How and where someone was raised can often influence many aspects of that person's life: ideas, habits, lifestyle, and passions. Such is the case with sisters Violeta and Jasmin of Hermanitas Boutique ― a San Antonio children's and women’s handmade clothing boutique.
Born out of the city’s west side, Violeta and Jasmin have been creating designs and clothing, while simultaneously paying tribute to their upbringing and cultura, years before they decided to become entrepreneurs. The creative duo have been passionate about clothing ever since their childhoods. When asked what inspired their passion for clothing, their answer was simple yet profound: “In our familia, we are surrounded by creative and talented individuals who sew. Our grandmother sewed, our mother and our aunts sew. Everyone specializes in sewing something different so we learned a little about everything. Clothing is special because it allows us to express ourselves on a daily basis.”
Hermanitas Boutique has now been in operation for nearly two years, creating an eclectic line of clothes and accessories that showcase cultural references to, for example, popular Spanish sayings (or dichos), Frida, and lotería, to name a few. And there’s no sign of the sisters slowing down any time soon.
We had a chance to catch up with Violeta and Jasmin via e-mail to learn more about their past experiences, current designs, their favorite tacos, and what they have planned next for Hermanitas Boutique.
BarbacoApparel (BA): Who's behind Hermanitas Boutique?
Hermanitas Boutique (HB): We are two Texas-raised Mexicanas who grew up on the west side of San Antonio. We have been creating and sewing little outfits for as long as we can remember. Whether we made outfits for our dolls or for one another, we have always had a love of handmade clothing.
BA: How did Hermanitas Boutique get started and why?
HB: In the very beginning we started by embellishing our kiddo's outfits with sayings in Spanish so our Mama could actually read them. Whenever our Mama shopped for our little ones she could never read what the English words on the outfits said. This got us asking why there weren’t more cute kids or women's clothing items that reflected more of the Mexican-American culture. This got all the ideas brewing of how we could create one-of-a-kind items that shared not only our native Spanish language but also reflected our cultura.
BA: I love that your designs are inspired by family and the local culture. How have these things shaped who and what Hermanitas Boutique has become today?
HB: Growing up we were surrounded by loving creative individuals who inspired and instilled in us to be proud of who we were and where we came from. We can now show this in our business and use our first language to do so.
BA: Most, if not all, of your clothing is handmade, right? What’s that process like for you all? Does it ever become difficult to fulfill large quantities because you’re doing everything handmade?
HB: Yes, the majority is handmade by one of us or with the help of our family. It’s a family business and when we have large orders all hands are on deck. Whether it’s one item or hundreds we treat them all like small batch quality products.
BA: Not only do you make clothing, but you also create other products like totes, plush toys, and bags, is that right? Are there any other products you are looking to create?
HB: Yes, our products are pretty diverse, we make what we love and the options are endless. Next on the horizon is teaming up with local artists that inspire us to add to our men's clothing line.
BA: We really like your Dichos de Abuelita (or "Grandma sayings") clothing line. I think a lot of people can relate to this because they were called something endearing by their grandma or loved ones at one point or another. Do you have plans to continue this line or do something related?
HB: Yes, and this is one of the things we hear the most from customers. We plan to do some new dichos soon and expand on the line with new artwork and updates on favorites that already exist.
BA: What have been some of the biggest challenges in starting your own business?
HB: Balance between our lives outside of Hermanitas Boutique. One of us has 3 children and a family to manage, as well as production of our items. The other works multiple jobs, travels for work constantly, and creates for the business.
BA: Do you feel that eventually we will see more clothing and product options geared toward Hispanics, the Mexican culture, and family traditions?
HB: Everyday we see more and more of everything geared towards Latinos. There will definitely be growth in this market.
BA: What can people expect to see from Hermanitas Boutique this year? Are you all working on new products and designs that you can tell us about?
HB: We are planning more collaborations with a few boutiques in San Antonio and Austin. New designs will launch in the fall and we couldn’t be more excited.
BA: I see that you’re working with local artist Adan Hernandez for the Vatos Locos T-shirt. How did your collaboration with Adan Hernandez come about? Was it something you all have been wanting to do for a while now?
HB: We were lucky enough to be invited to be a part of the event West Fest by Mark Anthony Martinez of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. Adan happened to be there presenting his artwork as part of an exhibit and we met, clicked and the rest is history.
BA: Do you think working with Adan Hernandez will lead you all to collaborate more with other artists?
HB: Yes, we love working with talented, inspiring people, especially when they are as involved in the community as us.
BA: Are there any local or national artists that inspire you, your work, or that you admire?
HB: We are inspired by Carmen Lomas Garza.
BA: Where do you see Hermanitas Boutique in the next couple of years?
HB: We see us expanding our t-shirt line as well as creating new products. We would also love to partner with a few non-profits in the community that really touch our hearts.
BA: If you weren’t doing Hermanitas Boutique, what would you likely be pursuing or would like to pursue?
HB: Creating a shop of our own had always been a dream of ours growing up. If we were not pursuing our dream job, Jasmin would continue to work managing businesses and freelancing for marketing agencies and I would continue to work as a bilingual teacher.
BA: Something else we have to ask: What’s your favorite taco or food?
HB: Jasmin’s favorite taco is a rice and bean taco. Violeta’s favorite is a carne asada taco.
BA: On a hot summer day, do you choose a raspa or paleta? And what kind or flavor?
HB: So we are raspa girls! Violeta’s favorite is chamoy or limón raspa and Jasmin likes blue coconut raspa with just a single scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
BA: Favorite restaurant in town?
HB: We are lucky to have grown up in San Antonio because we are surrounded by wonderful restaurants of every kind. To be honest one [of] our favorite restaurants is Tacos Martinez in the west side of San Antonio. We grew up grabbing tacos there with our family and this place holds a special place in our hearts. Every Sunday we were having barbacoa, caldo de res or Jasmin's favorite.
BA: Anything else you’d like to add or mention?
HB: We would like to thank you guys for taking the time to chat with us.
You can catch Hermanitas Boutique at the following recurring and upcoming events: Dignowity Hill Farmers Market (every 2nd & 4th Sunday of the month), Mercados de Oliva (every 1st & 3rd Saturday of the month), and Fiesta de la Amistad (October 22 – 23, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.).
For the latest on all things Hermanitas Boutique, be sure to visit their website at Hermanitasboutique.com and follow them on social media.