It Girls | CLAUDIA & GRETA
I have had the pleasure of knowing Claudia for the better part of 5 years. We went to college together where I was a Minority Mentor and Claudia picked me to be hers! I instantly remember finding so much joy in getting to know her. Anyone who comes into contact with Claudia knows her happiness and positivity is contagious. Since then, I have had the pleasure of being her friend. When she and her sister Greta started mi dulce fortaleza, I knew that I had to ask them to be It Girls. Their journey is so beautiful and encouraging. I love that they decided to build their brand together and everything that it stands for... a celebration of culture and lifestyle with their own magic sauce. I can't wait for you to meet them!
Name: Claudia and Greta
Age: Claudia is 24 and Greta is 21
Job Title/Company: mi dulce fortaleza
Education Background: Claudia is attending University of Georgia, majoring in Advertising with a certificate in New Media and will graduate in December and Greta is attending Emory University and double majoring in Psychology and French. She will graduate next May.
1. Tell us a little about who you are
We’re sisters, coffee shop enthusiasts, YouTubers, bloggers, travelers, and go getters.
2. What sparked your interest in starting mi dulce fortaleza?
mi dulce fortaleza is divided into two distinct parts: a portion for lifestyle and a portion for culture. The lifestyle bit is dedicated to our great grandma, she was our inspiration. She was a self-made journalist, who eventually wrote for the magazine Mundo Internacional. During her time there, she traveled the world interviewing prestigious people from all backgrounds and areas, such as consuls and ambassadors. All while doing this, she took great care of her health and body and made herself into a fashion and beauty inspiration. She was unapologetic about who she was and what she stood for. We found this so empowering, so we decided we want to inspire the same feeling in other girls. For the culture portion, we wanted to find a way to celebrate it and encourage people to become open-minded about those who look different and think differently from them. Since we grew up creating art and being surrounded by it, we decided to do approach it from a creative perspective and interview artists, writers, musicians, etc. Music and the arts are such powerful ways to connect people and open their eyes to new possibilities. To combine these two concepts, we wanted a strong name. We thought of our mom, who has persevered through so much, so we came up with the name mi dulce fortaleza which translates to my sweet strength.
3. Who are you most influenced by?
C: Definitely the people I surround myself with. I have to be careful because I’m very easily influenced. So that’s why I always try to become friends with people who inspire me and push me out of my comfort zone to be better and go a step farther with my goals. Plus hanging out with happy, motivating people always leaves me in such a good mood!
G: For me, I most influenced by my own thoughts and my physical surroundings. Like Claudia, I strive to spend time with people that motivate me and believe in me, instead of stress me out-- Ain’t nobody got time for anything less! But apart from those I surround myself with, what I tell myself is a game-changer. If I wake up thinking, “geez, I don’t feel like doing today,” then I really won’t feel like doing today. I always keep my thoughts in reality and try to not worry too much about what I can’t control. My surroundings are also super important to me. I love creating an atmosphere that has all the good vibes, like my bedroom. Candles, fairy lights, and art are essential.
4. What were your first jobs and how long did you hold that position?
C: My first job was babysitting and petsitting. I did that for pretty much all of high school and I loved it!
G: My first job ever was at a Kumon Math and Reading Learning Center! I always kind of avoided jobs that required me to stack books, clean tables, and deal with angry customers. I worked at Kumon for a full year and fell in love with all the young kids I tutored.
5. Can you share one of your proudest achievements with us?
C: Definitely keeping mi dulce fortaleza going. I have so many interests and my mind is always bouncing from one shiny thing to another. So seeing that we’ve worked hard to keep our blog going this long makes me feel so proud of myself. It’s rare that I keep something up for a long time before I move onto a new interest, so I’m excited to see where I can take it!
G: I would have to agree with my sister. Starting a blog has always been something I have looked at with such admiration. It was a task that seemed so huge that I never dared to touch it. When my sister and I sat down and made the decision to begin this journey, I have never loved something so deeply! The people we are touching, the stories we are telling, the people we are meeting is so irreplaceable. And, of course, doing this all with my sister by my side. It’s almost like a dream.
6. What were your initial goals with your work? How have they evolved?
Initially, we wanted to create content that inspired and empowered women to embrace wholeheartedly who they are, as well as inspire people to embrace those who are different from them. I think our goals are still the same, but now that we’ve actually taken the time to interview people and talk to them, our goal is to make sure that everything we post, create, and upload goes back to our ‘why’. It’s what fires us up and keeps us going. We want people to see our ‘why’ and feel the same positive, motivating energy.
