Today we’d like to introduce you to Micaela Barragan.
Micaela, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My hometown is Escondido, I moved to South San Diego about 7 years ago when I married my wonderful husband Omar. We just had a little girl in April, so we’re over here on cloud 9 right now! Well, it all started in Preschool, just kidding not going that far back. Basically I’ve been a creative nerd my whole life. My family has always been creative. I started making art and items to sell way back in 2009 when things got rocky for everyone, I turned to have an outlet to keep myself busy after I lost my job as most in the design field did that year, I took a hiatus from making things until I could get settled again. In 2014, I frequented local art shows and events in San Diego and met my now friend Joni Nuñez, who at the time totally peer pressured me into doing a piece for an art show she was curating. So, I went for it and had so much fun that I continued creating for multiple art shows and events afterward. It got that creative fire lit again! After experimenting with various mediums and really trying to find my style, my voice in what I was doing. I decided to 1: Turn to my Design experience. My background is in Interior Design, I happen to have a degree in Interior Design and specifically I used to be in Hospitality Interior Design. So, I looked at what could help set me apart and what I already know that I how I could apply to my art and 2: I decided to make greeting cards! I participated in a Valentine’s Day Event in 2016 and I decided to make about 12 cards with some of my artwork mixed in and used my humor to come up with some funny Love themed cards. Well, turned out they were a hit! I almost sold out that day! I also eventually sold them at a few local stores.
The thought behind my greeting cards was to make cards in a contemporary design, but with a Latino reflection to it. I loved seeing other contemporary greeting cards with all these great sayings that spoke to me and I thought, why not make something that reflects a hilarious point of view from my aspect? So, I did it and it seems to have resonated with not only fellow Mexican-Americans but really anyone that gets these and many more Latinos from all backgrounds. Anyone that wants to give someone a hilarious card, anyone who knows that feeling of getting Menudo on a Sunday Morning after an adventure on Saturday Night. It’s not the act of getting it, but the people that you’re with at that moment. They are special. If their mom called them Pinches Locas too. If you know the struggle of wanting all the tamales for yourself, but caring for someone so much that you’d actually share! You know that means you care! The feeling that Pan Dulce brings up, the warmth and sweetness of it and then telling someone that you want them to be your warmth and sweetness, that really seemed to be something that everyone seems to relate to.
I couldn’t have imagined how these cards have become so popular, but at the core of it, they all help express love toward one another and they are memories we all seem to carry and that I think contributes to how many people love them!
I was vending during Chicano Park Day in 2017 and I had so many people come up and just tell me all the stories that the cards created. “My mom loved this one, she laughed so hard!” “I got two kept one for myself it’s on my wall!” “That’s totally me!” So many stories, it was great! These cards ended up bringing back memories that we all shared growing up and it was an amazing reaction to get! I eventually made not only Love cards, but also birthday and Mother’s Day cards and growing!
I also make mugs with a few of the card designs. And now most recently I create and offer home decor items, not only art that I make such as my Puerquito collection, but also art prints on wood panels. Prints and artwork in various frames. Tapping into my Interior Design background I want to offer pieces that are not only obtainable for everyone, but that also has a very distinct, clean contemporary look to them. Something different! It’s a way for me to take our Latino backgrounds and memories and push in new design direction. We can have a different design or a different look, but still, reflect who we are in that design. It’s not a typical traditional design that you would expect, but it is definitely a direction that my customers love! I know who I am and what my roots are, and that helps guide me into the future of what I’m creating now.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not been a straight line for sure! Like anything creative, it’s always a process. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don’t! For instance, from these cards, the most popular card became the Pan Dulce Card. It had a concha heart and everyone loved the illustration. I eventually made a 3D Lapel pin that I sculpted, hand painted and resin coat and it continues to be a popular design that everyone loved! I ended up experimenting with a variety of designs for the little concha! I am constantly inspired by my family and friends and my sweet husband that puts up with my creative mess at home! Thank you to all the customers that have seriously supported me throughout this process and continue to push me! I appreciate every purchase and every story I hear! Doing this art brings me into contact with alot of amazing artists and vendors and other amazing women! I love it! Chingonas supporting Chingonas I always say! You never know what can happen if you push that friend to do something or cheer someone on, support each other, seriously! Do it! Start making things, participate in art shows, just get going basically!
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Azul Oscuro Design story. Tell us more about the business.
I’m known for my greeting cards and contemporary art work with a Latino reflection. Customers can recognize them right away now, which is amazing! I love gold accents and lots of glitters when I can add it! I’m known for providing artwork and items that make great gifts for friends and family in the Latino community. I can say now that I provide these items for Latinos that hit home so hard that it makes them extremely happy and excited to not only that they found something like this and can purchase these things, but to give them away and see the reaction they create! That’s the thing I’m most proud of. Sometimes, customers who bought cards end up keeping them for themselves! So, if you end up getting one, you’re even luckier! Not only the designs of the cards and artwork but also the content is definitely unique. If you know me you know that I’m a totally a happy fun person and I’d like to think that comes off in the things I do. The sayings are not typical, yet they are familiar to a lot! And I think they are unapologetically Latino. Some people don’t get it and that’s ok, let me explain what a Sunday Menudo kind of Love is! Let me tell you why everyone loses their minds over sharing tamales. If you don’t know, then man you need some of this kind of love! You need to taste a tamale and know what goes into making it and then to get some! Wow, that’s love right there, find it!
What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
Honestly, I think insecurity is the biggest downfall. There are just too many leaders that are insecure in mentoring or helping another person or woman because they might take my position, or they might be better than me or all these doubts and what ifs. If we got rid of that right there we could all make each other so much greater. What if they did become greater? You helped make that woman, that person great. You helped them along the way. It takes nothing away from you. Answer those questions, refer someone, help someone out if they need it. That right there is the good karma we should all strive for! It will all come back to you. If we don’t help each other out, no one else will!
- Greeting Cards are $6 Each
- Mugs are $15
- Concha Pins are $20
- Art prints and decor items can vary between $15-$30
- Original Artwork can vary between $40-$150
- Stickers are $3-$5
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/azuloscurodesign/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Azul-Oscuro-Design-by-Micaela-Barragan-2236725753034550/
Azul Oscuro Design