Can you introduce yourselves? Tell me a bit about who you are and where you’re from.
Valeria: I’m Valeria Laguna and I studied advertising at the University of Florida. I’m originally from Caracas, Venezuela and I moved here when I was two. I was very young but I still consider myself very Venezuelan.
Leslie: My name is Leslie and my family is from Nicaragua but I was born here in Hialeah. I originally started studying psychology but then I switched to social media marketing, which is when I first started my blog. I do feel like I hold a very Hispanic culture in me even if I was born and raised here. My household has always been Nicaraguan heavy and living in Miami is a melting pot of Hispanic culture.
Introduce me to your creative projects.
V: “Rad Redemption” started because I liked a little bit of everything, I wanted to share my voice and love and opinion of fashion. It’s been really exciting but it’s hard to do and stay consistent. There are times where I’ve seen a lot of growth with it and times where it drops, but when I get messages from followers asking for opinions or when I get positive feedback it makes me so happy.
L: I started “Como La Leslie” in 2017 and I wanted to incorporate my Hispanic roots into it. I’m a huge fan of Selena and I took “Como La Leslie” from “Como La Flor”. The blog itself is a lot of affordable fashion and that’s the main focus, but I talk a lot about personal stuff and the evolution of me. “Girl It’s From” is a little side project of where I go to stores around me and find things I like and share where people can buy it, it was just something fun. The idea is when people ask you where you get things from you go “girl it’s from…”
Where did Rad Redemption come from?
V: I’ve always loved the word ‘rad’ and how it takes you back to when things ‘were rad.’ But it came about when I went to this Japanese restaurant with my sister and we were trying out names on social media to see if they were taken and then my sister just goes “why not rad redemption?” It went because it was like my comeback into fashion and it just stuck.
When did you first get into fashion?
L: I guess growing up when you stop wearing the clothes your mom makes you wear and your individualism just starts to develop. But it changes, your style evolves over time and it feels like a moment in your life. Fashion and your outfits are attached to memories.
V: For me I think it’s part of my nature too, my grandma was very elegant and fashionable and my mom loved getting us dresses made and loved matching my sisters and I. My sisters are both very into fashion as well and they’ve influenced my fashion sense and love of fashion. It’s just been a part of me and something I’ve had in my family.
What do you love about fashion? What resonates with you the most?
L: It’s showing yourself to the world, it’s about setting up your first impression. You want to put your best foot forward and show the world what you like and who you are, and fashion does that even if it’s just a t-shirt and jeans. That resonates with me the most. That and how you see other people too. You want people to notice you
and fashion helps you feel good when people compliment your outfit.
V: To me it gives me a sense of myself and a sense of confidence. I enjoy waking up in the morning and finding what to wear, it’s fun and it makes me happy. It’s a form of self-impression and there’s so much history to fashion that let’s you geek out over it. I also love seeing how people express themselves and show who they are through fashion.
Does being Hispanic affect your fashion sense?
V: Because of my sister I’m very into Latin American fashion designers. Latin American culture in general is just bright and loud and that definitely influences the way that I dress.
L: I feel that I, along with a lot of people, associate Latino with bright colors, and that influences the way I pick my clothes. I do embrace being a Latina blogger, I want to make that known. It’s more than just fashion and beauty, as Latina’s there’s so many berries that we have to break in life in general so it’s more than just fashion.
In terms of fashion, what’re you most attracted to? What’s your style?
V: I don’t think I have a specific style. I love that one day I can wake up and decide to wear all black and grunge and the next day I can wear a happy pink dress. I’ll try out different trends and it’s an ever-evolving style.
L: I agree with that, but there’s one fashion style I always tend to go back to when I’m into modern trends and that’s retro style. The 70s or the 80s, that kind of retro look. So even if I’m wearing all black I try and incorporate something retro since I love that era of fashion. Now that the 2000s are back I’m excited to incorporate that too since it’s like modernizing or incorporating old fashion trends.
What’s one fashion item everyone should have and a fashion tip everyone should know?
V: I have three items! A good basic white T, a good blazer, and a good leather jacket. I don’t care if it’s 90 degress in Miami, I’m always wearing a leather jacket or a blazer with a white T under it. You just need those three things, nothing else. Not even underwear. Then the fashion tip is if you like it, wear it. There are no rules, everyone is so different. Whatever you like just wear it.
L: I’m going to go with three also! You need the perfect indigo denim jacket, combat boots since they go with everything, and basic white or black shirts in every style.
V: That’s more than three!
L: Okay I would have to pick a black shirt then. For a fashion tip, I don’t want to sound arrogant and give tips since everyone should wear what they love, but I think a good tip is to wear what complements your body. Find prints and cuts that complement your body so they extenuate your beauty.
Is there a certain stereotype that comes with fashion?
