Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Ledesma.
Hi Stephanie, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
To touch a little bit on my background, I was born into the commercial world. Basically, I didn’t choose this life, it chose me, and I absolutely love it that way. Some of my earliest memories are on the road between states with my siblings, my parents, and a caravan of employees who turned into family. EL AZTECA IMPORTS was my parents’ commercial business. We sold leather goods as well as Mexican hand-crafted toys, pottery and accessories among many more things. We transported everything from Mexico to each state in a 1970 Chevy 30 ft long box truck. We set up extra-large booths at state fairs and carnival events.
Every year we drove from our home in San Diego to Illinois, to New York, to Massachusetts, to Indiana & back home. Some years we worked in cities like Miami, Denver, and Phoenix, to name a few. The route changed over the years, and so did the business. Eventually, we traveled less, and my parents shifted from selling goods to selling foods. Fast forward to today, my parents run individual food businesses, and now my siblings and I have grown up and chosen our own paths.
Our individual paths led us to explore options, work regular 9-5 jobs, and eventually brought us back into the world of entrepreneurship. My sister, the oldest, runs her own food enterprise. My brother, the second oldest, owns a towing company and is venturing into the food industry. Then there’s me, the youngest, running Stefawniee’s Closet. A women’s boutique with an online presence and two physical locations, three if you count pop-ups.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
An entrepreneur life is a life full of trial and error. It is hard to imagine that it has been a smooth road for any business owner. Personally, I have started and ended more than a few business ventures myself before I could get to where I am today. It is my genuine passion to be pursuing this dream, running an online boutique at the height of social media branding and content creation. As perfectly fit as this job is for me, it comes with struggles, just like any other.
The business owner life provides a lot of freedom and many privileges, but it also requires an insane amount of work, self-discipline, and self-motivation. There is no boss to keep you in line, and if you don’t keep yourself in line your business suffers. This is probably one of the hardest parts of the job for me. Some days I can work up my motivation so high while other days I can barely find it in me and might even start to doubt my entire business plan. Nonetheless, giving up is never an option for me.
What usually helps me get back on track is a new collection or a store makeover because that means I get to creatively direct and capture new content for Stefawniee’s Closet social media. I’m very lucky to have grown up in a fast-paced family business because it taught me a lot at a very young age. For example, businesses are not one straight line, and it is ok to pivot if and when it is a productive move. I consider launching a new collection with a new campaign a form of pivoting. I wasn’t born into money, but I am rich in experiences. These experiences proactively helped me develop entrepreneurial skills which I apply to my work today. During the long work days at the fairs, I was hanging out at the petting zoos, eating all the fair food you can imagine, and bartering goods from our parents’ business in exchange for carnival ride credits. I think I can loosely compare the latter with collaborations present-day.
Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
As mentioned before, I went through various business concepts before landing on a boutique. The last business before this one was a short-lived one. At the very beginning of the COVID pandemic, I was pregnant with my son, and I decided to sew a handmade face mask and post it on Instagram. This led to interested buyers which led to a full-blown business. I eventually sent masks to Instagram influencers like @stxef, and my business blew up. To keep this short, business grew faster than I could manage, let alone sew, then ended abruptly. A learning experience indeed. Months passed, and my son, Emiliano, was born. I decided to pivot & relaunch under the same name with a new business concept.
On June 4th, 2021, when he was 10 months old, Stefawniee’s Closet the boutique was born. From that moment to this moment, I have worked as hard as possible to keep this business flourishing. I am extremely proud of how far it has come in 14 months. It began as only an online store. Next, I was hosting weekend pop-ups at Balboa Park & even at a few carnival events with my parents. Now, Stefawniee’s Closet can be found in two physical stores!
The first is a collective store called ADORE, shared with other small businesses and located in one of the most popular malls in the area, Plaza Bonita. The second is in a studio called DIVINE CREATIVES STUDIO and it is a space shared with two more entrepreneurs, Angelica an eyelash extension specialist and Lilia a brow technician. This is Stefawniee’s Closet headquarters and larger location at the moment. It can be found in Old Town, right off of the freeway 5, between Liberty Station and Old Town’s Historic Park. This location doesn’t have the heaviest foot traffic. It is inside of a commercial building, on the second floor. Because of this, I consider it a hidden gem or a “hole-in-the-wall shop.” You know the kind that you never knew was there, but when you find it, you’re like “Where has it been my whole life?!” Stefawniee’s Closet is just that.
This location holds all of our inventory from the first collection to the latest DIOSA collection and everything in between. Anybody who comes in finds a piece to fall in love with. The brand’s style reflects my personal style, and if you explore our inventory, you will find there is no permanently set aesthetic. Every collection or drop is well thought out with its own flare. Fashion is where I feel the safest, taking risks and breaking rules. I love mixing it up and have always enjoyed expressing myself through my outfits. Therefore, the mission at Stefawniee’s Closet is to inspire you to be playful with clothes and experiment with looks you may have hesitated before. If you love reasonably-priced, beautiful clothes, I invite you to visit Stefawniee’s Closet. If you’re unable to stop by in person, you can shop on our website StefawnieesCloset.com or check out our Instagram for quality content and fashion inspiration.
Alright, so before we go, can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
What’s next for Stefawniee’s Closet? Expansion and exposure. Now that Stefawniee’s Closet has a strong foundation, I feel comfortable expanding. Who knows you might run into a capsule collection the next time you visit your hairdresser or lash artist. I am working on bringing Stefawniee’s Closet to more eyes in various physical businesses in San Diego and surrounding cities. Moreover, one of my favorite ways to gain exposure is through collaborations. I enjoy collaborating with passionate creatives including, but not limited to, aspiring influencers, models, photographers, makeup artists & other small businesses. If you or someone you know is interested in hosting a capsule collection or would like to collaborate, I can be reached via email at StefawnieesCloset@gmail.com or Instagram @StefawnieesCloset.
- Website: www.StefawnieesCloset.com
- Instagram: Instagram.com/StefawnieesCloset
- Facebook: Facebook.com/StefawnieesCloset
- Other: https://www.tiktok.com/@stefawnieescloset?_t=8V5yOs5yPPC&_r=1