We had the good fortune of connecting with Reyna Villa and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Reyna, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I opened up my online stationery shop last year, and sometimes people ask me things along the lines of “Wow! That’s so brave of you to start your own business! How did you decide to take the risk?” Having never really considered it, I always gave generic answers such as “it just felt like the right time.”
But once I sat down and really thought about it, none of it felt like a risk to me at all! Most career moves and life-changes I made were always thought-out, calculated, and sometimes even involved pro-con lists or spreadsheets. I would have never started a business if I didn’t have the confidence and detailed evidence that it would succeed (or at least not be a total loss). The path to opening my online shop was very slow and steady, but it began long before I decided to start my own business.
In my free time outside my 9-5 job I was selling Quinceañera invitations as a side-hustle, listening to founder-focused business podcasts and audiobooks, attending networking events with other like-minded individuals, and basically doing everything to took to start a business without having started a business. That is, until the pandemic hit, I lost my employment, and had no choice but to take the (small, calculated, spreadsheeted) leap into doing it all on my own.
I know people love to hear stories about founders who gave it all up for their new venture, but I’m here to say it doesn’t have to be that way. Take your time. Learn everything you can, and then make it happen.
What should our readers know about your business?
I run an East Los Angeles based online stationery and gift shop called Quiero Prints that celebrates the shared experiences of the latinx community. Our professionally designed and curated products include greeting cards, notepads, planners, stickers, and even some jewelry and apparel.
One thing I initially struggled with was the fact that a lot of small businesses with similar products pop up last year. But the more I thought about it, I also realized I had a lot of advantages. On the creative end, I’d already been working as a graphic designer with a lot of print and product experience for the past decade. Having already created art for party goods, school supplies, and textile prints, designing my own stickers and notepads felt like a walk in the park! And even on the business side, those previous design jobs I had required constant communication with outside manufacturers about the quality and details of their products, which I do on a regular basis for my shop today. Even when it came down to marketing — you guessed it — I already had hours upon hours of experience in it because of my career and took that into creating Quiero Prints.
Combining all that experience together with my sense of humor and life as a daughter of Mexican immigrants is the perfect recipe for cooking up the shop I have today. Although I focus on designing gifts that are of good quality and are thoughtfully designed, at the end of the day I want to bring a smile to someone’s face. There’s no feeling like the one I get when I get a message from a customer saying that they love that my “Hay Comida En La Casa” bag reminds them of their mom, or that my Spanglish “No Seas Boba” straw made them laugh, thinking of all the times their dad told them that. I’ve always felt that if I’m not making my customer smile, I haven’t done my job.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We’d probably do a day trip to the beach, Get drinks downtown, and late night tacos at any of the amazing trucks or food stands in East LA.
If a group of us are getting together for the first time in a while (usually around the holidays, when friends are visiting their families), we always make it a point to get Korean BBQ together — so many good places to choose from in K-town or anywhere in the SGV! Or dim sum in Monterey Park if they aren’t available for dinner.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Truly the reason I am where I am is my familia. Not only are they the inspiration behind a lot of my products and designs, but they’ve been a wonderful support system throughout the process.
Reyna Villa Crystal Bahena