Understanding your audience is a crucial part of building any brand, especially with the Latinx community. If a company wants to effectively communicate with a diverse customer base, they need to not only be able to relate to those populations but also engage those populations in a meaningful way.
However, when it comes to engaging the Latinx community, companies often struggle to connect. Enter The Bonita Project — a Latina-owned and operated PR company born out of a need to “break the barrier between general and multicultural markets to reach women of all backgrounds.”
Danielle Alvarez, the founder of The Bonita Project, is on a mission to change the way brands tap into this diverse customer base and disrupt the conversation around marketing to Latinas.
As a Peruvian-American, Alvarez never felt that she saw herself represented when people pursued multicultural marketing. As a Latina entrepreneur, she’s on a mission to ensure that Hispanics are not generalized or grouped into one bubble but rather celebrated for their unique identities and cultural traditions.
After many years of experience working for a big PR firm in New York City, Alvarez became the “multicultural PR whisperer,” she said. She knew how important it was to speak to Hispanic cultures, and she knew first-hand that not all Hispanic cultures can be grouped into one bucket.
“I learned to love multicultural PR — and the challenges it brought — educating the masses on what it was to be Hispanic/Latina/Latinx,” she told Pop Sugar.
And so, The Bonita Project was born.
Even the name of her agency speaks volumes about its mission, its core values, and the way it speaks to its audience. Her company is not named after Danielle because the brand is not only about her; it’s about empowering Latinas and women of color around the world.
Danielle knew she needed a name that would resonate not only with Latinas but also non-Hispanics.
The Bonita Project aims to bridge the gap between general and multicultural markets so that brands can reach not only one segment of women but all women. Danielle’s mission has always been to change how fashion and beauty brands speak to the Latinx community in an inclusive way and help brands tap into a diverse customer base.
To do this, The Bonita Project helps develop and implement strategic press and influencer outreach to elevate up-and-coming brands and help them engage with multicultural populations. And everything The Bonita Project does is with the overarching intention of education and shining a light on brown and black communities.
We chatted with Danielle about starting her own business, the complexities of engaging with multicultural communities, the most useful advice she received as a Latina entrepreneur, and what’s next for The Bonita Project.
What first inspired you to start your own business?
I remember meeting with an industry friend who later became my mentor and told me that I could run my own business someday. She hyped me up enough to plant the seed in my head – and that was in 2016. I slowly started working towards the “business,” not knowing where it would take me, while I worked at my full-time job. I continued to grow my network, attend industry events, even take solo work trips (out of my own pocket) to simply network and explore different PR avenues. And then what really did it for me was when I visited Medellin, Colombia, in 2017 when I attended Colombia Moda (Colombia’s #1 Fashion Week Show). I saw so much new talent and potential brands to work with. It ignited this desire to want to work with Latinx fashion/beauty brands.
What are your goals for The Bonita Project? How did your experience in the PR industry influence your business plan?
The first half of my PR experience was negative and positive. The positive was that I got to work with some of the biggest beauty brands; I traveled, I got to plan the coolest events, and meet the coolest people. But what slowly turned me off was their lack of intention for our community. It sometimes felt like they were checking off a box – it always felt like a one-size-fits-all approach. And it would either be one big event for the year or a one-off campaign. The consistency wasn’t there. It was frustrating, to say the least. And my specific role was to pitch creative ideas, explain why they made sense for both the brand and the Latinx community. Many times these ideas were overlooked, or there wasn’t enough budget. It got to the point where I was just tired, and for every other company I looked into applying to, I would meet with a Latinx employee that had similar experiences, if not worse. This is why I decided to take the matter into my own hands and launch an agency that did things the nontraditional way. Because why not?
My goal with The Bonita Project since Day 1 was to work with brands that carried intention and were passionate about marketing to the Latinx community. I also knew I wanted to build a community on social media, and that’s how the Instagram platform came about. I saw there was an opportunity to build a platform where I could highlight how diverse the Latinx community is and have the bigger brands take notice. And it has worked! A lot of the business I receive today is thanks to the Instagram page. I use the platform to educate, inspire, and take action to support the Latinx community.
Tell us about any obstacles you faced (and continue to face) as a Latina business owner.
As a Latina business owner, the biggest obstacle I face is equal pay. Earlier this year, I learned that many Latina publicists don’t get paid nearly the same as their white colleagues. I continue to get approached by brands that either undervalue our work or simply don’t understand how expensive PR really is. It’s challenging. And while I love to work with smaller brands, sometimes their budget is not adequate for PR yet. I always advise small brands that PR is not crucial in the beginning. If you don’t have the funding – don’t stress it! Invest your money on product development, your marketing channels, or social platforms. PR can come after.
What is the best advice you ever received that helped you navigate your entrepreneurial journey?
The best advice I’ve received is never to underestimate your worth and creativity. As crazy as an idea may sound, if you’re passionate about it, people will follow, whether it’s 50 people, 100 people, or 1,000 people. I’m in the creative side of the business, and some of the ideas I’ve put together — whether it’s with clients or for our Bonita social pages — for others may seem too risky or too complex, but so far, they have worked and have been well received. No idea is crazy. Shoot your shot. Give it a try. You’d be surprised whose attention you’ll grab!
What’s next for The Bonita Project?
Growth! I have faith my baby business will continue to grow. Right now, I am in the middle of expanding my team and bringing on new team members. For the first time this year, I brought on two new full-time contractors, which is a big deal for me and a big spend (but worth every penny). I realized I needed to scale up my business, and it’s time for me to do the bigger stuff (which is seeking new business) while I can have a team that can handle the clients/admin work. I still wear all the hats, but I am finally at a stage where I can delegate and handoff other tasks to my Bonita employees. I am also eager to continue growing our social presence outside of Instagram — more content to come on TikTok and YouTube! I launched a Bonita Travel Diaries series earlier this year, with our first episode in Santo Domingo, DR. Now, I am just looking to build on that and share more episodes across the U.S. (and internationally), highlighting the Latinx experience across the diaspora.