Have you ever wanted to embark on a journey of owning your own fashion business? Well this beautiful Los Angeles native did it and she’s only 22! She has defiantly been through the ups and downs of what she wanted to do with her life and how she was going to go about it. While attending UCLA believing she wanted to be a doctor, she found herself one day unfulfilled with school books (about god knows what) and slowly began channeling her energy into her real passion, which was fashion. Her story on her start up to how she began her career is motivating and captivating. I know she is sure to inspire you, because she inspired me.
Store Instagram: @conejocollection
Okay, so Courtney Conejo? The girl with the pretty face, nice skin, and bomb last name, who is she?
Funny story actually, so my last name that I use for social media is actually a nickname given to me by my father when I was a little kid! My dad came to America at the age of 22 and he spoke 6 different languages; one of those being Spanish, and when I was a little kid I had two very big front teeth so he nicknamed me “conejo” which means bunny rabbit in Spanish. Not many people know my real last name unless they grew up with me or have had a class with me! So yeah that’s just a fun little fact about me really!
You’re obviously young. How old are you? Has your age ever discouraged you from following your dreams? I’m sure there are a lot of women, low-key that admire what you are doing and the fact that you are young makes it that much more appealing.
I just turned 22 this year in February so yeah still on the young side. In a way yes, my age has discouraged me, especially because I am still in school at UCLA studying psycho-biology so sometimes I feel like my dreams of being this creative person is discouraged when I am in school because growing up I wanted to be a doctor but when I started designing my own denim shorts and shirts in my freshman year of college (just for myself and my personal style) I began to realize that I did not want to go to school for another 10 years and become a doctor and that instead I wanted to start my own clothing line (which I finally did successfully 4 months ago) But yes I have definitely doubted myself but because people believe in me and love my work so much I have been actually inspired and motivated by other women who look up to me. They might not know it but if it were not for those who support me and what I do with a passion I would have never become the business owner that I am today!
“I have always been the girl in back of class catching up on the newest and hottest trends and trying to figure out what people like, and because of that I was able to begin my clothing line and get not just customers but supporters…”
Your curls and length are phenomenal. I always ask my curly haired beauties what products they use because we have to stick together! Lol.
I literally live by deva-curl, I have struggled with my hair for years because I used to wet it and not put any product in it and then flat iron it and dye it, and it wasn’t until a year and a half ago that I decided to go to Shai (the curl doctor) and let him give me a curl cut and fell in love with the deva-curl products and since then I have not strayed from the process or the products
Your vibes scream Cali girl! Lol. Am I right. What has it been like growing up there for you and do you believe where you’re from has influenced your brand?
-Definitely! SoCal girl from my head to my toes lol! Growing up in LA you are literally surrounded by inspiration, and because of that my environment heavily influenced my brand. I have always been the girl in back of class catching up on the newest and hottest trends and trying to figure out what people like, and because of that I was able to begin my clothing line and get not just customers but supporters, which has been a blessing!
What inspired you to begin the Conejo Collection?
I was making bleached and distressed shirts for myself and for friends and family and when I would post them on my personal Instagram I was getting tones of people ask me where they could purchase them or if they could PayPal me and I send them a shirt (kind of like custom orders), so then a friend of mine who owns her own clothing line suggested I make a website and see if people order, and within a week a had around 3 orders from people across the nation, tons of emails asking about custom orders and people telling me how much they loved my work which gave me the push I needed to continue with my brand and clothing line!
A lot of persons when starting a business never actually start it because lack of funds and they are afraid of just starting off with one or two pieces. What was your beginning like when starting your brand? How did you prove your perseverance?
I definitely owe a lot of my start up success to my mother (Gena) and boyfriend (Cordell) who would go out of their way and collect vintage shirts for me on their free time, enabling me to simple focus on the creating the shirts, instead of spending the beginning of my time going out and looking for shirts, because during this time I still had a full-time job at Nike. They also saved me a lot of money when I started because I did not have to spend money on the actual shirts but instead I was able to focus on the legal aspects like my company name, website domain, and website fees. And plus once I started creating I kind of never really looked at the money I was spending in the beginning because I was having so much fun just being creative! I would have to say one thing that was hard in the beginning was balancing my job at Nike with my clothing line because in the beginning I had to think of creative ways to ship my packages, thank you cards, and labels while still being as cost efficient as possible, and a lot of the times I would be late for work or sleep in too late because I was so exhausted from being up all night working on my dreams and would forget I had an actual job I would have to be at in the morning.
I defiantly see a lot of promise in the Conejo Collection. The collection has so much variety, with the right balance of sexy and sporty. What prompted you to add the bleach marks and rips to the clothing?
It was something I saw that was definitely coming back and style, and any time something is trending you have to take advantage of it as soon as you see it beginning to happen because that’s the prime time to gain supporters and fans of your work. So that’s basically is what I did, when I saw how interested people were in my work I took advantage of that opportunity and took a lap of faith to begin my clothing line.
Walk me through the selection process when choosing graphics to print on T-shirts. You have Pokémon, Elvis Presley’s mugs shot, Super Mario, Marilyn Monroe; I mean the list goes on. It’s awesome! A woman loves options. Is there a special process you must endure while using the celebrities face in your collection?
Not at all, anytime you buy a shirt and re-sell it, as long as it is altered and your own work of art you really can use anything face or character you desire, which is the best part! But as far as when I choose my shirts I really go for either originality (like Super Mario which will NEVER go out of style!) or whats the hottest thing out (trending things like the game Pokemon Go that people were raving about)!
“…any time something is trending you have to take advantage of it as soon as you see it beginning to happen because that’s the prime time to gain supporters and fans of your work.”
To my knowledge you have recently added Jean jackets that bluntly state “Black Girl Magic”, “Not Another Statistic”, and other eye catching statements. Is this your way of releasing your personal views into your fashion? Why did you decide to design your collection with your personal thoughts? If so or if not please go into detail, because either way, the people are for it!
I believe that art is the highest form of personal expression and when I painted those sayings it was during the time when African-Americans were being murdered brutally by the police. I also wanted the saying to be able to pertain to any race who wore them, which I believe works because regardless of your race you can believe black girls are magic and that you yourself are not another statistic in this world which I thought was super cool! I believe that anyone can relate to my personal thoughts and I wanted the people who support me and love my work to see that I am able to still create art while expressing my internal thoughts and feelings and I wanted them to see that what occurs in the world does effect these who are creating and inspiring people, and so I wanted to inspire those to see beyond just the vintage shirts and to be bold and courageous enough to wear these sayings on their backs!