We had the good fortune of connecting with Jane Fernando and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jane, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I had always been interested in starting my own business – in having something that was all mine. It was always important for me to be as authentic as possible and for this business to reflect what I valued in my personal life. For years, I teetered between several ideas for what I wanted my business to be about. I went through several exercises to determine what products I wanted to sell, what my unique proposition would be and most importantly, which of my values I wanted to tie into the business. A few months ago, I puzzled together something I felt proud and confident to put my name behind. However, it was timing that made me commit to following this dream. I was in a place in my career where I felt stuck. I wasn’t where I wanted to be and I wasn’t positioned to take myself where I wanted to go. Just a year ago, I was let go from a job I hated and recently accepted a short-term position with no promise of growth. I was done feeling undervalued. I was tired of leaving the fate of my career in the hands of someone else. It wasn’t until I had all this free time (due to the pandemic) that I really began to evaluate the next move in my career. I couldn’t face the fact that in just two years I would need to dive back into the job market to find my next career opportunity. It made me sick to my stomach, so I began to revisit old journals of ideas I had. I added new notes to that, refined my business idea, researched the required licenses, located suppliers, built my website, put all my affairs in order to finally get started. And with all that, I launched late August of 2020 and am working my hardest to keep this dream alive.
What should our readers know about your business?
Before I committed to starting my business, I knew that to stand out from a sea of online retailers, I had to provide something unique. I also wanted to incorporate my personal values and beliefs. I wanted to have a business with a purpose. I had always loved fashion and beauty. I was often drawn to retro fashion, especially when it made a statement or was overtly chic or extravagant. I find retro fashion to be inspiring, timeless and beautiful. On a separate note, I became passionate about politics as I became older. I saw the need for representation and the need for minorities to create their own lanes. I saw the resistance to equal pay for women and the lack of diversity in companies big and small. And more pressing is the issue of climate change wherein “fast fashion” has negatively contributed to growing environmental concerns. The cliche, be the change, became more real than ever. The culmination of these passions influenced what my business is about. Stupid Kitsch combines timeless fashion (that manages to stand out) with activism. Each product I carry makes a statement (either visually or literally via printed message) and each brand ascribes to one or more attribute that is important to me: women owned, minority owned, lgbtq+ owned, handmade or eco-friendly. It’s part of my mission to support local artisans and to carry products that you normally wouldn’t find at your local mall in one convenient place. In our technologically advanced era, it has become easier to connect with brands that fit my ethos. Undoubtedly, if I started a few years ago, it would definitely have been more challenging. I struggled with understanding the paperwork requirements needed to start a business. I couldn’t afford professional advice and had to do a lot of research myself. Luckily, I had friends who recently started their own businesses who gave me plenty of useful advice. The thing I’ve learned throughout this journey is that there can be a wealth of resources within your circle; you just need the courage to ask for help and advice.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m not big on sightseeing, but I am huge on eating! There are a few amazing local spots that I love, including Cafe 86 (a filipino owned cafe), Borreguitas (a vegetarian/vegan Mexican food restaurant) and Makomae (a small Japanese restaurant with a mean $13 sushi/sashimi combo). I would take them to the Pomona Art Walk in my hometown. It’s a vibrant night when our community comes together for live music, art and local vendors. I would also take them to Cafe con Libros, a non-profit bookstore and community library in heart of Downtown Pomona. As a California native, I love that fact that we have the best of all worlds – city, beach, mountains. I would definitely do a day in Hollywood or Downtown LA, the beach and Big Bear Lake.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ve been fortunate to have had an amazing support system throughout most of my adult life. The ones that I’ve learned the most from were the women that I’ve known, mostly through my career. Each one has taught me important lessons on how to be confident, how to stand my ground, how to negotiate and how to walk away. These women include Debbie, Grace, Yu-Ting, Valerie, Bobbi, Jacky, Karen, Lupe, Dione, Laura, Sonia, Natali, Patricia, Corinne, Zoe and Maria (to name a few). Without these women, I would not have had the courage or the skills to start my business. My family members have given me unlimited support and love including Brian, Mom, Dad, Imee, Eliza, Michelle, my in-laws Ruben and Dolly, and my two sons, Xavier and Apollo. And special mention to Alex for saying no and telling me to start my OWN business and to Robbie for helping me with my first photo shoot. I am filled with gratitude each day for the wealth of friendship, mentorship and support these people (and many more who I may have failed to mention) have given me and the impact they have made in my life.