Jennifer Serrano did not think the 2016 presidential election would change her life in a good way. As a Mexican raised in the United States, the 27-year-old entrepreneur was devastated with the result. But then, she turned her feelings into political action by founding a design company that would later dress actors such as Jessica Alba and Eva Longoria with the “Latina Power” T-shirt.
“Around the 2016 elections I was feeling super defeated, frustrated and everything you can imagine so I created the ‘Latina Power’ shirt. Mostly it was just for myself, but then I listed it on my website and it did really well and then that shirt that’s the one kind of catapulted everything else and that’s when I decided that I wanted to create a brand that was just going to be about Latina empowerment,” Serrano said.
Sitting inside a well-known local coffee shop, 7th and Park, and with her planner next to her, Serrano continued on her journey with “Jen Zeano Designs” and what it means to be a Latina in the United States. She is currently on a partnership with the “Phenomenal” brand, a female-powered organization that brings awareness to social causes and creators of the “Phenomenal Woman” T-shirt.
“People, especially now, are more inclined to shop from women-owned businesses and even more so women-of-color businesses,” Serrano said. “It is a perfect time to open a business that is a reflection of yourself and your community and I feel that now is the time to own up to that and go with it.”
The partnership is aimed at creating awareness for Latina Equal Pay Day, which took place Nov. 20, and to call attention to the fact that there is still a gap in the amount of money Latina women make when compared to white men. According to a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Latina women make 54 cents per every dollar white men make, no matter what their job is, where they live or how much education and experience they have.
“It was surreal. I mean we’ve had our ‘Latina Power’ T-shirt on some celebrities … but then to see so many women and the impact that it had is amazing and so many people were talking about it and not just about my brand, obviously that was amazing, but so many people were talking about the message that we were trying to portray that it’s the pay gap that is still there and the fact that we have to speak up, use our platform and our voices to inspire change,” Serrano said.
The entrepreneur said she has no plans of leaving Brownsville. She added the company was born here and the culture in the Valley represents and inspires the brand.
“When I go out of town for pop-ups and they find out I’m from Brownsville, they always ask me how did I do it and how I found success if I’m from Brownsville,” she said.
“There is this misconception that if you’re from the Valley you’re never going to do anything and that is not true. There is so much talent here and there is so much culture; there are so many people doing so many amazing things that when you stop focusing on the talent elsewhere and realize how much talent there is here, and encourage it, and water it, it grows.”