The Story of Bodeguita

Welcome to Bodeguita

Thank you so much for "stopping by" to check Bodeguita out and support a woman business (ad)venture -- I truly appreciate you taking the time to browse around! All the things you find on this site from the stories I share with you on the "Tales from a (UN)broken NYer" Blog to the designs, prints, accessories, and so on, featured in the Shop came to life right here in the heart of Manhattan from my very own Living Room ;-) My name is Irene, I'm a New Yorker that usually spends her day running  around welcoming visitors to the New York City (as a licensed tour guide) and snapping away with my camera (as a photographer.) As a young NY Small-business owner myself, I thought to start sharing my home & my true love (New York City) along with my experience of working and living in the city trying to juggle life and work the best way I know how. I say the story of Bodeguita is a story of TRUE LOVE meaning it will have highs and lows, happy moments and disappointments. In my life, as in my work, I like keeping it real and I don’t (usually) sugar coat things. When I have a good story to share, I'm so happy to share it with other but I think it's equally important to share the difficulties and the doubts. I believe both the good and the bad can be equally inspirational and helpful. Especially as women embarking in new entrepreneurial adventures, we should strive to help and support each others in authentic and meaningful ways.

Is Bodeguita the right place for you? If you love New York City whether you do it as a NYer or from a distance, if you have an entrepreneurial mind, if you are running or want to run your own business, if you at times stumble and struggle through life, if you love authenticity and want to connect with likeminded people then Bodeguita might be just the place for you!

Bodeguita is definitely a one-woman show as I have personally snapped every photo, created every print, designed all apparel, developed the website, launched the new Social Media accounts, and pretty much taken care of every aspect of the business. If you are an entrepreneur or run a small business yourself, you know what it means to have multiple hats and have to fill all those roles. However, like with everything in life, our successes are not ours alone, there is always a village behind each one of us. My village consists of some pretty amazing best friends and family members that have been my support and life-line since the very beginning of this journey. But let's go back a few months, at the very beginning. It was March 2020 and the world as I once knew it came to a halt.

Bodeguita NYC |  About Us | Designs by Irene | Christmas Photo NYC is Golden Tshirt

Why I created Bodeguita

As for so many people around the world, my life has dramatically changed due to COVID-19. By April 2020, NYC was the epicenter of the COVID pandemic in the United States and my prospects were pretty bleak. Just to give you a bit of background -- I'm a certified Tour Guide and I run a local Tour Company in NYC with my family. Clearly not the business you want to be in when a global pandemic comes knocking on your door. For the first time in my life, I had to deal with loss, business struggle, depression, and every responsibility that comes your way when you become an adult. I was too little to truly remember 2001, and I was in h. school during the 2008 crisis. So 2020 has been my first true crisis as a young adult. Forced home, I tried to maintain some sanity by "escaping" in my arts and passions -- photography, videography, and design. What started as a simple past-time to kill those long quarantined days, to keep my mind occupied and preventing it to go to some dark places, it soon became a more substantial project and possible business venture. And so, Bodeguita came to be.

My Inspiration - New York City

If I have to say that ONE thing that inspires me most, it would have to be New York City. As I used to always say to my clients, more than a city, it's a live ecosystem, a living creature. The true beauty of NYC is its diversity, its chaos, its people, its successes and its failures. Its ability to always reinvent itself, face every struggle, and somehow come out on top. Very much like our lives are a mix of highs and lows and learning to embrace the good and that bad, it's what propels us forward in our journey. And that is what inspires me. As a New Yorker, it was not easy to sit back and just stay home while it seemed like the entire country, and the world, was betting on our demise. One thing you can definitely say of us New Yorkers is that we are proud. Proud of our city, proud to be New Yorkers. Even when we hate it, we are still proud.

I wanted to create a space and a brand that was reflective of my love for the city, for my home. Something that might connect with others experiencing the same mix of feelings. I decided to share my daily (well, almost daily) stories whether these might be news about the city, stories of successes or failures, struggles in running a business, balancing life etc. And share my more professional experience (as a photographer and designer) by creating a collection of city-inspired prints, photos, and street apparel designs including t-shirts, hoodies, hats, accessories, etc, 

What does Bodeguita mean?

