Cristina Escobar and Nicola Schulze Tell the Inspiring Story Behind LatinaMedia. Co

Photo courtesy of LatinaMedia.Co (Cristina Escobar, left – Nicola Schulze, right)
Photo courtesy of LatinaMedia.Co (Cristina Escobar, left – Nicola Schulze, right).

Ten years ago, the amount of Latine publications could be counted with the fingers of one hand. Fast forward to today, there’s a multitude of Latine-focused publications and online magazines with a similar goal: to empower our community.

Coming from a collective culture, supporting one another and rooting for each other’s success is the way to go. This is especially important since it’s been proven that Latine-owned enterprises or organizations aren’t approved for funding as much as, say, a white, cis-gendered male-led organization. But that’s beside the point here. What matters is the brilliance of our community and how intuitive it is when it comes to content creation. 

Let’s take a look at LatinaMedia.Co, for instance. 

The relatively young not-for-profit Latine publication has laid its foundation on giving our community the confidence and power to explore its analytical eye.

When we spoke to the founders of LatinaMedia.Co, Cristina Escobar and Nicola Schulze, they told us that the idea came from their own desire to see a platform allocated to high-level media critiques by our community. 

A Platform of One’s Own

Escobar had unknowingly worked toward building the skills that would be necessary to drive this venture forward. 

She recalls her love for writing from the time she was a little girl.

“I wanted to be a writer. I wrote little stories when I was a kid. And then as a teenager, I wrote really angsty poetry like everybody does,” she told BELatina.

Growing up in a feminist household, her parents were supportive of all her decisions. Even when she decided not to pursue writing since she felt her writing was never good enough —  a portrayal of imposter syndrome often suffered by many talented Latinas. 

Nevertheless, she pursued an English degree, which required her to write even more. Her writing flame continued to burn within her — even if she still didn’t believe in exploring it further after college. 

In fact, rather than going into writing, Escobar went into activism and has worked for various organizations pertaining to gender-based violence prevention, representation, and women’s rights. 

Her work actually led her to encourage others to find their voice — something she hadn’t put as a priority in her own life. That was, of course, until she met Schulze.

The ideal creative duo

As fate would have it, Schulze and Escobar met while working in a nonprofit that focused largely on gender and representation. 

“I feel like we learned a lot there. We got to do some really amazing campaigns,“ Escobar shared the beginning of their professional relationship and friendship.

This was also Schulze’s first nonprofit job out of college. 

“I fell in love with the work,” the LatinaMedia.Co’s co-founder said of the moments leading up to her current situation. “I was like, ‘this is what I’ve meant to do:’ media activism and having a voice to provide a different narrative to young women and girls that I never saw growing up.”

Unlike Escobar’s, Schulze’s upbringing did not include a lot of support for her creative eye. They preferred the more traditional and academic route. 

“When I was younger, I was just super into film, media, and TV. But my parents tried to stop me, and I would not let it happen,” she recalls. 

Yet, she still pursued a film minor in college, while she majored in International Relations. 

“As I was finding film, I found my love of politics, my love of just feeling the need to work not only on the cultural side but also with laws and legislation and the power that it has.”

Though she was impassioned with her career path, living in the Bay Area, where the job market is tech-heavy, pushed her to put her camera and other goals to the side as she joined the tech industry. 

“I started using writing, which I had never identified as a writer. I was always surrounded by other women who were just very talented writers. I have a friend group that coincidentally is a lot of writers. And I was like the visual one,” she told us.

But nothing deterred Schulze from media and television. Instead, it heightened her sense of purpose and her knack for storytelling. 

Like they say: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

She would watch telenovelas with her grandmother because she had cable. Her grandmother would become one of the greatest influences on her storytelling abilities — something that would later be useful for her own benefit in the future. 

“I think seeing and hearing those stories, then watching what was on TV – and kind of seeing that disconnect powered the love I had for storytelling. But I didn’t see my own stories reflected on television or in movies,” Schulze explained. 

“The stories that I grew up with became part of my identity, and I felt like there was only a film that could tell my story, that could tell the stories that are most central to myself or to see myself represented.”

