Alyssa Morin
January 13, 2017 11:46 am
Natalia Durazo / www.instagram.com

If Selena Quintanilla and Tupac had a baby, the Bella Doña fashion brand would be the result. It’s a quote co-founder and singer Lala Romero said once, and she couldn’t be more spot-on. The L.A.-based clothing store, Bella Doña, exudes that old-school glamour from the barrio (hood) and its namesake comes from the boss babe and iconic film actress María Felíx, who was essentially the Mexican Marilyn Monroe.

Bella Doña gives off a chola princess vibe with streetwear-styled tees that speak to Latinas on a deeper level. I mean, who doesn’t want to wear a shirt that says muñeca (doll), $32 or, my personal fave, loca pero cute$18? It’s that type of chingona (bad bitch) attitude that sets this fashion brand apart. And trust, they have a chingona AF crop top, $30, that you can wear when you’re feeling yourself!

But when you think of the two genius minds behind the streetwear store, it makes sense that Bella Doña is a successful clothing line. Natalia Durazo is not only the HBIC of Honey B Gold, a jewelry line, but she’s the co-founder, photographer, and model of Bella Doña. Lala Romero is equally just as badass. Not only does she have that “pretty brown sound,” as she often says about her music (which is 100 percent true), but she’s a host of Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio station, and she’s also creating the designs and modeling for Bella Doña.

These chicas are hustlers, proving that with hard work, creativity, and drive, you can achieve anything. Lala and Natalia spoke to HelloGiggles about balancing Bella Doña while also pursuing their own careers and passions, figuring out their fave Selena song and outfit, and possibly starting their own cosmetics line.

HelloGiggles: What inspired y’all to create Bella Doña?

Natalia Durazo: It was more of us not really finding the stuff that we wanted to wear. We always found ourselves wearing boy clothes. There wasn’t necessarily a girl streetwear brand that represented us or our style. So we were like, ‘Why don’t we just make our own shit?’

Lala Romero: Streetwear has been so male dominated. Any time there’s been an occasion that a male line does like a girl tee, it’s rarely from a female perspective. Bella Doña for me was kind of a direct translation of the songs that I write, and my music videos. It’s all very reflective — like if my songs came to life or what I want the videos themselves to look like — they kind of merge all of the things our culture.

HG: What was it like starting a business? Any advice for other boss babes who want to start their own business?

LR: Look, there’s two of us, so that makes a lot of running our business [much] easier. I think there is no way I could do it on my own without her. Natalia had a lot of online retail experience and she has the Honey B Gold jewelry line. I was lucky because when we decided to do this, she came with that experience and I came with, I feel like, almost a built-in fan base. It’s tricky because I think we have a very, very unique circumstance where we’re both artists outside of the business. But, don’t get me wrong, we fuck up all the time.

ND: But I think it’s a very important to know that we are both self-taught. We’ve literally taught ourselves how to do everything.

HG: What is it like creating a brand that not only speaks to a culture and community, but that is so fresh and new?

LR: I’m really passionate about connecting with people and figuring out how to push our culture forward. I was already passionate about my community, whether I was a Chicano studies major in school or dropping out to do music. My music is all about my culture transitioning into this shit we’re already really passionate about.

HG: How do you think retail businesses are changing, especially when you can directly communicate with your consumers on social media?

LR: I think business is constantly evolving and changing when you have platforms like Instagram and you have the rise of the social media influencer. That’s a real business for some people. There’s a lot of learning that we have to do as we go because we don’t have it all figured out. And I think that might be one of the fun things that our demo connects with. They know we’re just like them, just figuring it out.

HG: How do y’all balance your fashion line with your other passions and careers?

ND: I’m still trying to figure that part out [laughs]. Well, it’s hard because I do everything for Honey B Gold as well. It gets a little overwhelming sometimes. I feel myself giving more energy to one brand over the other, and that’s something I’m personally still trying to figure out — how to balance those two things, plus my life.

LR: Plus her Tinder dates. We have this conversation a lot. Natalia actually gave me a lecture on me figuring out a balance in my life because we have Bella Doña and then I do a show on Beat 1 Radio on Apple Music, and then I have my own music. All the wheels kind of have to turn at the same time because all the brands kind of depend on each other in a weird way. For example, Nat will always be like you don’t ever just chill, but I think it’s also hard when all the things that you do you love so much.

