We had the good fortune of connecting with Anamaria Davila and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anamaria, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
There is little to no Latinx representation in the Gift Industry. There are almost no POC making decisions when it comes to what items will be hitting the shelves at your favorite store next season. While companies are getting push back for lack of representation, the people actually purchasing these products are still White. So when you go to a store all you see for “Latinx Representation” are tacos, piñatas & guacamole; that’s because it’s assumed all Latinx people are Mexican. And Cinco de Mayo is around the corner. There’s no thought process behind, wait, these items are native to Mexico, but what would represent someone from Colombia? El Salvador? Chile? Panama? Dominican Republic? I have been selling at tradeshows in the Gift Industry for over 12 years. I have worked with a total of 6 buyers [buying for U.S. stores/gift shops you and I both shop at] in those 12 years that were POC; six. From those 6, only 1 was Latina.
What should our readers know about your business?
I originally created MISfitted as an outlet when my Mom passed away 11 years ago. But today, MISfitted is a Latinx Brand that’s all about Spanglish Stationery & Inclusive Gifts for the Latinx Community and anyone that identifies with it. I re-opened MISfitted as a Latinx brand after spending so many years in the Gift Industry and not see enough of myself being represented in the products being sold. I am creating Stationery & Gift products that I could relate to because I have a lifelong love of writing letters and using notebooks for work, school + journaling. I want to create products that empower & inspire Latinx people by using words & phrases they, like me, grew up hearing.
What I was not prepared for was the massive amount pushback & resistance for using the term “Latinx”. Even the word “Latine” that is used interchangeably to sound better became an issue. Then the push back of “Spanglish” not being an actual language and a disgrace to “Spanish” language.
I had to really take some time to dig deep and remind myself WHY I am doing this. It’s because not everyone was lucky enough like I was to have a grandma to teach them Spanish. Many of my friends’ parents worked 2,3,4 jobs growing up and didn’t have time to sit and teach their kids how to read and write in Spanish but that doesn’t make them less Latinx. My own parents didn’t have the time. Case and point, my younger siblings aren’t fluent in Spanish because our grandma got Alzheimer’s and could no longer teach them like she did with me. So if we have to use Spanglish to connect with our Cultura, that’s how we adapt. I have products that are in Spanish and Spanglish for both types of customers.
When it comes to creating a space for inclusivity in the Latinx Community, I designed products for El/He/Him pronouns, Ella/She/Her pronouns too and it didn’t matter, because my branding contained the word “Latinx”. I learned that those people that pushed back were just not my target audience, and kept it moving. MISfitted is a space that is very much about inclusivity, whatever your pronoun. “Where you don’t have to fit in” is our motto so if you don’t align with our motto or beliefs, there’s plenty of other Latina/o businesses that you can support.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d start with an early morning hike at Griffith Park, the views out to the ocean + Palos Verdes is the perfect picture of L.A., then head down to Hermosa Beach for breakfast at Scotty’s. It’s our family breakfast spot & the outdoor patio with view of the beach and their homemade muffins are what make me think of home. Growing up with a teacher for a Mom I really enjoy learning centers; 2 museums I would totally add to the weekender are the California Science Center & the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. I love watching kids light up while they touch and play to learn because you don’t even realize you’re doing the same.
A trip to L.A. wouldn’t be complete without a trip to downtown. The library is one of my favorite places in Downtown Los Angeles, not only because I went to school there (DBMHS) but also because the architecture is beautiful & the work that was put into restoring it after the fire was pretty extensive. There’s also lots of free events for the community so you never know what event you’ll find. Next for snacks would be a trip to Olvera Street. I interned at the Mexican Cultural Institute so supporting the park & their vendors is very important for me. The collection of fruit snacks, tacos, taquitos and fresh juices is overwhelming but much needed. Plus the beautiful dances put on by the performers are always breath taking. The art gallery at the Mexican Cultural Institute also tends to have amazing art installations/exhibits. A tour of the Avila house is always a must. Then a quick walk up to Philippe’s for a French dipped sub & potato salad. Depending on the day of the week, the DTLA Artwalk is a fun way to find new and upcoming artists, musicians and exciting art installations.
One of my favorite past times while working full time & going to school full time was escaping in El Segundo to watch the planes take off. My aunt lived there for a bit and it’s how I found this spot near LAX to watch the planes come and go. Even after she moved I still came to sit on the bench and think about everything and nothing.
To end our weekend, I’d pack a blanket and head to my most favorite place in all of L.A,, the beach and watch the Sunset. There’s nothing in the world like watching the set over the ocean to remind you of just how big our world is. But there’s only 1 view in the entire world that includes the mountains that corral all of Los Angeles in the background and that’s my home.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My Mom. She passed away 11 years ago, but in the short time she was here; she made it a point to push me to break the mold when it came my Latinidad. She never talked to me about growing up to become a housewife or Mom, learning the family recipes, etc. She always pushed me to write my own story. Go become a doctor, a lawyer, speech pathologist. She pushed and pushed to find schools that would help me where she couldn’t. In 6th grade, she plucked me out of elementary and she enrolled me in a school about 1 & a half hours away from home. I would get on the school bus at 5:55a and get home around 5:30p. For high school, she found an Academy for Business Leadership and that’s where I fell in love with Business. I didn’t realize it then but growing up but as a 1st generation daughter it was not a normal upbringing for an Immigrant parent to do that. I still struggled being the oldest to be the first to apply for college, move out into my own apartment, but everything I did, good or not so good, she celebrated. Now in my business when something goes a miss, I take that same energy as a lesson learned and keep it moving.
Additionally, my Partner also gets a note to the success of where my business is heading today. He always told me how much he loved the name MISfitted and that I should bring the concept of Inclusivity and welcoming people as they are back. We work in the same industry and part of our past time would be looking at products and seeing how I would change it for the Latinx community. Eventually I took his subtle nudges seriously and started with my sticker designs and as they say, the rest is HERstory.