Little Luxuries Interview with Natalie @Alltrue
A Conversation with lujo bar Founder Ivonne Padilla
Interview by Natalie Westerholt Photography by Rowan Metzner
In 2018, Ivonne Padilla set out to merge her creativity, Latina heritage, and love of showers to develop a line of plant-based products that engage the senses and elevate the spirit.
lujo bar is an impactful culmination of all of these things - a labor or love, meant to spread love to everyone who experiences her brand: from the suppliers, to her employees, to her customers. We sat down with Ivonne to learn more about her start-up journey.
ALLTRUE What led you not only to handcrafted soaps, but the creation of your own clean cosmetics brand?
PADILLA I grew up dreaming of being a professional musician, which I pursued most of my life. Initially, the idea of handcrafted shower and bath products came to me because I was a crossroads in my life. Things were changing for me on multiple fronts and I had to think of another route in my career and professional path. Looking back, I can see how all of my experiences have prepared me to be an entrepreneur.
ALLTRUE How so?
PADILLA From preparing for performances to the business of managing a band, to running a program for young people to tap their potential, to managing social media communications at a national membership association - all of these experiences led me to lujo bar. My curiosity and creative thinking have set me up for an untraditional work setting.
ALLTRUE You have Latin roots, but were born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. Have you seen these cultural influences merge in creating the lujo line?
PADILLA So much of what we're creating at lujo bar intersects with who I am as a person - in fact, the business was started to support my tribe. As a brand, we hope to normalize self care in communities of color. Self care is not a privilege, it is a priority, and showering is the ultimate act of self-care. It is something you do every day that makes you feel better.
ALLTRUE This year has been exceptionally difficult for small businesses. What kind of changes or opportunities did you observe and how were you able to adapt or continue growing your brand?
PADILLA I'm a pioneer who is trying to build a start-up in an untraditional business - I am also a women and a Latina. It's hard work. The biggest challenge I face is access - access to capital, access to knowledge, and access to successful people in my industry. It's been challenging to identify the people in my local communication who understand the work that I want to do, despite the opportunity in the market. I've overcoming the challenges by continuing. It's about being patient and persistent. I firmly believe that everything will match up, in time. You just keep going.
ALLTRUE What is your long term vision for lujo bar?
PADILLA Our long term vision is to establish ourselves as your shower steamer connection. Once that band is established, our goal is to share creative collections - from lip balms, body bars and more. Showering the world with love, at scale, means bringing this model to different cities - and using the success of the company to impact lives in communities of color around the world.
ALLTRUE And finally, can you share the meaning of your name: lujo bar?
PADILLA lujo ("lu-ho") means luxury in Spanish and bar is meant to convey that your bar needs to be stocked with little luxuries like the ones we make. We're living in a time when we need to be more gentle with ourselves, each other and our earth. I'm proud that we're doing our part.