HG: What are some things you’ve done to relax or recharge?

ND: I made Lala go to like this deprivation tank. You go and you meditate and you’re in salt water, and it’s literally like a bathtub in a cave type thing. You go in there by yourself and float on the salt water in the complete dark. [I told Lala], this is going to help you meditate. I get out and she has been already waiting for me for like 45 minutes because she only lasted like five.

LR: You go into this vault in the water and it’s pitch black. You have to just lay in it and float butt naked. It’s quiet, so it’s just you in this silent little cave, and you’re supposed to just not think about anything. But if you’re a thinker and that’s all you do — fucking think — it’s a nightmare.

HG: What inspires your new designs?

LR: It’s just everything that we grew up seeing, like being in middle school and high school in the ‘90s and seeing our older tia’s (aunt’s), Nat’s older sisters, just all the shit we grew up seeing.

HG: So I know Lala used to have a nail polish line, and Natalia, you have a jewelry line, will there be a Bella Doña cosmetic line?

LR: Bella Doña to me isn’t just a clothing line, it’s an umbrella for an entire lifestyle line for all of the things that we love to do. No one should be surprised if we step into that area.

HG: Y’all really encourage women and girls to be their own leaders, who are some of your role models and what barriers do you hope to break?

ND: Our namesake is La Doña (María Felíx) — she is somebody who we just looked up to. She was basically the Mexican Marilyn Monroe. We just always look up to game changers.

LR: Part of the reason why we did this, is we have always felt there’s a huge lack of role models in our community. Like if I can sit here and name maybe only five role models, that’s really sad. So we kind of like put a bunch together to say we love this about Frida Kahlo, and this about María Felíx, and this about Selena, and even Jennifer Lopez. There are so many strong ones, but there’s few and far between, you know? It’s like what the fuck? Where are our stories? Where’s our perspective in the picture? That’s basically what we’re trying to do. We’re just looking to inspire more girls to tell their stories.

HG: As the associate beauty editor, I have to ask, what are your best-kept beauty secrets?

LR: We both are obsessed with thrift shopping, and I think it was a result of growing up with huge families, not a lot of money, and having to be really creative. It sort of made us embrace being different and it was like, yeah we’re poor but we’re fly as fuck.

NR: What I do is — and I learned this from my cousins in Mexico — they get a little teaspoon and they curl their eyelashes with it. A few years after that, I put my own twist on it, and I heated it up a little bit with al lighter, and it’s like a curling iron for your eyelashes.

HG: This sounds like Bella Doña has a future in makeup! I would buy it!

ND: Exactly.

HG: So I know you guys love Selena, probably as much as I do! I even have one of yall’s Selena shirts. What is your favorite Selena song and outfit?

ND: My favorite song is No Me Queda Mas, with the mariachis. I love it, and my favorite outfit of hers is the white gown she wore at the Grammys.

LR: Asking someone to pick a favorite Selena song is like asking someone to pick a favorite child or something. For sure, my favorite outfit — I really liked her all white with the cowgirl boots. A look that I love is when she braided her hair. Actually, Natalia, I feel like that’s why you braided your hair.

ND: Yes! This was like 3 to 4 years ago, and I really wanted to braid my hair, but I felt some kind of way, like cultural appropriation or something. Somehow, I came across that picture — as I was debating — and I’m like if Selena did it, then I can do it, too!

LR: That’s how I ask a lot of things, like ‘Would Selena do it?’ There’s a photo flying around and she kind of looked like an In Living Color fly girl, and she’s wearing leggings and a Malcolm X hat. Like Selena wearing a Malcolm X hat speaks fucking volumes because it’s bigger than just a look.

HG: What other fashion goodies can fans look forward to?

ND: We’re currently working on a kids’ line. It’s going to be in the Bella Doña family, but it’s not like a mini-me version of Bella Doña.

LR: A lot of our base is moms and they’re looking for cute things to connect their children with, and we’re really excited about the line!

You can check out Bella Doña’s Instagram page for fashion inspo and shop their fly tees and candles (that way you have good vibes all year round) on their website. All products range from $6 to $55, so you can’t go wrong if you want to treat yourself and your besties!

And if you really want to get down with these girls, they’re having a party, free of charge, for all of the boss babes in Los Angeles on January 15th starting at 9 p.m.

We can only hope Selena will be playing that way we can throw on our bustiers and hoop earrings!

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