V: I think some people think that it’s necessary to spend thousands of dollars on fashion when it’s totally not. You don’t have to buy a $2,000 purse to have style or express yourself at all. The high-end fashion industry I do believe is very snobby and definitely has some egos that could tone down.
L: Influencers now start off at a point where they can’t afford Tom Ford or Doir and they wear cheaper brands. But as they grow higher brands start sending them merchandise, so it’s hard to see influencers loose that touch and authenticity from when they started. They go from budget fashion bloggers to high fashion and they don’t resonate with the same audience. You don’t need to have all high-end stuff and that shouldn’t affect your self-esteem. It doesn’t have much more to offer you, you don’t need it. I rather have $200 in my bank account and a cute $10 purse than the other way around, you can look expensive when on a budget.
What do you want people to know about fashion as an art form?
V: The love and the passion that people put into fashion is intense. One of my favorite Colombian designers Daniela Salcedo works with low income tribes and women in Colombia to make her jewelry. So when you forget all of the stereotypes that you have to spend all this money on fashion, there’s this strong community willing to help each other through fashion. Plus the time and passion they put into the design and the textiles and everything is just like any other artist.
L: The idea, the brainstorming, the production that goes on behind it is all the same process as art. It’s an art form because we’re all our own artists as well; it’s expressive, people hang up art for it to be admired but we want to be admired as well.
What is a fashion trend that you hate?
V: Socks and sandals. Maybe don’t wear them outside of your house. I also don’t like the bucket hats that are going on right now, but who knows maybe in a bit I’ll come back with a bucket hat.
L: I really hate the saggy Justin Bieber pants that look like you have a diaper on. I also hate those dirty sneakers that everyone gets that are really expensive, Golden Goose. I think Valeria has a pair.
V: Yeah I have a pair…
L: I don’t get it.
When did you get into blogging?
L: Summer 2017. Putting yourself out there on social media is scary, so I started posting once a year. Then I took a big leap from doing that to posting every single day.
V: I was having a really hard time in the beginning of college and I started this blog to try and help myself out. It saved me, it was an outlet for me to talk and express myself. It’s scary because no one wants people to judge you or your work, but fuck it. Now I do whatever I want and I love it. The people that share their work or their art out there I respect so much because it takes guts, and those people that judge them I feel sad for because I just think they wish they had something to share but don’t.
What’s the best thing/hardest thing about blogging?
L: The best is the feedback that I’ve received from people and the support they all give me for expressing myself and sharing my stories. The hardest thing is time management and comparing yourself to other bloggers. Social media is a double-edged sword because you compare yourself to other huge bloggers. It’s hard but you can’t compare yourself to those people, especially because people are following you for you and you can’t lose that authenticity.
V: For me the best thing is when I can help someone out. Seeing those followers that write back and say they loved a product they bought that I recommended, or they love the outfit I put together. The hardest thing is being consistent and motivation. I had a rut for six months where I didn’t post, but I get back into it and I love it.
What is your process like?
L: I would draft topics that I would write about for the month, and on the weekends I would sit and write and take pictures.
V: I’m not very organized in terms of the website but with my Instagram I would plan photoshoots and make my family photograph me so I could make content. Now I feel like it’s more organic when posts come up and with content. I get a lot of inspiration through Pinterest and I add my own twist to it.
How do you see more Hispanic representation in the fashion world?
V: I do think there’s a lack of representation for sure but in the last couple of years there’s been a lot change. A Colombian designer Johanna Ortiz just took out her second collaboration with H&M and that’s super exciting for Latin America. Superga just did a collaboration with Latin American influencers as well and each influencer designed a shoe based on their cultural background. So although there’s still a huge lack of representation, lately with social media these Hispanic influencers and designers have been getting a lot of attention and I think that’s really cool.
L: There’s a lack of diversity in general when it comes to high end fashion, but I have noticed that there’s more inclusivity lately. You’re starting to see more people coming out with boutiques and shops and they’re more inclusive from the get-go, which is great.
V: There also needs to be a change in how Hispanics are viewed. We’re all not Sofia Vergaras with huge boobs or maids, we can’t all be perceived like that.
What are some words of inspiration for aspiring creatives?
V: Just start. It’s hard when you’re a perfectionist and you want all your work out there to be perfect, but if you’re like that then you’re never going to do anything. Just start. You also don’t need expensive equipment to start, just do it with what you’ve got. There’s no one stopping you, if it makes you happy then do it. There are hundreds of people out there that want to do what you’re doing, so just go out there and do it.
L: You have to be like Cardi B and not give a fuck, she just says whatever she wants. Be authentic to yourself and to the message that you’re trying to relay to people. In addition to that, just do it. There’s a misconception that blogging is oversaturated, but I don’t see it like that because everyone has their unique voice and people want to know what you think. Stay true to yourself and do what you love.
Check out the site Rad Redemption and Como La Leslie.
IG: Rad Redemption - Como La Leslie