Fashion Designer – Hola Chola Pop-up Shop

FullSizeRender (1)“It goes to show that if you really believe in something go for it,” said Susanna Gonzalez.

Fashion Designer and owner of Hola Chola Brand, Susanna Gonzalez has proven to be a fearless self-starter entrepreneur. This past weekend I attended the Hola Chola pop-up shop inside the National Museum of Mexican Art located in the Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago. Susanna shared her story and how she became an independent artist.

Growing up in New York she felt sheltered at home because she was unable to explore. She felt drained at the everyday routine and rituals. Her family was accustomed and set in their ways but Susanna felt an urgency of wanting more.

“At 23 years old I made a bold decision to relocate to Los Angeles but, as time went by I felt like I was losing touch with my roots and religion back home. I forgot who I was because I was away from home so I decided to take a journey to Jalisco, Mexico,” she said.FullSizeRender_3

During her time there she celebrated one of Mexico’s colorful and patriotic festivals in September known as their Independence Day,  El Mes De La Patria (month of the homeland). She explained how her adventure in Mexico was a life changing experience because she felt the unity of the people and how it brought the Latino community together.

“They barely had anything but people were happy and I was drawn to the churches and religion,” she said.

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Her time spent in Mexico inspired her from religion to the arts. One thing that stuck with Susanna was “La Reina.”  She explained how ever since her journey she kept seeing La Reina appear and would pray.

“Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico, where she is known as La Reina de Mexico and is very much a cultural icon,” Mamiverse.com.

After her stay in Mexico Susanna decided to go back home to live in New York but while there she felt a sense of sadness.   FullSizeRender_12

“I felt uncomfortable knowing people in my hometown/background in Mexico were poor and had nothing,” she said.

She wanted to artistically bring to the life the culture and what she saw in Mexico but knew she would be held back from her full potential in New York because of her parents. She continued to pray to La Reina for guidance until one day she received a phone call for a job opportunity in Los Angeles and relocated once again. Although, she was working in L.A. she had an idea to work on her own brand and that’s when Hola Chola came to mind. Soon she found herself on her spare time working on her brand and was determined. As time went by she became passionate and diligent on the attire she made. Through the process of being away from home, working and starting her brand she was alone but never gave up.

“My family didn’t believe I could do it but here I am today and I just recently quit my job in November,” she said.

Her personality and smile gave an uplifting vibrant vibe. The ambiance in the room was electric and there was a variety of merchandise from hats, clothes to even suitcases.  Inside the main gallery room there were nail technicians from Hush Nail Salon in Chicago, Hennessy V•S complimentary mixed drinks and a DJ on stage. The event had people from all backgrounds and each person’s style conveyed uniqueness from edgy, spunk, eccentric and overall creative. Being that it was her first time in Chicago she proved that no matter where she goes she can conquer any obstacle’s and draws an audience with her brand and style.

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A special thanks to Cold Chillen Ent. for joining forces with Susanna Gonzalez to put the event together to Hush Nail Salon for coming out and doing some fabulous manicures  to Hennessy VS for the complimentary mixed drinks and to the DJ for playing some great music and engaging the crowd.

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Cold Chillen Event Mngmt. Team

Instagram: @Holacholainc , @Ssuperior , @Pherolive , @djkingmarie , @hushsalonchicago

Twitter: @HolaCholaInc

WWW.HolaChola.Com

Cold Chillen Event Management Coldchillen.com

Hush Nail Salon www.salonhush.com

#HolaChola #HennessyV•S #ColdChillen #HushNailSalon

 

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Recap of the 16th Annual Chicago International Salsa Congress

This year marked the 16th annual Chicago International Salsa Congress, (CISC). The four-day event took place on Thursday February 9 to Sunday February 12 at the O’Hare Regecy Hyatt. The Salsa Congress is an event where different dancers from all around the world meet to share the same love and passion of dance. The event was full of non-stop excitement and features dance workshops, performances, competitions, vendors and social dancing to the live band and DJ.

