We have the privilege of having an exchange with Daughter of an Immigrant founders Karen Garcia and Leslie Garcia, who founded the label in 2017 with a goal of celebrating the immigrant experience. Making a potent statement, the brand’s crewnecks, jackets and t-shirts are detailed with messaging proudly claiming immigrant status and, as Leslie explains, “The statement enters the room before you do.”
Daughter of an Immigrant was tapped by Foot Locker to create a capsule For the retailer’s Behind Her Label program, designed to help support and amplify independent brands lead by women. The label’s offerings will launch in October 2021 along with Liv Streetwear and Cortijo S whose interviews you can find here and here.
Check out our exchange with Daughter of an Immigrant below and check out there store here.
Snobette: From what I’ve read your families are from Mexico and Cuba. How did you two meet and how long after did you form Daughter of an Immigrant?
Karen Garcia: I was born in Nicaragua I came to L.A. at nine months old. At some point we moved to Venezuela and then returned to L.A.”
Leslie Garcia: “My mother is from Mexico and my dad is from Cuba and he has passed. We met at church when when we were teenagers so we’ve been friends for 20 years.”
“We launched Daughter of an Immigrant in September 2017. During that time, there was a lot of immigrant-related news coverage. The president was using strong language around the immigrant experience, horrendous language that didn’t make sense to us. He was speaking about our families and we wanted to create a brand that centered and celebrated our experience. Karen herself is an immigrant. We wanted to take some control back of our stories.”
Karen Garcia: “For a long time, growing up in LA, we were often told to be silent and we thought it was a good time to put that kind of thinking aside in the name of echoing the beauty of who our families are and where they’re from.”
Snobette: What shared first-gen experience is something you two immediately connected over?
Karen Garcia: “We share a lot of that first gen drive and ability to be resourceful. As friends growing up together, we’ve always been supportive of each other in school and through career changes. We’ve cried together and have been proud of each other together. We’ve chosen each other as families. And we come from families where if you’re not blood you’re not family so part of the first gen experience is changing traditions.”
Snobette: Your design aesthetic and messaging is very clean and clear. Is there intention behind that?
Leslie Garcia: “There’s definitely a passion and a purpose. We wanted to make a bold statement on a classic crew and the choice of the collegiate font was important. The statement enters the room before you do.”
“Over the weekend I went to Trader’s Joes and I saw a customer in the shirt. And I approached her, and was like, ‘This is weird but can I get a photo?’ She told me she really appreciates that the shirt makes a statement so she doesn’t have to. It can be uncomfortable to talk about the immigrant experience. If you’re raised to keep it quiet or assimilate, it’s hard to have a conversation. The boldness is on purpose to give voice to someone who may not be as comfortable.
Karen Garcia: “We also use a rose motif, one rose for first gen and two roses for second gen. We just recently put out a ‘I’m coming for everything my family crossed for’ jacket and there’s a rose, something beautiful but it does have thorns.”
Snobette: “There’s an activist element to your label. When it comes to advocating for positive change in your community, are you more drawn to changing elected representatives or working with local non profits?Leslie Garcia: “As a brand we want to connect our consumers to nonprofits doing the work. We understand there’s an activist element, but we are not a non profit. All the election conversations about Latino voters were very interesting to us. We’ve known we’re not a monolith. We’re in the community and in the DMs with our customers and we’re okay with that.”
Karen Garcia: “The people who wear Daughter of an Immigrant vary just like our communities. We’ve had chefs, life coaches, entrepreneurs, one woman told us she only flies in our shirt. To me that is that activism.”
Leslie Garcia: “When the new president specifically called the vice president the daughter of an immigrant, that was such a moment for us. You can dislike the VP, but this is the common ground that we share.”
Snobette: You are working with Foot Locker as part of the Behind Her Label platform. What have you learned from working with Foot Locker on the project?
Karen Garcia: “Just the importance they put in every design. I’m a Foot Locker lover, I’m a sneakerhead and I shop there, it’s my second home. What happens behind the scene for one shirt or one design is mind blowing.
Snobette: How has the collaboration impacted your reach as a brand?Leslie Garcia: “Being able to partner with Foot Locker has given our brand legitimacy and street cred. It means a lot to be supported by a global brand like Foot Locker. We hope it inspires our community. That’s always very important to us.”
Karen Garcia: “Foot Locker sent an email out announcing the collaboration and we got a lot of buys from that along with people came to our Instagram and that was impressive.”
Snobette: What do you have planned for the Behind Her Launch in October?
Leslie Garcia: “Something new that will definitely celebrate the experience of being the Daughter of an Immigrant.”
Snobette: What three sneakers are at the top of your current sneaker rotation?
Leslie Garcia: “That’s definitely a Karen question. You should see her sneaker wall, it’s ridiculous.”
Karen Garcia: “Air Jordan 1 in university blue and I also got the Converse “My Story” sneaker celebrating women and of course your classic black Converse Chuck 70 in high or low.”
Snobette: If you could provide some advice to yourself as a young girl as it relates to being the daughter of an immigrant, what would you tell her?
Leslie Garcia: “I would tell her that to dream outside the box her family has drawn for her. I would remind her what her family needed to survive she doesn’t have to necessarily do that to survive.”
Karen Garcia: “I would say, take advantage of all the endless opportunities that are here in this country and be brave and don’t be afraid to explore. You belong here and you will find people who will support your crazy dreams like Foot Locker There are still good people that will want to see you succeed. Don’t give up.”
Snobette: What is your vision for Daughter of an Immigrant?
Karen Garcia: “With every vision, there’s a mission. I think the community has helped us fulfill our mission. The mission was finding a customer able to relate, creating a common ground even though we’re all from different places. Letting the world know they matter and they matter to us.”