For Tatiana Figueiredo a career in entrepreneurship wasn’t the end goal. Figueiredo was building a career in product development across tech companies when she started an Instagram for fun. Her intention behind the Instagram page was to celebrate Frida and her contributions to her own Latinidad, over time the Instagram page has garnered thousands of followers and now serves as a marketplace for Frida-inspired artwork.
“I learned as a product manager that the most important skill is not knowing everything but knowing where to find the information you need and then learn it quickly,” shares Figueiredo. It’s a huge deal to just know that the answer is not necessarily to hire an expert but instead to spend a few days nerding out to learn something..
Her tech background and exposure to the startup world has helped her navigate an entirely different career than she expected. Her understanding of her parents’ expectations of her has also helped her make peace with the guilt that came with leaving her steady job.
“My parents sacrificed everything to move to this country for my sister and I. Then, when it feels like everything is going well with my career, I’m making good money, moving up fast, all of a sudden I declare that I’m going to quit and [to pursue a passion project because] “I’m not fulfilled in my current work”. That’s just not something my family will ever be able to relate to. What has helped me is to put all that first-generation guilty energy into doing my best making sure the things I’m building are successful. I owe them that.”
Below Figueiredo shares advice for Latinas who are teetering between a traditional job and wanting to pursue their own passions, what inspired her to focus on Frida, and how she balances consulting with building up the brand.
Vivian Nunez: What red flags would you encourage others to look for when it comes to career transitions?
Tatiana Figueiredo: I think the idea of “going all in” is romanticized too much. Whether you’re going into entrepreneurship or just want to transition to another job, do the work for the transition while you’re still grounded in a job – and a paycheck. From my experience this is better than just quitting and starting from scratch for a lot of reasons. First, you don’t want to put too much financial burden on your next opportunity from day one. If it’s something you’re doing on the side at first, you’ll have more time and energy to figure it out without money pressures. Also, creatively, you’ll have time to expand your focus and have fun if you think of it as just a side project. And most importantly, you might have a great idea but you might actually hate working on it. By doing it on the side for a while you’ll be able to tell if it’s something that gives you the kind of energy you’re looking for. Same when looking for a new job: talk to the people doing it, ask about their day-to-day, try to live a day in your new life and see if it’s what you really want.
Nunez: What inspired you to use Frida as the center for your new brand?
Figueiredo: I studied a little art history in high school and college and always thought Frida was the most unique artist we studied. In those classes, I think she was literally the only female artist we focused on. I was immediately drawn to her work and her life. I researched all I could about her, watched the documentaries, read her diary. While I was learning about Frida in Art History, I was also studying Latin American History and Spanish. It was through all these things that I began to connect my experience as an immigrant from Brazil to the broader experience of women in Latin America and Latinas in the US. Frida’s story and voice was always inspiring to me because of her mix of strength and vulnerability that was so familiar to me because I saw it in the women of my family.
But I didn’t intend to make her the center of a brand at first. I didn’t think I was even starting a brand. I started the Instagram as a side project while I was winding down a bigger work project. I had been saving images I saw on Instagram and figured I’d just post them kind of as a public art board. It was just for fun. After I started I realized the lack of women artists I saw in Art History years earlier was still a thing. Even on Instagram, the big art accounts post male artists 90% of the time. So I made it a rule that we would only post non-male artists. It was from there and through the Instagram account that I met a few women artists to partner with for a pop up shop and the brand grew from there.
Nunez: How has your Latinidad inspired your career?
Figueiredo: Where I’m from – and in many Latin American countries – entrepreneurship is not something cool that some people get to do, it’s how people survive. I come from a family where everyone runs a business. My parents always ran businesses, my aunts and uncles all had their hustles, it seemed like I was always around someone trying to create a new thing to make money. In Portuguese and Spanish there’s not even a cool word for it like “entrepreneurship.” As varied as it has become, my career still seems like an internet version of what my grandparents started (because they had to).
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