Due to the many workshops available during the day I was able to go to a few even though I wish to have done them ALL! My first workshop was Vogue with Instructor Carlos 007 of Latin Rage Dance Company in Los Angeles. The class taught me how to incorporate voguing with salsa moves. Just like Salsa, Carlos explained the importance of moving your body and telling a story through vouging.  

“Using pain to create the creativity and to create masterpieces,” said Carlos 007. 

Another workshop that I took was Ladies Styling with Blanca Aviles of Latin Rhythms in Chicago. She taught the class how to style your hands, arms, and legs while dancing Salsa. The fluidity of each body gesture is what makes any dance unique. Another important tip I took away from the class is that each movement should come natural when dancing.

“Take the stuff that feels organic to your body,” said Blanca. 

A few other workshops that I did was Partner-work on 2 intermediate/advanced with Tamara Livolsi and Tito Ortos and Salsa Turn Patterns on 2 beginner/intermediate with Ernesto and Maritza. Both classes involved practicing with a partner and most importantly having the patience to get the steps right. 

“Keep training and discipline whatever you can grab your hands onto,” said Tamara.

Each workshop was tailored to what the instructor teaches and a great way to learn the many different dance styles. Although, some classes were more challenging than others it still gave people an opportuity to step out their comfort zone and learn.

“Never stop learning and have fun,” said Maritza. 

And that is exactly what each performance exuded from the afternoon and evening showcases. From the costumes to their facial expression each dance group and or solo dancers gave their all and showed. This year in particular was extra special and emotional for some of the performers because it was their last debut. Ericka Crespo who dances with Urban Vibe Dance Company in Chicago performed her last mambo routine. The group danced to Celia Cruz’s “Caramelo,” and you felt the love and passion that was put into the choreography. 

“This was an emotional and bittersweet performance overall. I’m grateful to have been part of the dance world in general and to have a oppportunity to show others the art of dance,” said Ericka.

Another dance company who closed the 16th annual CISC on Sunday night was Gifted Souls who also came to an end as they debuted their “Last Roar,” a Lion King inspired choreography. Director Rocky Quinones of Gifted Souls moves on to become a new father and at the end of their performance a machine exploded with pink and white confetti to reveal the gender of his baby to be, a girl. There was a total of 56 dancers who performed the “Last Roar” the majority being from Gifted Souls and some from other dance companies who auditioned. Overall, the performance was breathtaking and unforgettable. 

At the end of every performance each night the Grand Ballroom was cleared in order to have an open space to dance, hence the term “Social Dancing.” Some of the live bands/artists who closed the night were Jimmy Bosh and the All Star Orchestra featuring Yoko, Herman Olivera and Nelson Gonzalez on Tres, La Japonesa Salsera and all the way from Spain Tromboranga Salsa Orchestra.  

This year’s Salsa Congress was another success! And I hope to see you at next year’s CISC, until then DANCE!

http://chicagosalsacongress.com/Wordpress/

Video Credit to Media Team and Edited by Mabbo

 

Canadian Rapper/R&B Artist on the Move

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Outside of music Dwayne “Salez” Lespoir is a local promoter in his city which started off as a way to showcase his talent. However, it became bigger than that and he soon found himself bringing in well-known artists. “No one wanted to give me that chance so I had to do it myself,” said Salez

Born and raised in Montreal, Canada the 28 year-old rapper/singer of Guyanese descent has written and produced his music. He also takes the time to write music for up and coming artists. In 2010 his mixtape “Hard Work Pays Off,” and his single, “Headlock,”  was highly acclaimed and received a great deal of attention. But his hard work doesn’t stop there, Salez recently shot a music video in Jamaica named, “Live Like This,” and is anticipated to make its debut very soon.

Salez continues to write music and feels it is about expressing yourself. “If I hear a hip-hop, jazz or pop beat and it takes me to someplace I write to it. To me music is not about having a lane but it’s more about being able to connect with different people all around the world,” he said.

