as much as possible.”
Navigating the new world of entrepreneurship meant a lot of research, trial and error, and combatting imposter syndrome. They sought guidance from a community of fellow small business owners and continued to face these new challenges head-on, ultimately growing the business into a brand that was true to their vision and beliefs. “We learned that the key is to build a community of people that love who you are and what you stand for, and then create products with them in mind,” Betsy said.
Art as a tool for change
Drawing inspiration from Mexican culture and folk art, Betsy uses bright colors, flowers, plants, and patterns to convey messages of friendship, hope, and love through her work. Her ultimate mission is to spread joy and promote change through her illustrations. “I try to create products that make people happy and artwork that allows customers to feel seen and validated,” she said. She hopes that people can feel a connection to her artwork and use it as a way to express themselves.
Much of Betsy’s art is also created with the goal of raising awareness for social change, and her beliefs are evident through much of her illustrations. “We’re not afraid of making our items too feminine, endearing, or ‘political,’” Bloomwolf’s website reads. “We feel it is our duty to advocate for and support what we feel is right. We believe that art can help change the world.” That belief is demonstrated through the many vibrant prints, stickers, and pins that include phrases like “love is love,” and “the future is female”. Bloomwolf Studio also makes it a point to give back by donating 100% of the proceeds from their Black Lives Matter prints to the ACLU and other organizations dedicated to fighting systemic racism.
A well-deserved spotlight
As a first-generation Mexican-American, Betsy grew up with a lot of the same customs, traditions, and lessons that her parents did while in Mexico. “Like many others in the Latino community, Hispanic heritage is something we celebrate all the time because it’s a part of our life,” she said. For Betsy, Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to share her culture with others, and for those outside of the Latino community to learn more about their history, contributions, and accomplishments. “This month means that a well-deserved spotlight is placed on the beauty and richness of our heritage, and to me, that is something to be proud of.”
Betsy hopes this spotlight remains throughout the year. She encourages people to purchase goods from Latino-owned businesses and amplify their work on social media or in the community. She also emphasizes that supporting the Latino community can also happen through education. “Consumers and retailers can support Latino-owned businesses year-round by learning more about our culture and what makes us unique,” she said.
Today, Betsy makes it a point to incorporate her upbringing and culture into her life and work, whether it’s by creating cards in both English and Spanish, or through the bright florals and unique patterns of Mexican folk art in her illustrations. She hopes that her work will inspire and motivate other hopeful business owners in the Latino community. “If you don’t see a lot of other Latino entrepreneurs doing what you want to be doing, don’t be intimidated,” she said. “Your work is important and there’s room for you at the table.”