By Alyssa Ruiz
Three years ago, two girls decided to sit next to each other on a school bus. Unbeknownst to them, Jolene Rios and Ylian Cota were destined to co-found their own fashion business together.
During their senior year at Corona del Sol, both girls decided to take a fashion elective on a whim. Together they excelled in fashion class and the opportunities provided by the Style Club which is sponsored by the Fashion Industry of Design and Merchandising school in Los Angeles.
Their high school fashion teacher and former club advisor, Margaret Lamb said the main goal of the class was to serve others and learn work-based skills for life.
“Students received great strategies for future success from presenters from the following organizations: Art Institute, Toni & Guy Academy, representatives and graduates from FIDM and Wells Fargo,” Lamb said. “Some of the topics covered included college, career preparation, financial fitness, service learning projects and health and wellness.”
Now a business retail management sophomore at a Maricopa County Community College, Jolene Rios said that with that help, over-preparation and motivation was never an issue when deciding to co-start the company Like That Apparel.
“Growing up, I would see how my mom was always dressing up,” Rios said. “When I was just a little girl going to elementary school, she would always tell me that presentation is everything. Not just the way you look, but the way you treat others and your attitude.”
For co-founder Ylian Cota, she said her dream of being involved in fashion also stemmed from her personal childhood.
“My abuelita taught me how to sew at a very young age, I loved seeing her create something out of basically nothing,” Cota said. “It wasn’t only until last year where I felt inspired to share the stuff I was creating, and it became more fun because I’m doing it with my best friend.”
Like That Apparel was under production and marketing since December of last year and started producing their products four months later. Their products are currently available via inquiry through their Instagram account, but they said they are working on creating a website to streamline selling.
The women’s marketing strategy was building social media presence prior to the launch.
“We have our company and we use YouTube as our branding,” Cota said. “We kind of want to create a feeling like the people that shop our products get to know us with our videos, like inviting people into a little bit of our lives, I think it creates a feel like shopping with a friend.”
“I think one of the hardest parts would be finding your audience and growing your company,” Rios said. Though they said the process took a while to come together, Rios reflected on the best part of being a co-store owner is being as freedom of creativity and working with her best friend.
“We aren’t afraid to push each other to be our best selves. We can always count on each other to motivate the other if we feel like we’re not trying our hardest.” Rios said.
At the moment, Like That Apparel is solely a jewelry company but Rios and Cota said they have plans to collaborate with artists for a graphic t-shirt line and to launch a full clothing line by the beginning of 2018 with a store in mind for the future.
Photos courtesy of Like That Apparel.