If the name Bodeguita makes you think of a New York City Bodega that's exactly it! The name bodega comes from the Spanish translation of "storeroom" and/or "wine cellar". Possibly one of the most iconic types of stores you will ever find in the city, quintessential New York, the Bodegas are those mom-&-pop, owner-run-and-operated, convenience stores where you can truly find everything you need. These stores are known to be multi-cultural, multi-ethnical, joyful, convivial places -- they are the heart and soul of the city. And if I had to pick that one thing that is exemplary of the spirit of the city, it would be a Bodega!

So when it came to picking a name for my new adventure, I was talking it over with Dad and the idea of Bodega came up ... Of course, I had to make it a bit more girly, so here you have Bodeguita! Or as Dad would also point out, if you like Mojitos than it should probably remind you of "Bodeguita do Medio" in Havana, Cuba the unofficial birthplace of the drink Mojito! [ ps- also seen in the movie Miami Vice :-)]

FUN FACT: Do you know that there are more than 13,000 bodegas across the city?

My 9 core principles

Another thing that 2020 has made abundantly clear to me is that there are 2 very different ways for people to approach life nowadays. To me, it's extremely important to build a community where everyone regardless of gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation, creed, political affiliation, etc. can feel and be welcomed. I LOVE the idea of love, the idea of coming together, the idea of mixing cultures, the idea of supporting one another. It's extremely important for me that my brand reflects this inclusivity.

So, when it was time for me to think of Bodeguita as a business, I sat down and jot on papers those ideals that speak to me so that I could have my core principles upon which I could build a business.

Happiness + Love + Beauty

Bodeguita NYC Designs Made with Happiness | 3 Core Principles - Happiness, Love & Beauty | Quotes

"Happiness brings you the ability to love and love is the true reflection of one's beauty."

Courage + Truth + Purpose

Bodeguita NYC Designs Made with Happiness | 3 Core Principles - Courage, Truth & Purpose | Quotes

"When you have courage you can face any truth and you will inevitably find your purpose."

Empathy + Peace + Hope

Bodeguita NYC Designs Made with Happiness | 3 Core Principles - Empathy, Peace & Love | Quotes

"Empathy will grant you peace and hope that a better tomorrow is still possible."

There is definitely no room for hate in my life nor in Bodeguita!


Bodeguita - The Blog

When I first started this new adventure, I wasn't quite sure of how to develop the Blog section ... Was I only going to share simple news from the city? Was I going to be more fashion focused? Or was I going to make it more personal? It soon became clear to me, just by re-reading the ideas I jotted down for future blog posts, that I was going towards a more personal and holistic approach. This is why I decided to name the Blog  -- "Tales of a (UN)broken NYer"

I think at times we can all feel like we are broken, we feel down, we feel like we are failing, we have doubts, but it's when we are at these lowest moments, in our place of insecurity and pain, that we can learn to put ourselves back together and be (UN)broken. It's like every time we touch bottom and break down there is an opportunity for us to put ourselves back together better than before. On the blog, I share stories of the city, successes and failures of this NYer and business owner living through one of the most intimidating, challenging, yet inspiring, times of our lives. 

Bodeguita - The Shop

Products you see featured in the Shop include postcards and prints of photographs I personally took, accessories & apparel I've designed. The prints (custom-order only) can be done on laminated paper, wood and metal. All apparel products are made-to-order as well to maintain the highest possible quality while reducing waste and unnecessary prints which in return it allows me to keep the costs reasonable. I collaborate with different brands for the apparel items including Champion, Bella + Canvas and Gildan.

Welcome to a [new] Sustainable Fashion Movement

I love Mother Earth, don't you? I believe in a greener, healthier planet and I believe fashion, style, and environmentally-friendly are NOT mutually exclusive. To be part of the solution and not the problem, here at Bodeguita, each order is made on-demand just for you. We try to avoid waste, overproductions, reprints, etc., and only choose printing-partners that believe in a more sustainable world just like me! Our printing partners use state-of-the-arts printing techniques that allow for minimal waste. The technique used is DTG printing -- direct-to-garment technique where printers use almost zero wastewater and less energy and in return, we have a very low carbon footprint. The inks used are water-based and free of harmful chemicals. Any waste is dealt with per the manufacturer's guidelines and state regulations to minimize the impact on the environment.

We encourage everybody to recycle old T-shirts you may no longer want to keep. We can all work towards a healthier planet!

If you are looking for more info regarding orders, timelines, returns, etc., please visit the support page here.

Designs Made with Happiness!