THE BONAFIDE BADASS.
In three years, about the amount of time it takes most of us to unsubscribe from email lists, Ilse Valfré went from being a kindergarten teacher to CEO of a million dollar indie lifestyle brand.
And her email subscription list is huge. With close to 700k followers on Instagram, the entrepreneur has a handle on her handle. Part indie, part pop, the Mexican-born artist understands the wild-at-heart millennial mind. Valfré’s mission is to bring her art to life by creating unique products that are a direct reflection of the psychedelic world that she has created. (Shoutout to her "grow a pair" denim jacket.) Her work explores the poignant tension between vulnerability and confidence as she transports her audience into the hearts and minds of the characters that she creates.
More from the badass business owner below.
Where do your drive and passion come from?
From my inner need to create stuff. It’s therapy for me.
When you were young, were there successful Latina businesswomen whom you admired?
My aunty Wanda Amieiro is a fashion designer from Mexico City. Seeing how she built her brand was a big inspiration for me, and it has always fascinated me how she was able to balance her family life and her career, and still look flawless.
Do you feel ever feel extra pressure as a Latina business woman?
To be honest, I really don’t. I love what I do and I just take one day at a time and try to have fun during the process.
When you run into a career obstacle, what drives you forward?
My family, especially my partner who happens to be my husband. His ability to problem solve is incredible and he still manages to remain relaxed.
What are your biggest fears about running a business?
Like I said, I am taking this amazing journey one day at a time. But like anybody, I do have a fear of letting our employees down (who have become like family) if we make a wrong business decision.
You quit your job to focus on your artwork and building your brand full time. How did you know it was the "right" time?
When I realized I wasn’t getting any younger and that to build a business takes time and effort. So I literally woke up one morning, called my boss and quit. That same day I started blogging and educating myself on how to start a business from home. This was back in 2009.
What's something you'd like people to know about your job that they probably don’t?
That Bruno (my black character) is based off my real life cat that was rescued from the streets of Tijuana.
What about your career makes you feel the most complete?
I think I get the most excited when I see people connecting and interacting with the art. It never gets old for me to see people getting my work tattooed on them, or seeing how creative people get when they dress up like my characters.
At what point in your career did you find the confidence to really take charge and become the woman you are today?
My personal life is really connected to my career. When I became a mom at 25, I gained a lot more confidence and a much clearer vision of how I wanted life to be. Becoming a mom has definitely helped me focus in on what's important and has ultimately given me a lot more motivation to make Valfré a success.
What's the best advice you've ever been given? Or your favorite piece of #realtalk?
We live in a society that constantly tells us that we're not good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. Something I always try to remember is that “the key to happiness is gratitude”. This means that no matter what, you always have to try and see the bright side and be thankful for who you are and what you have.
What song do you sing in the shower when you’ve had a bad day?
When my calendar hits December, my brain instantly shifts into Mariah Carey mode. During these days you'll definitely hear me singing “all I want for Christmas” on repeat. hahah
How many pins is too many pins on a jacket?
There is no such things as too many.
Photo Credit: @davisfactor