November 20 marks Latina Equal Pay Day, the day in which Latina pay finally catches up to that of white men from the previous year. With LEPD as the last observance of Equal Pay Day, Latinas have to work all that much harder to achieve non-Hispanic men’s earnings from 2018. According to Equal Pay Today, “Latina's typically earn only 54 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men and must work nearly 23 months to earn what white men earn in 12 months.” Not cool.
Nonetheless, Latinas are spreading awareness and are making their voices be heard in many ways, including t-shirts. Never underestimate the power of words and a t-shirt when it comes to making a bold statement. Although tees are the most basic item in fashion, they're also the most essential, especially when they have the words "Latina Power" emblazoned across the front.
Ahead of LEPD, HOLA! USA chatted with Texas-based designer, Jennifer Serrano, who's behind the celebrity-loved t-shirts Latina stars such as Diane Guerrero, America Ferrera and Gina Rodriguez among others are rocking. In partnership with the Phenomenal Women Action Campaign, her brand Jen Zeano Designs has brought back the beloved Latina Power tee, which isn’t only as cute as it’s empowering, but proceeds from every purchase will benefit the Justice for Migrant Women organization. "Our shirts are a reminder that we are poderosas (powerful) and worthy. They are also a reminder that we must continue to take up space and use our voices to receive equal pay."
Keep reading to find out how the Mexico-born entrepreneur is using her creative business for good in the Latinx community.
When did you start designing, and what inspired you to start this whole brand?
“I actually started in 2015, but I didn't start on shirts. I would hand draw on mugs, then slowly but surely we kind of started growing. When I designed the Latina power shirts, it was around the election time, and I was just feeling super helpless and frustrated. I designed the Latina power shirt just for myself. Surprisingly for me, the message resonated with a lot of people, and they loved it. I realized that I had to turn the brand into a Latina empowerment brand. It made me really happy, and it kind of created this joy that I was finally doing what I was meant to be doing.”
Many celebrities are behind this campaign. How do you feel that they will be wearing the t-shirt you designed?
“Oh my gosh, it is so surreal. I can't even put it into words how grateful I feel. And so, so grateful to Meena for giving us an opportunity and sharing her platform with us. I'm so excited to see the impact. I feel like I've been trying to push out this message and then so many people also push out that message. I hope that many people feel that we're powerful as Latina women.”
Is there any celebrity you’re a big fan of?
“I'm really excited to see America Ferrera and Diane Guerrero...Cristela Alonzo, who’s one of my role models. I actually just met her this last weekend. I'm so excited for everybody.”
Although you’ve designed a simple t-shirt, it carries a powerful message. What does that mean to you?
“When I put it on, I feel identified, [it’s] something I didn't have my whole life. When I was younger, it wasn't something that I was proud of because I would get bullied. People would be like, ‘Oh, you're dumb. You don't belong here.’ But you can take ownership of that and be like, ‘I am powerful, and I'm strong, and I deserve to be here.’ I think that's the feeling that I am trying to bring together with this shirt. I always have people that are like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the perfect thing to make me feel empowered.'"
How do you want the people to wear your shirts to feel?
“Empowered! I feel like a lot of times we're made to feel like we're less than, and I don't want anyone to ever feel like we don't belong in a room or at a table. We have just as much a right as for anybody to take up a space and to do it proudly and without having to hide who we truly are or hiding our roots.”
All proceeds will be going to the Justice for Migrant Women. Can you explain why you chose this organization?
"We decided to go with them because they are really trying to make an impact for civil rights and migrant women and their families. And that's something that's very special to me and to my family. It's a group of individuals that need the assistance, and it's an honor to be able to do something right.”
Buy your own Latina Power shirt, here.