We had the good fortune of connecting with Elena Soledad and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elena, what’s your definition for success?
Success, to me, is love. My business was rooted with a love for my community and my need to find others like myself and others who share a similar background as my daughter. I don’t have an exact measure of success, but I know what it feels like. I know that every time someone messages me to say that they feel so beautiful and powerful with one of my pieces, or if they just say that they can finally feel seen in jewelry; that is success to me. Representation is success. I am always emotional and honored when I am able to connect with other community members and I feel this sense of family that I have always yearned for. Success is connection. I never thought I would be here. As and Andean Adoptee, I always felt disconnected from my culture and I longed to find others like myself. What Brooklyn Warmi has brought me, is more than anything I ever imagined. To me, success is a feeling; there is no measurement. But what I do know, success is rooted love.
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.
Brooklyn Warmi was intended to create community for those in the Andean diaspora. Growing up in Brooklyn, NY, I wasn’t ever able to find pieces that truly represented me. I like to use the analogy that it was like trying to find a keychain that had everyone else’s name but yours. However, starting Brooklyn Warmi, was not easy. I had been going over ideas since 2011, trying to find a way to start. Being a single mother and needing a 9-5 job to sustain my household, I was not able to truly risk my stable check for entrepreneurship. I tried several times to get myself off the ground but I was burnt out from working 40-60 hours a week plus motherhood and always trying to complete classes so I could get my Bachelors in Counseling (which is still in progress and who knows when I’ll go back, but I plan to!). I am not here to glamorize entrepreneurship, but as the pandemic hit, and I found myself out of work, I was able to use money to buy inventory & machinery! I originally started with T-Shirts but my confidence was so low and I wasn’t sure if this was good idea. Needless to say, my T-Shirts got recognition due a protest I attended in my love for my home country, Peru. This was completely unintentional! I thought I would wear something I made, honoring who I am, and people started asking about me! I told myself that I would wait no longer and finally take the leap! What I want the world to take away from my story, is to take measured risks! Sometimes, every risk isn’t worth it, but when the opportunity presents itself, TAKE IT! Listen to the universe, and when things become aligned, JUST GO FOR IT! In all honesty, I don’t know what truly sets me apart from others. I think we all put our love into our own work and I can see that when I look at other small businesses! I’m excited to expand my brand into beauty and books! One thing at a time though, but I am SO excited!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Some of my favorite spots to bring people, would be Bar None in the City!!! I also have come to love Negril in Brooklyn! But an itinerary? Ok, lets go! First, we would start off with brunch at Sweet Chicks! The chicken & waffles are amazing! Then we’d go to chill out in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens! I’m a softie for sunsets and one of my favorite places to watch the sun set is by the Brooklyn Bridge Park! I’m pretty low key so this is what I find exciting! Then we’d go for drink and dinner at Negril and continue the party into the city at Bar None or do some karaoke in Chinatown!
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?
There are so many people I would love to shout out! First, I want to shout out my daughter Hannah, for there would be no me without you and time would just be still. I would like to shout out Megan Rakos of @LoveSupay for being SO supportive when I initially started Brooklyn Warmi and for this opportunity! I want to thank Connie of @AlegriaPeruanx for truly bringing SO many members of the community together. Thank you to the @PumasCollective for accepting me and the work done for Peru is amazing! I want to shout out @IndigenousPride for the knowledge you posses is like none other, and when I have gotten lost in text, you have been there to guide. I want to shout out my family and chosen family which is consisted of beautiful people who have held me and validated me when I have fallen apart with imposter syndrome time and time again. I want to thank my Mamay in Peru, for allowing me into her world when adoption has kept us apart. Thank you to my community members who have now become friends, for connecting and talking and laughing with me. This is for y’all!