How it all started
Shop La Maestra was founded back in 2016 under the name "Chasing Sunshine," because that's exactly what I was doing at the time. A year before, I left my job as a 3rd and 4th grade reading teacher in Chicago and moved back out west to the land of palm trees and 70's degrees. I fell in love with the California dream when my father was a Marine and we lived on Camp Pendelton. The opportunity presented itself when everything in Chicago made me feel burned out, exhausted and ready for change.
It quickly became clear that change of scenery pulled out the parts of me that needed to be explored. I had left teaching to become a nanny because well....in LA nanny's can make more money than teachers and I wanted a break from the classroom. But it didn't take long for me to realize that I was always going to be an educator at heart. As much fun as it was, I was deeply unfulfilled at work. In an odd shift of events, I found myself feeling "back home" on a solo trip to a school supply store getting some things for my nanny kids. When I walked in to that store, I was in HEAVEN! The activity manuals, the educational games, the BOOKS! I felt like I was finally speaking my native language again.
So I decided to pursue a dream I thought I left back in Chicago. I decided to become a Reading Specialist. I wanted everything and anything that had to do with literacy and books.
That's where the Educated Latina campaign was born. I looked around and realized that I didn't know any Latina's who had pursued their masters, and I was scared to enter this world without a mentor! But then I thought about all the role models I did have and the ways we classify "education." I thought of the women around me who were BRILLIANT, but didn't necessarily have college degrees. At first, I felt alone on this journey, but then I realized the amazing company I was in.
I decided to go around LA interviewing Latina's about their education journey and career. Some women were college educated fashion designers, some were certificated yoga instructors and some were the strongest entrepreneurs I had EVER met using Google and the power of community to harness their craft and run their business. The concept of 'education' changed, but the idea of being a strong, driven, brilliant women remained the same.
I designed shirts with "Educated Latina" emblazoned on the front in old english font, a nod to the graffiti my father used to draw back in the day and the font found on many certificates and diplomas. The font showed the connection between the world of my roots and the world of education, one that is not often laid out and made visible. I took photos of each of these women in the shirt, showing the diversity of representation throughout Latinidad.
Since then, the features have been paused by the mission remains strong. Education, representation, empowerment. Thats what it's always been about!
And yes, I did end up making it back to the classroom after an intense year at the Harvard Ed School where I finally got that Masters in Education. I decided the best place for me was right back where I came from. Back to Chicago, back to CPS and back to the community.
I'm still chasing sunshine over here, and we've even added a couple of friends to the shop team! It's been amazing watching the shop grow and hear how these products speak to so many Latina's across the U.S.
Thanks for visiting our shop and thanks for the support throughout the years! We couldn't be more happy to have you around!
-Sabrina 'La Maestra'