Zarina Citali Guerrero
Name: Zarina Citali Guerrero
Current City: Los Angeles, CA
Hometown: Mesa, AZ
Occupation:Production & Inventory Manager – MADE by DWC / Social Media Coordinator – B.Yellowtail / Blogger – Estilo Y Alma & Travel Latina
”Zarina was born and raised in Mesa, AZ and moved to Los Angeles in 2015 to pursue a more exciting and fulfilling career. Since moving to Los Angeles, she has interned for a red carpet designer, worked at a sustainable fashion brand, launched her blog and graduated with her Masters in Social Entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California. Currently, Zarina works for a social enterprise, MADE by DWC, and with B.Yellowtail - a brand with a mission to authentic, indigenous designs through fashion. She is passionate about social justice, ethical fashion and travel, and shares stories through her blog - Estilo Y Alma.”
What’s the origin story of Estilo Y Alma, and what are your aspirations for your blog?
I had the idea of starting a blog for years, but I was very hesitant to do so. With the internet being so saturated with bloggers and influencers, I didn’t have the confidence to really start my own. I kept thinking, “who will really care about what I have to say?”. Once I moved to LA, I was able to connect with so many women who were doing their own thing – starting businesses and creative careers, it really gave me the boost of confidence I needed to launch my own platform.
Estilo Y Alma (which is Spanish for Style & Soul) became my platform for sharing some of the topics I am most passionate about – style, social justice, sustainability, and a bearing a bit of my soul. I wanted to educate the public on how linked social justice and consumerism are and inspire others to make more conscious decisions on all of their purchases. I also wanted to talk about my experience as a woman of color and share stories about my own personal journey.
In the future, I hope that Estilo Y Alma can grow to be a platform that women can turn to for resources about ethical brands and a sustainable lifestyle, as well as inspiration for living your most authentic life.
How does fashion play a role in your life?
Fashion is a form of empowerment for me. It allows me to express my individuality while also honoring my cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
For this reason, it is important for me to make choices that also reflect my ethics and values. I use fashion as a way of supporting sustainable businesses and women of color owned brands. Because I am a lover of fashion, I want to ensure that the dollars I spend on clothing are in line with my passion for sustainability and social justice.
I understand you work at the Downtown’s Women’s Center in Los Angeles, will you tell us a little bit about what you do?
The Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) is the first agency in Los Angeles dedicated to addressing the unique ways that women experience homelessness and is focused on ending women’s homelessness in Los Angeles. In a city where homelessness has increased 70% in the last 5 years, the work is increasingly important.
Along with the many services they offer, DWC also operates a social enterprise called MADE by DWC. MADE by DWC consists of 3 business ventures – a café, a resale store, and a line of handmade goods – where we employ women currently experiencing homelessness through a transitional jobs training program. They work within our businesses, earn income, and learn hard & soft skills while on the job. Once they graduate from our program, we connected them with permanent jobs, in hopes of providing them with long-term, sustainable earned income.
Currently, I am the “Production and Inventory Manager” for our handmade goods. We produce an assortment of candles, soaps, stationary and gift items, all made by the women in our transitional jobs training program. In addition to managing and supporting the staff, I manage our production calendar, ensure we are fulfilling orders and oversee all of our inventory needs.
It is truly rewarding work.
Additionally, you recently completed your Master’s Degree in Social Entrepreneurship at USC, what motivated you to get your degree and why did you choose USC?
Getting my Master’s Degree was always a goal of mine – I have always loved academia and knew that I wanted to pursue a post-graduate degree.
When I moved to Los Angeles in 2015, I was hoping to work in the fashion industry – particularly with a sustainable or ethical brand. I began working as an assistant for a friend, Bethany Yellowtail, who was just launching her own fashion brand, B.Yellowtail. I loved the brand and her mission on authentically representing indigenous American designs and felt that her brand had real potential to be a positive force for change in her community. I also saw what it was like to run a businesses and felt that going to business school would be a great next step for me.
One day, while researching business programs at USC (it was down the street from my house and several of my friends did their master’s program there, so I felt like it might be a good choice) I learned that they had a Master’s in Social Entrepreneurship program, and right away it felt like the perfect choice.
A social enterprise is a revenue generating business that is focused on a mission to address some type of social issue and uses its profits to achieve its mission. It fell right in line with my personal belief that profit should always have a purpose, and that business can be used to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues. The program’s focus on entrepreneurship allowed me to really understand the ins and outs of what it takes to develop a strong business, and how to tie earned income with social impact.
To take it a step further, what do you plan to do with your degree?
I am very excited to say that, less than 6 months after graduating, I am already using my degree. Working at MADE by DWC is allowing me to put the knowledge I obtained to use while learning from a great social enterprise.
Long term, I do hope to be working for a sustainable fashion brand or starting my own.
Only time can tell what the next steps will look like, but I’m very excited to feel as though I am on the right path.
When you’re not on the grind, how do you spend your free time?
Given that I truly lead the LA Hustler Lifestyle – with a FT job, a PT social media management job, and my own creative projects, free time doesn’t come about very often. When I do have free time, I do like to focus on relaxing – yoga, Netflix with my partner, or reading (I LOVE to read). On weekends, I love to explore LA by going to museums, pop ups or checking out new restaurants.
Discuss the importance of paying it forward.
There is a Native American proverb that states that “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from the next generation”
I feel like this is a great way to sum up why it is important to pay it forward. Energy is reciprocal, and our time here is greater than ourselves.
With every decision we should be focused on paying it forward, to the next generation and beyond, so that there is an earth to inherit and energy to be shared.
If you could give one piece of advice to young individuals around the globe, what would it be and why?
My biggest piece of advice for young individuals around the world is to really understand your power – the power of your voice, your intentions, and your money.
We create power with everything we say, think and spend our money on. And we should use all of our energy for good. We truly all have that power
Who are some of your greatest influences?
I feel like some of my greatest influences are the women I have in my life. My mother – who immigrated to this country to give me and my siblings a better life and instilled in me my drive, and all my boss ass friends who are out here fulfilling their dreams.
What/who are you grateful for?
I’m grateful to be born in this age – where women have more access to opportunities and equality than ever before.
I’m grateful for my parents, my family, my ancestors, who are my connection to the earth and the spirit world.
I am grateful for all of the amazing, strong women in my life. I am so grateful for positive female friendships.
I am grateful for my partner. He is my center.
Do you have a personal mantra or quote that inspires you?
I love the Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz
Be impeccable with your words
Don’t take anything personally
Don’t make assumptions
Always do your best