WOW: Jen of Jen Zeano Designs
The word that first comes to mind when describing Jen Zeano is “powerhouse.” We first met a few years ago and a friendship quickly ensued. Her lifestyle brand, Jen Zeano Designs (JZD) is a constant source of inspiration for me and was an obvious pick for our marketplace. For our second Women-Owned Wednesday, I chatted with Jen about all things JZD, her hometown of Brownsville and why sisterhood is so essential.
BC: Tell us a little bit about the vision and idea behind your brand.
JZ: JZD is a Latina empowerment brand and that will continue to be our vision as we grow. We want to be a brand that inspires a sense of home and community for our Latinx gente, offering a wide array of lifestyle products. I started JZD about three years ago. Originally, I was hand-drawing designs on coffee mugs! The trigger to take the next step was the 2016 presidential election. I realized that so many people were searching for representation and community. I designed the Latina Power Tee in response to that and the brand grew from there.
" Being a queer Latina is always at the center of my work."
BC: How does being a queer Latina influence your work?
JZ: Being a queer Latina is always at the center of my work. I never shy away from who I am and it definitely influences my design process. One of my biggest goals in life is to remain authentic and true to who I am no matter what happens—and to always remember where I come from. My wife, Vero, is my biggest supporter and we run JZD together. We don’t shy away from being in a gay marriage. That’s a part of our story and it’s important to us.
BC: Sisterhood is so central to JZD. Why is sisterhood important?
JZ: Community! JZD thrives because I’ve made it a point to make my customers my friends and I won’t be convinced otherwise. In my personal life, I also rely heavily on the support of my Latina girl gang and I’ve always strived to make that sense of sisterhood part of my brand. One of the main reasons why I started JZD is because I want to close the gap in representation for the Latinx community and sisterhood is at the center of that. The Latinx community craves a sense of belonging and offering that makes me incredibly happy.
"The Latinx community craves a sense of belonging and offering that makes me incredibly happy."
BC: How does being based in Brownsville, Texas influence your work?
JZ: Brownsville is amazing. We’re a small border town. I live about 5 minutes from Mexico. It’s just full of culture. 97% of our population is Latino so there’s so much authentic representation. People always *I mean at least 3 times a week* ask me why I won’t move to Austin or a bigger city where I may be exposed to bigger opportunities but my beloved border town is such a huge inspiration for my brand that I just can’t see myself leaving it. Also, I can’t possibly say bye to authentic Mexican food!
BC: Tell us about a time you failed. What did you learn?
JZ: Welp, the truth is I fail all the time! It’s a part of growing a business and I’m okay with that. I’ve learned to hold on to my vision, no matter what, and keep moving forward.
"Don’t stop hustling until you’ve made it."
BC: Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
JZ: I know everyone says this, but seriously, just go for it. I’m a firm believer in creating the perfect moment instead of waiting for it, so create that moment and then don’t stop hustling until you’ve made it.