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Mismatched Magic: Embracing Your DIGüey Aesthetic without Fear
Plus more lessons from DIGüey University
In the first part of this interview, we gave a preview of DIGüey University and learned the first lesson. Read that here:
The lesson: Do not wait for that special occasion to set up your table.
There was also a note about how Luis’s father is learning that taking risks is beginning to pay off, and how he’s on his own healing journey. Tuck that note somewhere safe for later.
Let’s jump into Profesor Octavio’s Lesson 2 at DIGüey University.
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DIGuey University: Ugh Matchy-Matchy
Ready for your next lesson from DIGuey University? There are a couple throughout this portion of the conversation. See if you can spot them all.
Paulette: You know what I love about our culture [Editor’s note: we’re both Mexican] especially, but Latinidad that in general, we are not afraid of color. And this is another way that you break free of those restrictions. The Pinterest restrictions, that's what I'm gonna call 'em. So we all know what I mean. That is very “clean.”
Clean lines just means devoid of color.
Luis: Absolutely. And you know what? I have a theory about that because I think when we go to Latin America, we see all this color. And then we get to the United States, and unfortunately we do lose color and we do lose interest in color because many of us rent.
And many of us think, I'm gonna get that deposit back. The fact of the matter is that you don't! As much as you clean those walls, as much as you keep them white, as much as you don't hang anything from those walls, you're not gonna get your full deposit.1 And so for that reason, whenever I've rented, I've always seen that deposit as gone.
Paulette: That's the cost.
Luis: That's the cost of me coming home to my home, not someone's home I'm renting. And, every single time that my partner and I have rented a home, we've painted, we've added color, we've added texture. And believe me you, I wanna say that maybe three outta five have said, "this is beautiful. We're keeping it this way."
So I would say add color. You can always paint it white to try to get that deposit back.
Paulette: I've always been afraid to paint walls. Right up to your point because I don't have your eye. I used to be a photographer. I can put pretty pictures on the wall. But you have a different type of creativity that I would love to learn, to encompass.
But back to what you were saying, I think that if you go into it just expecting that the deposit is the cost of being able to beautify your home the way that you feel comfortable in, ¿y que?
Luis: It's worth it. It's worth it. It's worth getting half of it or not getting it as long as you are coming home to your sacred space. Because every time I come home and I come to my painted walls or my yellow kitchen, it just feels great.
And it even feels better when people are coming and visiting and they're like, “güey this looks beautiful.” Or “wow, I would've never thought of using this color.”
Paulette: Yeah. I will say that I've always had colorful furniture. We went from a bright red couch set. We have a bright gold set now and lots of pillows and rich jewel tones. That's my thing.
I finally broke out of the black IKEA furniture [phase]. I feel like it was a step up in my evolution as an adult. And so now I have like green side tables and a dusty blue sideboard.
Oh, I'm really into gold glass. My [picture] frames are gold. My coffee table's gold and glass. My TV table's golden and glass. And they don't match, they're not the same color gold, all of them. Because they were bought at different times. ¿Y que?
Luis: And that is beautiful. That's another thing, don't make it match. I hate walking into bedrooms where like the side tables, the bed, the everything [match]! And I'm like, “ugh, que pinche hueva” (translation: that’s so lazy). Give me something to look at. Give me texture, give me dimension, you know?
But you mentioned about having the aesthetic. I think for me, the aesthetic is not caring about what it's gonna look like together. Like as long as I love a piece, that's all that matters for me. If I love the piece, I wanna bring it in and it doesn't matter that it matches anything else.
My side tables right now, that's a
side table [lamp] that I did a DIGüey about.
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I bought that at like some like Target store. I painted it. And then here's my other lamp that I bought at the swap meet, right? So they're not matching. But it gives it texture. It gives it dimension.
Paulette: Yeah. Anything can be made to match if the overall aesthetic is about the same, right?
Luis: Claro (translation: clearly).