He describes his music as a way to give a vivid picture of himself, his life and struggles he’s encountered. Although Salez has set some ways for himself it was not always easy and hit a few bumps down the road. He has encountered closed doors, other artists not wanting to collaborate with him, DJ’s who refused to play his songs and “friends” who were not a support system. Through it all he continues to overcome obstacles and works for what he loves. “I’ll prove everyone wrong because being the underdog was something I always loved. So I never let it phase me or discourage me cause I know my time is moments away,” he said. img_9373

Some of Salez inspirations growing up were Biggie Smalls and Fabolous. Other influences include Chris Brown, Eric Bellinger and Jeremih and noted he is a big R&B lover. If he had the chance to collaborate with a known artist or producer he admits it would be Fabolous because of the status he has maintained for years and managed to stay relevant year after year.

When I asked Salez where does he see himself in 5 years and hopes to accomplish he said, “I definitely see myself writing hits for more famous celebrities. Headlining my own show and to have a song on the top 10 Billboard Charts.

You can listen to Salez music and follow him at:

http://www.salez.ca , www.instagram.com/salez514 , www.snapchat.com/salez514 , www.YOUTUBE.COM/SALEZ514 , www.FACEBOOK.COM.Salez514 , WWW.Twitter.com/salez514 , www.soundcloud.com/SALEZMTL

Chicago Salsa Congress – Press Party

 

What better way to bring in the 16th annual Chicago International Salsa Congress then by hosting a press party just 9 days before with a few sneak peek performances.

On Tuesday January 30 I had the pleasure to attend the press party held at Chicago’s Block 37 inside of the restaurant Latinicity. The evening consisted of music, performances, socializing, appetizers and drinks.

So what exactly is the Chicago International Salsa Congress (CICS)?

The founders Rosita and Saladeen Alamin of Cultural Expressions Productions and the Chicago Intercultural Alliance created a multicultural community through Afro-Latin music and dance. In 2002, both Rosita and Saladeen formed the first CISC.

The goal was not just about having music or dancing but to empower personal awareness, creativity, passion, leadership and inspire. The CISC gives an opportunity for up and coming artists to perform alongside some of the most elite and well-known artists. The event also showcases dance companies from Chicago, other states/city’s and even different countries.

As stated in the Chicago Salsa Congress website their mission is to:

“unite cultures and generation, engender leadership through empowerment opportunities in its showcase and to keep alive the history of the many cultures collaboration in the creation and evolution of Latin and Afro-Caribbean music and dance.”

On February 9 – 12, 2017 the CISC will take place at the O’Hare Hyatt Regency. The non-stop entertainment event will have dance workshops throughout the day and it will include different levels of dancing from Salsa, Bachata, Jazz, Hip-Hop and more. The night performances begin at 7:00p.m. inside of the main ballroom where the different dance companies and solo performers will showcase their finest choreographies followed by a live band for social dancing until 3:00a.m.  Outside of the main ballroom there will be a DJ playing music and vendors.

This is definitely an event you don’t want to miss!

For more information you can visit their website at Chicagosalsacongress.com and purchase your tickets today!

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J.Cole with the TAKEOVER

 

 

If you haven’t heard yet J.Cole is set to release his new album titled, “4 Your Eyez Only,” on December 9. He also provided a 40 minute documentary titled, “Eyez,” which previewed some of his new music from his album. One song in particular has everyone talking. The music video, “False Prophets,” is giving people the impression that he is referring to Kanye West and his mental break down.  In one part of the song he says…

Ego in charge of every move, he’s a start

And we can’t look away due to the days that he

caught our hearts

He’s falling apart, but we deny it

Justifying that half ass shit he dropped, we always

buy it.

When he tells us he a genius but it’s clearer lately

It’s been hard for him to look into the mirror lately

There was a time when this nigga was my here,

maybe

That’s the reason why his fall from grace is hard to take.

