This week’s Latina Spotlight is on Erika Batista, fashion blogger and owner of Lola Blue, the Closet. Erika has transformed her fashion obsession into a successful online jewelry boutique and popular fashion blog. A dedicated mother and wife, Erika is determined to walk her own path–in fabulous high heels–setting an example for her family, her colleagues and other Latina professionals. So join us us as we learn more about Erika, her closet and the successful life and business she’s built via sheer drive and determination.
Provide us with a brief bio regarding your culture/heritage, upbringing and education.
If there is one thing I am extremely proud of it is my heritage. I was born in Miami, Florida and raised in Guayaquil, Ecuador. My childhood was everything a childhood should be: innocence, happiness and lots and lots of love. Though I was raised by a single mother I had everything I ever wanted. We lived at my grandma’s house and my fondest memories were always of family Sundays. Just thinking about it makes my heart flutter.
We moved to NJ when I was around 10 years old. It was very difficult. I didn’t speak any English and we moved in with an aunt and cousins that I had never met. I missed my family back in Ecuador terribly. I admire my mother for taking that leap of fate–she’s always been such a strong woman. Looking back, I don’t know how she made it throughout all these years with a little girl in a foreign country. But if it hadn’t been for that fateful May in 1993, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
After I graduated high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. When I was 17 years old, I just wanted to reward my mother for all her efforts with me by going to college. She had worked so hard all her life, it was the least I could do. So I enrolled in Berkeley College and graduated with a degree in Marketing and Advertising. It was a great experience and I am happy I did it, but I always knew it wasn’t my passion. I’ve always loved fashion and looking back I think I was still a little insecure back then–with my style and my body. It wasn’t until I was about 25 years old that I became very confident with myself and knew 110% that this [fashion] is what I wanted to do. I love fashion and I was ready to live it.
You started your own small business, Lola Blue, the Closet. Tell us a bit about Lola Blue and how it came about.
Lola Blue, has been a dream of mine for quite some time. I always loved to dress up and play around with accessories. So for me it wasn’t a question of what kind of business I wanted to launch, it was more of was I ready right now? I used the expression, “my stars are aligning beautifully” often when I started the store. It was happening for me and I couldn’t be more ecstatic.
I started blogging in November 2011, while on my maternity leave. I was always being asked about where I bought my clothes and people seem to like what I wore. So I launched Lola Blue, the closet, a blog for the modern woman who still wanted to be her fabulous self, while being a mother, a wife, a working woman.
As life would have it, I was due back at work in January 2012. I worked at this company, in the Accounting Department, for 6 years and they were kind enough to accept my request to come back part-time, this time as Project Coordinator. I was ecstatic. It was like having the best of both worlds–I could still dress up every day and have my own independent time, as well as have so much time with my baby. By spring I’d started researching how to open up my business. I was told my job was closing down after September 2012. If there was a sign that all my hard work had paid off that was it for me. I felt so calm with the news, almost happy. This was the perfect opportunity for me to do what I’ve always wanted to do. So after a ton of research and the stars aligning for me in the most perfect way, Lola Blue, the closet, an online jewelry boutique, was launched on November 12, 2012.
What inspired you to start Lola Blue, the Closet? Where did the name come from?
My love for fashion was definitely the key to launching my business. My fashion blog was initially intended to be a stepping stone into a future business for me. I loved playing around with accessories and what better “job” to have then one that you truly love? My pieces are chic, elegant, fabulous yet affordable!
Lola is my dog, she was my life before my son was born. And Blue? Well when I was jotting down names and words I liked Blue just truly came to me one day and it was perfect; Lola Blue, it just fit together. The other half, the closet, well because it’s about my closet! And I wanted to keep my “brand” uniform, so the Etsy shop, my blog and jewelry boutique are all Lola Blue.
Right now Lola Blue features beautiful accessories. Do you anticipate adding clothing to your Lola Blue “closet”?
Of course! That’s my long-term goal. I don’t want to rush it, though. Just like my jewelry boutique, I want to do it at the right time for me. Right now I juggle being a mom to an energetic toddler, being a wife, taking care of my home, blogging, owning my business and I still work part time! So the clothing will be a “one day” goal–for now.
What is the biggest fashion risk you’ve ever taken? What is the biggest business risk you’ve ever taken?
Oh Gosh! I think wearing my mom’s high heel moccasins to school was one of my biggest fashion risks! They didn’t even fit me well! But all in the name of fashion, haha! I love that memory. I was in 8th grade then, and I probably looked like a crazy!