7. What do you think is the most important life skill you learned from being an entrepreneur?
C: You have to value yourself. Finding your worth and knowing the worth of your work are two of the most important things you could ever do. Without those two, you have nothing and no one will believe in you. Once you understand what your value is, you can grow to become even better.
G: To just start. I spent many years just thinking about how badly I wanted to start blogging and putting out Youtube videos, but I never thought I had anything to offer. But if you start now, time will pass either way. You will thank yourself for having started when you did. From there, you can only move on up.
8. Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
C: I really want to see mi dulce fortaleza grow and become a full-time job for me. That’s my goal for where I want to be in 5 years. I love that we live in this start-up generation because I know I can find people who are passionate about creating content and producing amazing things. I’m so excited about this, and I would love to see this little blog grow to become something as influential as Vogue or CoverGirl.
G: Like Claudia said, I see myself working with my sister in a team on mi dulce fortaleza. The feeling I get when I complete a video or a blog post is incomparable to anything else. This really tells me know much I love doing what we do. On top of mi dulce fortaleza, I have always had such a passion for global health. In whatever way possible, I would love our blog to support global health disparities, especially for women and young girls around the world. But one step at a time!
9. What is a typical day like for you?
G: Uf! That is a good question. I have been basically a chicken with my head cut off the past couple of weeks. But strangely enough, I’ve been loving it! I usually have a class in the morning at around 8:30 or 9 am, before which I scramble to grab a snack to inhale on the shuttle to campus. My stomach loves to talk during class otherwise. After class, I usually grab a coffee to shake myself awake and some kind of yummy breakfast. As you can see, food is very important in my daily routine. While I’m sipping, I bust out some work for class, just so I can thank myself later, and check up on the blog. Claudia and I usually plan out blog goals for the week that we divide up between the both of us according to our personal strengths. If I don’t have a class later in the day, I squeeze in the gym. This is definitely one of my favorite parts of my day. Of course, I inhale some more food and then head to work. I currently work at a tutoring facility for young kids, and it is so rewarding. The kids melt my heart every single time. I come/crawl home around 7:45 pm to some dinner and get some more work done for the next day. Phew!
C: My days are always busy! I try to start my day at 7 am because I love getting up before anyone else just so I can have some me time. I’ll make myself a warm drink, usually an earl grey tea or a coffee and then journal or watch some youtube videos. At 8, I open up a can of cat food for Shasta, my kitty, and play with her. Around 9, I make myself breakfast and start getting ready for the day. Doing my makeup is definitely my favorite part of getting ready for the day so I’ll take my time, light some candles, and play good music to jam to. Once I’m done, I sit down to look at what I need to do and start accomplishing everything one by one. I try to get everything important done and out of the way before I head to class. Then I’ll head over to campus for class. Before, I would just head back home after class but now I’ve started going to coffee shops to sit down and get some work done, which has actually been really helpful and made me so much more productive! Since I usually pack a lot of snacks with me my next meal isn’t until dinner time. So I head back home to make some yummy food. Lately, before I start eating I’ve been going to the gym at my apartment and then I’ll come back to eat my food. At 9:30 is when I feed Shasta and by then I’m starting to get everything ready for the next day. To end the night, I make a cup of tea and hang out with my roommates or I’ll watch a show on Netflix and then head to bed.
10. What was the biggest obstacle you’ve faced so far in the process of pursuing your goals?
This might be cheesy, but the biggest obstacle we face is ourselves. There have been so many times where we’ve doubted ourselves or hesitated on executing an idea because we thought it might not be good enough. It’s always hard to get out of your head. However, that’s the best part of working together. We balance each other out and push one another towards our goals.
11. What is the best piece of advice you have received?
C: One of my best friends used to tell me all the time, “someway, some how, it will always work itself out.” It stuck with me when I was going through a hard time. Things don’t always work out the way we want them to, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution to a problem. In time, things are revealed to us and we can slowly start putting the pieces together to get to where we need to be. It’s always helped me put things in perspective when I’m feeling like things are out of my control.
G: There is one piece of advice that my mom has phrased in many different ways throughout my life. Essentially it is, “everything you are running from is in your head.” I have learned in my life that the mind is SO freaking powerful. It’s almost scary. You can make yourself have a bad day even when everything is going right. On the other side, you can make yourself have a good day even when everything is going wrong. It’s all up to you. However, no one ever said it was easy. It takes a lot of practice to train yourself to think of things in a different light. But perspective is everything.