The Dreamville leader always produces strong poetic lyrics and it is no wonder why his fans are raving about his new project.  I’m a fan myself and after seeing him perform at Lollapalooza this past summer I definitely can’t wait to get my hands on his new album this Friday because it, “BE LIKE THIS.

Last night I had the pleasure to support Ms. Erin Leary the owner of BeBuddhaJewelry on her blog launch. The launch party was at Maybe Sunday Collective a small boutique located in the Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago. Inside the boutique there were tables which displayed the many different handmade BeBuddha accessories from earrings, necklaces, bracelets to rings and shirts. A photo booth was also in the mix and necklaces were the props. Ms. Leary also made key-chains for those who attended. When I asked Ms. Leary how she felt about her event she said, “excited and nervous.” Outer piece for Inner Peace is her motto. Ms. Leary has made her passion her business. The pieces of jewelry are bright and bold or soft and subtle and you can’t go wrong with either one.

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You can check out and purchase BeBuddha Jewelry  at: BeBuddhaJewelry.com  and make sure to follow her on Instagram @BeBuddhaJewelry

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Ms. Erin Leary rocking her handmade tassel earrings 

La Verdad Podcast

“Quien dijo miedo,” meaning “who said fear,” is a quote that Christian Alequin’s grandmother used to tell him and is now his advice to anyone that is trying to pursue their dreams and goals.

Christian Alequin and his friend Carlos Martinez launched La Verdad’s podcast and blog in 2016 where they began documenting and telling stories from the point of img_6225view of two Urban Latinos. However, the journey began before that in 2015 when they started creating apparel designs. As time went by their customer base grew as well.

The idea of having apparel was driven by 2 single fathers Christian and Claudio who is no longer working with them. “We also had an idea to help out other single fathers and show them personal development through workshops,” said Alequin.

Soon after Carlos joined the group, their apparel line evolved and they began selling shirts that said “Cultivo” meaning “Cultivation,” onto their website Laverdadltd.com

As Claudio left the group to do his own thing Christian and Carlos revamped La Verdad into a podcast and began selling more apparel onto their site. As their site says, “La Verdad is focused on being true to our roots through originality.” 

Their 6 fundamentals are:

  1. Culture
  2. Tradition
  3. Art
  4. Community
  5. Inspiration
  6. Scholarship

La Verdad recently grew from 2 to 4 when Vanessa Figueroa, also known as Vfig, and Natalie Reyes, known as Nati, joined the podcast. The ladies give their perspective from a woman’s point of view. 

The group is mobile therefore, they do not have a set location. Carlos lives in Michigan and takes the time to drive out to Chicago to do their podcast recordings and Christian will also drive to Michigan so that the two can take turns traveling. The two have become dedicated to their work and keeping their fan base up to date with new shows. At one point during the summer the team went on a hiatus due to their lives and careers outside of the podcast. During that time their fan base would ask where is their show and what has happened. The amount of people who showed their interest in the podcast has given the group inspiration to continue on with their podcast/blog. 

Although the group has relied on viral marketing which has been working well for them, they have also thought about doing a street team and passing out flyers about La Verdad. Another idea that they had was to have a family podcast.

La Verdad has had a few special guests from Abel Muhammad a Student Minister who is devoted to helping out communities of color. Also, Adriana Almanza who you might remember, posted an “open letter” to Facebook as a response to what Donald Trump said about undocumented immigrants. These are just some of the podcast’s special guest to name a few. The group continues to reach out to individuals as a way to not only help their podcast grow but to also give their audience something new each time.

“Align yourself with positive people and go for it but have a plan,” said Carlos. 

 

By: Lucia A. Crespo

You can listen to new shows on LaVerdadltd.com and make sure to subscribe to their website. 

  • As well as follow them on the social media outlets listed below.
  • Facebook – La Verdad Ltd 
  • Instagram @Laverdadltd 
  • Twitter @Laverdadltd img_6258
  • From left to right: Carlos, Me (Lulu), Vanessa, Natalie, Christian.

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