My biggest business risk has got to be launching my store in the middle of my chaotic life. I didn’t know if I would have a job yet I decided to invest my money and time and just do it. I didn’t know how much of my time it would consume, but I just did it. That in itself for me was a risk. I was nervous, I was excited, I didn’t know which way it was going to go! I just knew I was ready; it was now or never, no matter what the outcome was. And I must say it was the best decision I ever made. I’ve never been in a better place in my life, personally and professionally. But I would never be able to do it without the love and support of my husband and my mother. They have been key contributors to my confidence and success during this journey.
How has being Latina contributed to your style and success?
Being Latina is my pride. Our spark is like no other! I love to show my Latina heritage in my styles. A red lip is muy caliente! I am not a super curvy woman but I like to accentuate what I like to think as my best asset, my legs! I also like to wear anything that will make my waist smaller and create more curves.
What are your top three cardinal fashion rules? What are your top three cardinal rules for success?
My top 3 fashion rules are: 1) Heels, heels, heels! Wear them as if they don’t hurt! I always walk with more confidence and my Latina strut when I am wearing heels; they always make me feel über sexy! 2) Always have a LBD (little black dress) in your closet. Make sure it fits your body like a glove. You can wear it over and over by simply accessorizing! 3) Break the rules! Wear what you like best and always be you! Sure trends are fun but make them YOU!
My top 3 rules for success: 1) Follow your heart! That has never been truer for me than during this past year. 2) No one–and I repeat, no one–is going to make your dream happen but you! There is no other person that wants this dream as bad as you do! If it’s your lifelong dream don’t think it twice about making it happen! Take that step and with a lot of hard work and sleepless nights, it will happen! 3) Be positive. Don’t let one downfall determine your life. Remember to surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher and share the same goals in life that you do!
In your expert fashionista opinion, what accessory or item of clothing should every busy woman have in her closet in 2013?
Two things: A fabulous statement necklace and bracelets, bracelets, bracelets! Arm candy is everything! It is fun and fabulous. You can dress up a white t-shirt and jeans by adding some fab jewels from Lola Blue, the closet to your outfit! Even a simple black dress can become a wow factor with a chunky statement necklace. Slick you hair back and add an exquisite pair of teardrop earrings and you will be the talk of the night!
You’re a fashion blogger, a business owner, a mother and a wife. How do you achieve personal and professional balance in your life?
I am still trying to figure that out! Right now I am taking it day-by-day. I try to get some work done during the morning when my son is napping and at night after my husband comes home from work. My family always comes first, so on the weekends there is no intense work. I’ll take pictures and post photos on my Instagram (@lolabluethecloset) or Facebook page, and on Sunday nights I may read a couple of emails, but I make it a point to enjoy our family time. It was very difficult for me at first; I wanted to do it all at once, so now I am working on my time management. I am still working on that balance, I think with so many ideas, dreams and goals I have for my boutique and blog, there won’t be a “perfect” balance for me other than just keeping focused and enjoying my time with my family as much as I can.
What can we look forward to from Lola Blue, the Closet in 2013?
Get ready to see a ton of fabulous pieces. Spring and summer are my favorite seasons–the colors are to die for. I’ve already unveiled some pieces The 2013 Collection earlier this month! This is just a little peak into what’s to come. I plan on bringing my jewelry to events and maybe a couple of jewelry trunk shows this year. This year is all about success and happiness for Lola Blue.
As far as my fashion blog, I hope to accomplish many of my goals this year. I would love to do some styling for events in NYC. Last year I attended a few fashion events, so I’m hoping to do a lot more of that in 2013! I would also love to be featured on more fashion websites like I was in 2012; I was featured in Lucky Magazine as a contributor and also featured on The Fashion Bomb. I plan on attending more events and getting the Lola Blue brand out there!
What is your advice to aspiring and established Latina professionals?
Honestly, the best advice I can give to anyone is follow your instincts and don’t give up until you achieve your happiness, whatever that may be to you. Whether you are 18, 25, 35 or 50, only you hold the key to your happiness; no one will make this happen but YOU. It can be very difficult and scary to make the big first move, but if you are passionate and want it with all your heart, you will make it happen.
There’s this quote I found that has always stayed with me: “She believed she could, so she did!” It speaks to me on so many levels. I believe that you can achieve anything you set your mind to – you just have to fight off your fears. I didn’t want to live my life with a “what if” hanging over me so I made this happen for myself. I am still taking baby steps, but I’ve built my own path.
Erika would love to connect with you. If you want to know more about Erika take a look at some her social links and some places I’ve been featured on.
Jewelry Boutique: www.lolabluethecloset.com
*The Fashion Bomb “Bombshell of the Day”:
*Lucky Magazine Contributor: