We had the good fortune of connecting with April Rodriguez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi April, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Starting my own business was a scary concept, but was ultimately a path that was undeniable for me. I’ve tried for years to find a traditional job that felt right and made me happy at the same time, but none fit the bill. Before I decided to start my own business. I was Substitute Teaching while working on my art on the side. In February of 2018, the universe intervened and I had medical issues that prevented me from being able to get out of bed. I used this time to get serious about my business and to bet on myself. I was definitely scared and unsure if I would be successful but I also knew that I had to at least try and believe in myself. I was also fortunate enough to have friends who had been through the journey of starting their own business and offered me lots of advice and resources on how to be successful in my ventures.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets me apart from other artists is my diversity of artistic mediums. I’ve always had a hard time staying in one place. As a kid my grandpa would never let me sit with him because I couldn’t sit still. I was his wiggle worm. I was born to a single teen mom. It took awhile for my mom to find financial stability, understandably so we moved around a lot growing up. I’ve never really stood in one place for very long. I believe that all of this attributes to my need to try new things or to put myself in unfamiliar situations. There’s just something about my personality that craves that change now. I believe that it shows greatly in my creativity. I can’t stay in one medium too long without feeling bored or temporarily losing my passion for it, but I think it really helps me to stand out from others. I LOVE trying new things. The hardest part of getting to where I am professionally has been stepping out of my own way. I doubt myself often, which leads to procrastination or not putting myself out there enough. I would say that this has been my biggest challenge, self doubt. It wasn’t easy to overcome this challenge and honestly it wasn’t until I was in my mid 30s that I realized the importance of surrounding yourself with supportive friends and partners. I was always trying to help others out and oftentimes sacrificed my own needs to do this. I didn’t realize the impact it was having on me. Once I began surrounding myself with people who had healthy mindsets, my life and business changed significantly. I doubted myself less and had an easier time putting myself out there for others to see. As my business and brand develop I try to incorporate all the parts of myself into it. I try to incorporate all the things I’m passionate about including, good mental health, creativity and also sustainability. My brand will always grow and evolve with me and my ever changing interests.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Day 1: We would head over to my favorite museum TheNorton Simon Museum in Pasadena. I love the collection at The Norton Simon. I love that it has a lot of classics, but it’s also smaller than more well known museums like LACMA. I also love to go through and look at all the ancient art collections they have downstairs. It’s so interesting to see how art has evolved over the years. After a long day of walking around the museum I would take them to Clearman’s Galley in San Gabriel. I used to go with my family as a kid when it was in its original building and still enjoy it today, not only for the nostalgia but for the delicious food. Day 2: On the second day I would take them to my favorite local area, Historic Uptown Whittier. We would start the day with brunch at Auntie’s Cafe. It has a beautiful patio area and such a whimsical aesthetic. It would put us in the perfect mood to start the day. We can spend the rest of the day walking around Uptown Whittier looking at all the shops including Lovell’s Records, Uptown 2000 and Melrose Vintage, just to name a few. Then we would end the day watching a movie at Whittier Village Cinema. Their theatre front is so cute and transports you to another decade. Day 3: On the 3rd day I would take them to Huntington Library in Pasadena. It has some of the most beautiful gardens to walk through and explore. You can literally spend the whole day whether it be walking around or sitting in a quiet grassy spot enjoying the environment. There are just so many gardens to explore as well as the museums they have. My favorite part of The Huntington Library is the Miniature Bonsai Garden. I absolutely love looking at these miniature giants. They’re so cute and so aesthetically pleasing. I also really love the Japanese Garden. It makes me feel like I’m in a different world. After a long day of walking we would go to Petrillo’s in San Gabriel and share one of the most delicious pizzas in the area. Day 4: On day 4 I would take them to Frank & Son’s Collectible Show in Rowland Heights. It’s like going to a miniature version of Comic Con. There are so many cool booths and collectibles to look through and before the pandemic there are a few food vendors there selling delicious greasy food, reminiscent of the bacon wrapped hot dogs that are sold outside of La’s Comic Con. Day 5: On Day 5 I would take them to The LA Zoo. Since I was a kid I’ve always loved walking around the zoo and marveling at all of the amazing and beautiful animals there. I love sitting and watching how incredibly similar their behaviors are to our own. Afterwards we would stop off at East Side Deli in La and grab some sandwiches. Day 6: We would start the day riding bikes along Venice Beach and look around at all the shops. We could spend some time relaxing on the beach before spending our evening playing games and going on the rides at Santa Monica Pier. We could stuff ourselves with all the delicious carnival themed foods there. Day 7: On the last day we’d take it easy. We would grab some Thai food from The Greenleaf Thai Cuisine and have a picnic at my favorite local park, Penn Park. This park is beautiful with its beautiful waterfall and quiet little spots to sit in. It would be the perfect way to end the visit. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I wouldn’t be where I am today in my business if it wasn’t for the support and encouragement of a lot of people but there are two in particular that have done a lot in the way of emotional and mental support. The first is my boyfriend Anthony Tamayo. He encouraged me to take the initial step into creating my small business and has held my hand the entire time. He has been my rock and helps me to see past the fog every time I want to give up. He also acts as my creative sound board. He lets me bounce my creative ideas on him and gives me honest feedback on what he thinks works and doesn’t work. The second person I’d like to shout out today is my business gal pal Ana Karen from @anakarenlovespaper . We both started up our small businesses around the same time. We’ve collaborated on several projects and events and hopefully many more, especially once the pandemic fades away. She is a wonderful example of working hard towards your dreams and she inspires me everyday. She encourages me to strive for more and to push myself into situations that may seem scary but are necessary for growth. Whether she knows or not, she’s had the most wonderful influence on my business.
Photo by April Rodriguez (myself)