12. When do you get your best ideas?
Funny enough, our best ideas often do not come when we sit down at a table with our laptops, ready to plan our next post or video. They often come to us when we are in class, at school, basically when we least expect it. These ideas are often our favorite. We never try to force a video or a post. If we are not entirely passionate about it, we find it harder to put our hearts in it. But, of course it doesn’t hurt to get some inspiration. When we feel we are in a creative funk, we often make diagrams, word vomit lists, jot lists. We just talk about what WE would love to read or watch. We really try for our brand to represent us and who we are!
13. Can you share with us one time that you failed and what you learned from that failure?
C: A few semesters ago, I took a TEDTalk class. At the end of the semester I had to prepare my own little TEDTalk, or TEDMe. I was so excited about my topic and felt so confident about it that I didn’t really take the time I needed to thoroughly practice my talk. So the day of, I got up on stage and, a few lines into my talk, I completely blanked. It was so embarrassing I almost broke down in tears, but I refused to walk off the stage. So, I pushed through and tried my best to recall what I had wanted to say. It made me realize that in order to be successful at something, you have to take the time to prepare. So now anytime I have to give a speech or even go in for an interview, I make sure to dedicate some of my time to prepare myself so that I can show up and kill it.
G: Last year, I was involved in an organization whose president did not seem to like me too much. If you asked me why, I could not tell you. Whether it was my racial background, my personality, I don’t know. I kept thinking, “maybe I need to try harder” or “maybe I need to break down their walls myself.” I tried my best to be a loyal, hardworking, and kind organization member. But it felt as though nothing I ever did was good enough for them. Their attitude towards me started to affect my self-esteem and motivation to do well. I felt as though my opinions were irrelevant and even ridiculous in the organization. Because of this going on for a full year, I decided to leave the organization altogether. Thinking of this experience, I realize now that no one has the right to dictate you how you feel inside. I did not want to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to like you-- you cannot possibly please every single human being on this planet. But you are in control of yourself and how you react. I learned to become stronger and more resilient internally and prove anyone wrong who doubts my ability. I know how hard I work and I know how dedicated I am to things I care about. No one should make you feel otherwise.
14. How do you unwind?
G: For me, I cannot live without exercise. Getting my beast mode on, sweating out all my stress and frustrations, takes away all of my anxiety. The time I have exercising is the way I take care of myself and have some me-time. Apart from a good workout session, I love to just go out and enjoy the fresh air. One of my favorite things to do to get my mind off all that is going on is to grab a friend, go on a nice drive to a nice location, get some ice cream or iced coffee, go shopping, walk around, and just enjoy their company.
C: Like Greta said, going out with friends and enjoying their company has always been one of my favorite ways to take it easy. I love to laugh and have a fancy cocktail when I’m feeling overwhelmed, so doing that with friends is always the best. I also really enjoy being in my room all cuddled up. I have a bunch of fairy lights and cozy candles, so I’ll light those and make a big cup of tea or Nutella hot chocolate and journal, read a good book, or snuggle with my cat and watch something on Netflix or YouTube. Getting all cuddled in my bed when I’ve had a long day is one of my favorite ways to pamper myself.
15. What would you tell someone who is struggling with balancing school, life, and building a brand?
Time management and scheduling are your best friends. It’s really hard to do everything, especially when you want to be good at everything. So taking time to sit down and create a routine that works for you is so important. Obviously, if you’re in school, that is your priority. So make sure to keep that first. After you do that, you can feel your days out and see which are better for focusing on your brand and which ones are better dedicated to other things. For us, we have days where we dedicate time to creating and brainstorming content for our blog and YouTube channel, while other days we prioritize post-production and scheduling. Also, if you have social media channels, definitely take advantage of scheduling apps like Hootsuite because they are life-changing! Finally, have fun with it! If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.
16. What do you hope people take away from your story?
As mi dulce fortaleza, we hope people feel valued, heard, and represented in the stories that we share and the content we create. The people we touch is always in our minds whenever we come together to create a new video or write a new post. It’s what we are here for. We hope for all women, of all cultures and ages, to feel beautiful and valued in their own skin. Believing that you are irreplaceable is the first step to an empowered life. As for the journey we are on, we hope others who feel afraid to dive into their passions for whatever reason to feel that fear, hold onto it, but do the thing anyway. Feeling scared is okay, but it takes courage to learn to use the fear as motivation to move forward regardless.
17. Anything we missed that you would like to share?
Make sure to keep up with us! We are on all platforms of social media so feel free to see what we are up to. We love interacting with our followers, so don’t be afraid to reach out and say hey.