logo2

Miicamisa Folk-Urban Wear is leading the way in providing urban yet cultural folklorico wear for folklóristas. With a modest beginning in David and Irene Gonzalez’s garage three years ago, Miicamisa has grown from providing folklórico wear to the Central Valley in California to fulfilling orders across the country. Its owner and head designer, Chalome Gonzalez is a young, down to earth folklórista who also teaches at a high school and community college part-time. I had the opportunity to interview Chalome to learn more about Miicamisa and her inspiration behind her designs.

chalome individual

It’s All About Folklórico: How did Miicamisa begin?

Chalome Gonzalez: My mother was a director of El Sol Dance Company, a folklórico troupe in Fresno, CA. I grew up surrounded by folklórico and dance. I remember running around the dance studio and using skirts as blankets for nap time. As a teen, I was always drawing, doodling, and creating, and I always wanted to wear my art. I painted on t-shirts, shoes, pants…anything to represent myself and wear my own art. At 22, I began teaching myself to screen print. It was very difficult; I even wanted to quit a few times. I kept working at it and I took over my parent’s garage with equipment, paints, and t-shirts. I began making shirts for some local churches and businesses in Fresno. After printing shirts for others, I began to create my own designs again; this time inspired by folklórico. I thought, “If ballet dancers, hip hop dancers, and jazz dancers have t-shirts to show their love for dance, why can’t folklórico dancers?” So I wore my first design to practice, and everyone in the group loved it and wanted to buy one. I was in shock that people really liked my designs and were willing to pay for them. I began making more designs inspired by folklórico and word spread to each of the folklórico groups in town. People from LA and the Bay Area saw the shirts I posted on my Facebook and wanted to buy them as well but we didn’t know how to create a website since it was very expensive to have one made. Luckily our family friend, Alfredo Ponce, who just happened to dance folklórico with El Sol, knew how to create websites and got us online. This is our 3rd year in business as Miicamisa and it’s been so great. Now we can ship all over the U.S. and folklórico dancers everywhere can wear their pride on their chest!

It’s All About Folklórico: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

Chalome Gonzalez: Everywhere! I look at t-shirts online or at the mall and see what’s popular or what I would wear. Then I would add a folklórico twist or my own ideas. I try to think, if I wear this shirt, what statement am I making? I want Miicamisa to be positive and showcase Latinos in a strong way. I hate when I see shirts that say negative things about our culture. For example, if you look up Mexican or Latino shirts online, you see ‘Borracho, Im your Papi, etc;” sayings that are just negative. So I want to kind of change that. Even if its just a t-shirt, I want people to wear it and feel proud, like “Yes, I dance folklórico, I love my culture, I’m in college, I’m a role model!”

It’s All About Folklórico: I am a huge fan of your social media, in particular Instagram! How do you guys come up with ideas for the posts you create?

Chalome Gonzalez: Well again I see what others are doing and then try to flip it! I saw a lot about #flashbackfriday so I thought I’ll post old pictures of me dancing folklórico and call it #folkloricofriday . Then I asked others to do it and people really caught on to it. Again why can we not have our own hashtag day. Now every Friday, I try to create a meme to go with Folklórico Friday. Sometimes its hard; some I don’t get as many “likes.” I try to figure out what people like but its just about putting it out there and seeing the response. Over all social media has allowed us to expand and get to know our customers. We have some people who as soon as they purchase from our store, they keep coming back. We get to have conversations with people online, make connections, and get immediate feedback on ideas. A lot of times they are helping me create the designs. It’s been really great using social media and seeing our customers post about their shirt! We also try to do contests online through Facebook and Instagram and people love that as well!

Miicamisa team

It’s All About Folklórico: What advice would you give to a young folklórista who hopes to start a business one day?

Chalome Gonzalez: Definitely go for it, but I think you have to be different. If you can find one thing about your business that is different from others, you will stand out. I could have kept making t-shirts with no theme, no reason, like all the screen printers in the central valley, but I saw a lack in folklórico inspired wear and tapped into that. So my advice is to find something that isn’t out there on the market or try to make your business a little different from all of the other businesses like it. If you like doing it, keep doing it! To me, designing and creating shirts is not work because I love it. I can spend all day doing it and I’m happy.

Thank you Chalome for agreeing to be interviewed. I hope everyone checks out Miicamisa Folk-Urban Wear’s website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to purchase some of the latest folklórico fashion.

Photos courtesy of MiiCamisa Folk-Urban Wear.

Advertisements