Alondra Carbajal, co-founder of Blank Tag Co.
Jessica Castro Photography, All rights Reserved
Alondra Carbajal and her fiancé, Remi Silva, were in Japan when the beginnings of a business idea were born.
“We were just wandering around [Japan], we came across some interesting stickers at Tokyu Hands in Shibuya,” explains Carbajal. “He was amazed by the stickers and kept talking about them and asking why isn’t there something like that in the U.S..”
A few more questions and initial iterations later, Carbajal and Silva launched Blank Tag Co, their own sticker business. Since its founding in 2017, the company has sold over 200,000 stickers and shipped to over 50 countries.
Alondra Carbajal and Remi Silva, co-founders of Blank Tag Co
Jessica Castro Photography, All rights Reserved
“Our goal is for Blank Tag Co to become the most recognizable sticker brand in the world,” states Carbajal. “There’s only 1 sticker company that comes to mind in the U.S., but their focus is on children’s stickers, while ours is to create stickers for everyone.”
For Carbajal the decision to pursue a small business, alongside her full-time job, is rooted in her own Latinx upbringing and the work ethic her parents instilled in her.
“As a Latina, I feel my life experience has had a huge impact on my career,” shares Carbajal. “I grew up selling at the swap meet with my parents. I knew early on that it’s not something I wanted to do as a career. My parents made it very clear that my way out was through education. Their focus on my schooling is what allowed me to attend USC, which is ultimately what led me to my career.”
Below Carbajal shares more context on how they’ve grown Blank Tag Co, what it’s like working with a partner, and the advice she would give to other Latinxs who want to start a business.
Be resourceful in your promotion
Much of Blank Tag Co’s success is rooted in their organic and innovative approaches to promoting the brand.
When the first iteration of stickers were released, Carbajal explains that they tried sponsored posts as a way to target their ideal customer. After the second iteration of stickers launched they perfected the strategy and found an audience for the stickers.
“We tried these images and worked with a few Latino-meme focused Instagram pages,” explains Carabajal. “Once they posted an image of the stickers, we started selling immediately.”
Audit what skillsets make the most sense for your full-time job versus your side hustle
“I’ve learned that some skills that are indispensable in my full time job may hold me back with Blank Tag Co,” explains Carbajal. “I am very risk averse, which is a great quality to have in HR, but that doesn’t always translate well into my Blank Tag Co role. Part of business requires taking risks and trying new things. I’ve had to learn to code switch in a way when working in both roles. It’s definitely made me more of a well-rounded person, but has resulted in some anxiety-inducing situations for me in Blank Tag Co. I’ve had to learn to be open to trying new things and not have everything be perfect or planned out. It’s a new normal that I’ve learned to live in.”
Setting ground rules for a business partnership is key
As business partners, Carbajal and Silva have learned about the importance of boundaries and making sure that they’re both communicating and on the same page.
“We understood early on in working together that we each had very different strengths and very different means to achieving our goals, but we also worked well together as long as we listened to each other and gave each other space to try things out within the business,” explains Carbajal. “Even now, we still have differences in what the goal is for Blank Tag Co., but we trust each other to make decisions that are the best for both the business and our relationship. While running a business together was never something we planned, we’ve managed to do it while maintaining a healthy relationship.”
Stick to your own vision for your career
At different points in your career it may feel like there are multiple paths you’re supposed to be following, but only one that you actually want to follow. Carbajal suggests making sure that you’re aligned with your own personal mission and staying true to yourself.
“My advice would be to focus on what feels right to you, and not what you think a business owner should do [or be],” shares Carbajal. “For a long time, I wanted nothing to do with owning a business because I always thought it meant I would have to leave my career. I love my career and didn’t want to have to give it up. It wasn’t until we started Blank Tag Co that I realized that being a business owner didn’t mean I could only be a business owner.”
“Owning your business gives you more choices, but it’s perfectly fine to choose to keep your full-time job. For someone looking to start their own business, it’s important for them to find a balance that makes them happy. That can mean going all-in and quitting their job, or keeping their job until they feel comfortable, or never quitting at all. It is completely their choice and they should choose what’s best for them.”