LatinaMedia.Co is born

Both Escobar’s and Schulze’s experiences have complemented the creation of LatinaMedia.Co.

After Schulze helped Escobar find her courage to take the leap to trust her own voice, they started to realize how there needed to be a more inclusive space for media criticism. 

“We were doing media criticism work then. And that’s what I wanted to keep doing,” Escobar said. “There wasn’t a place for Latinos in particular. And there’s still none other than LatinaMedia.Co— there isn’t a place that’s just Latinas responding to media.”

Both creatives — who are of mixed Mexican descent — described the process of entering the editorial world.

They felt that their collective background in communications and marketing would be of service in their publication-building venture. 

“The experimental part was going to be the content creation. We were building it, figuring it out as we went,“ Escobar said.

Schulze also made it a point to ensure that their platform had an expansive definition of Latinidad, which included Black and Queer voices

“Both me and Nicola are of mixed Mexican descent from California’s West Coast, but that’s like a really specific experience, and it’s not all of it,” Escobar said of their background.

Their ultimate goal and desire were to create a space for the Latine community that wasn’t around when they were younger — a place where they could feel they belonged.

In order to lay the foundation for their vision, they were very intentional with the writers they brought on board. 

“We wanted writers to find a place that they belonged and specifically Latino/e, femme, and non-binary writers because those are the people I felt we needed a place in cultural criticism,” Schulze responded when asked why this was so important to them.  

“There’s no way we’re going to be able to see ourselves if we’re not able to critique the art that is supposedly being created for us.”

Rowing in pairs and navigating obstacles

As with anything, challenges have been part of Escobar and Schulze’s journey. It’s no secret that sustaining a Latine publication and getting funds is difficult. It takes longer to get approved for loans and larger brands to “believe” in the content you know it’s missing from the marketplace. 

Being a not-for-profit organization has come with its struggle for LatinaMedia.Co, but they’ve made sure to make it a point to pay all of their writers. No matter what happens. They are fiscally sponsored and depend on grant funding. 

“We were specific about not asking for free labor because we wanted Latino/es to be paid, so we pay all of our writers. But building that in a sustainable way in an industry that hasn’t figured it out yet is definitely a challenge,” Escobar said. 

“But we’ve been really lucky this year and last year to have had grant funding and be able to pay writers. It’s been really amazing to see that volume increase, but also more work. So, we’re kind of figuring it out,” she continued.

In order to further help the platform thrive, Escobar and Schulze share administrative tasks. 

Schulze does anything relating to visuals and creatives, while Escobar takes over the majority of the editing. However, they do switch between one another sometimes. They also divide their social media accounts where Escobar posts on Twitter and Nicola does their Instagram account. 

Time management is extremely important for this duo of creative businesswomen. Escobar, for example, has children. 

“I do stuff during nap time or after bedtime. You just kind of squeeze it in where you can,” she said of juggling motherhood and work.

“Yeah, I say it’s like day-by-day and depending on our schedules, because I think that’s the challenge: When you’re doing something like what we’re doing, structure is a luxury that we sometimes cannot afford.”

The secret? Having support

Their professional relationship and friendship have undoubtedly laid out their path to success. Escobar and Schulze have something many entrepreneurs, especially in our community, lack: genuine support. 

Escobar believes it makes a difference to have someone by your side when starting a venture like LatinaMedia.Co.

“Get an amiga; go forward together,” she suggested. 

“I think it’s lovely. I feel like there’s so much in our culture about the lone Wolf entrepreneur Exceller, like Elon Musk; these white men who make it by themselves and pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and how wonderful it is. We like to glamorize this whole individualistic process of succeeding,” Schulze added. 

“I think there’s nothing sweeter than really finding a person, a partner to share your dream with and not just that — to hold you accountable. And I think it’s a powerful way to counter mainstream culture and important for us to do that more.”

How can you join their mission? Well, go over to their page and browse through all the great content they have published. Or, if you are someone itching to get your voice out, pitch them. 

“I think one thing is, Cristina and I come from a place where we love writing, we love film and media, but our culture makes us afraid to put ourselves out there. And I would just say for the BELatina audience is to just try,” Schulze concluded.

“Give yourself permission to try because everyone has something that they’re passionate about.”