JCPenney’s Hope & Wonder Hispanic Heritage Month Collection kicked off with a very special event in Austin, Texas. For plenty of brands, Hispanic Heritage Month isn’t really something they advocate for or put much of an emphasis on. However, JCPenney put together a special assortment, showcasing how much they value their Hispanic consumers. The entire Hope & Wonder Hispanic Heritage Month campaign is a collaboration with us, Latinitas, and we will be receiving 100% of the net profits from all Hope & Wonder Hispanic Heritage Month Collection sales!
This is a huge honor, and the launch event was a great way for JCPenney and Latinitas to join together and create new ways of empowering the girls we serve.
Before the event started I was able to speak to Lilliana Cortez, the Chief Programs Officer for Latinitas, about why JCPenney chose us to partner up with, “JCPenney wants to be part of the story,” She explained, “They’ve mentioned that they picked Latinitas because they were looking at nonprofits that were nationwide, and they thought, ‘well, do we want to support a nonprofit that is already big? Already having a great impact? Or do we want to support a nonprofit that is doing really great work, and having a great impact, but still has all this potential to grow?’ And that’s why they decided to pick Latinitas.”
Reminiscing on Latinitas’ Purple Party Celebration, Pamela Velez, Senior Designer of the collection, gave remarks on why JCPenney chose to partner with Latinitas:
“This limited-edition collection celebrates special cultural moments throughout the year as part of a multi-faceted campaign that empowers our associates and leverages JCPenney’s national platform to raise awareness, celebrate diversity and uplift our communities.” She continues, “We think of these collections as authentic expressions of distinctive cultures designed by members of these cultural groups that offer all of us opportunities to celebrate in unique ways throughout the year. And…it’s personal for me because I’m one of the design teams (sic) behind the collection! This is a really important part of our work at JCPenney, that we have a special team of designers, the Creative Coalition, that bring their cultural perspectives to all the work we do for our diverse customers around the country.”
The event kicked off at 10 AM, as Latinitas and JCPenney staff greeted a group of chicas and their parents as they made their way into the JCPenney in Round Rock, which they had all to themselves. Once inside the girls were gifted large goodie bags courtesy of Juicy Couture with a teddy bear and Salon and Beauty samples. Then each girl received atrademark “Unidos Somos Mas” T-shirt from JCPenney’s Hope & Wonder Hispanic Heritage Month Collection. Following the gift-giving, JCPenney staff directed in both English and Spanish for everyone to meet around an installation of the Hispanic Heritage Month Collection. Once there, Senior Designer Velez, gave a lovely speech on the importance of representation, and why JCPenney went with each particular design. The collection has the classic “Unidos Somos Mas” shirt, as well as a simple “LatinX + Proud” shirt, and the “Los Latinos Come In All Sabores Y Colores” shirt. Toward the end of the speech, Velez announced JCPenney would be continuing their partnership with Latinitas, and are already working on designs for next year’s HHM Collection which have been inspired by conversations with the chicas about their interests and points of view.
We were able to speak to Velez and the rest of the design team about how surreal it was to finally see this collection come to life, “We work on a very long timeline trying to figure out exactly what we want to do, and the message that we want to convey. So, when you finally get to see it come to life it’s always gratifying. It always feels so good when you finally get to say ‘okay, all that hard work it did meant something.” Fellow designer Kristen Rademacher added, “To see the customer actually really like it and enjoy it and connect with it–that is the ultimate. That’s the point. to make the customer happy and feel included.”
After Velez’s explanation of the collection, JCPenney gave each girl a $50 gift card to go shopping while the store was still closed to the public. There were nail and hair stations, where the girls could get all gussied up for free, as well as a snack stand. The chicas ran around in a frenzy trying to see what they wanted to spend their money on the most. I caught up with one of the chicas, Anna Victoria, 14, at a clothing rack to ask what her favorite part of the day had been. “My favorite thing so far is seeing the collection that the Latina designers created just so we can be more represented in society and out there in the world.” She was looking forward to spending her gift card on, “buying sports things for tennis.” Anna Victoria’s friend Jadey, 15, who stood right next to her, had noticeably impressive silver eyeliner and was ready to spend her gift card on even more makeup. 11-year-old Samantha’s absolute favorite part of the day was, “getting (her) nails done.”
All in all, the chicas seemed to have an amazing time. They received plenty of lovely and memorable gifts and got to see an exclusive first look at not only the Hope & Wonder Hispanic Heritage Month Collection, as well as a peek behind the scenes of the people who helped create it.
Velez has previously stated, “As we know, however, you cannot celebrate Hispanic Heritage in just one month, and likewise, our collaboration with Latinitas is taking on a life of its own. You just can’t contain the enthusiasm we at JCPenney have for this wonderful organization and it’s become contagious.”
Through this collection and JCPenney’s partnership with Latinitas, the Hispanic community knows they belong.