Paulette: Well, good. There's lesson number one from DIGüey. You need DIGüey university.
What’s Next for DIGüey?
Luis gets very real about the sacrifices he and his partner have made in order to grow his latest entrepreneurial venture, DIGüey.
Luis: For me personally right now is I'm trying to find a way to be able to constantly monetize DIGüey. Right now, I am living at home. I'm about to turn 41 years old. I'm living at home with my partner.
Luckily, I am very blessed that my parents are amazing, that they do have the space to have me and my partner here. And, I think for many people saying that right, is like, “güey, que pena” (translation: dude, that’s a shame). But I constantly say, you have to do what you have to do to be able to survive. Right now I don't have a full-time job. I don't have a job that pays you a weekly check.
And so right now my partner is the only one that's spearheading all of the costs. He's the breadwinner. He's the one that goes out, works, and comes back home. So I am very blessed in the sense that I have a partner that is willing to allow me to explore my creativity. And that's the reason why I'm able to explore it because my partner is allowing me to do that.
Claro obviously, we are not dining out, we are not going out on weekend vacations. We are not going out on vacations. We're not buying clothes every freaking month. And that is a sacrifice that him and I are both willing to make because we see that there might be a future in DIGüey. And, I wanna continue to grow my platform and I wanna continue to get sponsorships, but the end result for me is two things:
1. DIGüey Line of Products
The first one is to have a line of products. Already I am selling things on my website. And I always tell people that everything that I sell on there are things that I would use, or things that I've used, in my DIGüeys. I'm not just selling things to sell them.
Recently I just launched a stencil so that you could stencil your floor. And that whole thing started because the company that I bought my stencil that I did my patio from, I noticed that they just repost gringas (translation: white ladies). I was like, you know what? I know a lot of people got that stencil because of me, because they've tagged me and they've shown me. So I'm not gonna tag you anymore and I'm gonna create my own.
And I did. I created my own that literally just arrived, a day or two before I left to Mexico. So I need to now start posting videos on how to stencil y todo eso (translation: and all that) to start moving that product. So that is the number one goal to have a line of products.
And I'm also talking to other companies that have seen that when I've tagged them, that they've seen an increase in sales. So we're trying to see if we can do a collaboration where it's like, this is the DIGüey Picks. So come get them, whatever. And then me get a percentage.
2. DIGüey TV Show
And then the ultimate goal is to have a TV show. To have a DIGüey TV show because there aren't a lot. There are some. But the one TV host who is from Mexico, who has a show on Discovery in Espanol, if you go to his Instagram, it's full of color.
If you think I use color, he was like, “move over bitch!” Because he is just color, patterns, beautiful work. He does amazing work. But then I saw his show and I was like, “oh my God. They literally cut his wings!” They've literally cut his wings off. And even the colors of the show, they're bland.
So it's literally a carbon copy of like a TLC gringo show pero en español (translation: but in Spanish). Why would he allow himself to have these people cut his color and his aesthetic? He's literally now doing an IKEA showroom. In my head I'm wondering, maybe he got paid a lot and maybe this is the way he has to put his foot in the door and maybe this is how he's gotta start.
But my idea of the ultimate DIGüey show is the following, and I already have the premise and I already have like how it's gonna work. We are going to pay people's deposits so that we can paint their walls so that we can't come in there and give character to their home.
So ultimately, we would be working with people that are renting. Pay them their deposit so they don't have to worry about getting it back. They're already getting it back, and they could come home to a space that they could call home, that they can feel comfortable in, and that they want to come home to.
So that is the premise of the show. Obviously within that premise, we would be doing DIGüeys and teaching people how to bring life to a piece of furniture, whether it be a lamp, a chair, a sofa, a dining table, et cetera. And I'm hopeful that that can come to reality.
Paulette: That's amazing. I'm super excited for that. Why don't you just start a YouTube channel?
Luis: I do want to start a YouTube channel, but here's the thing. This is my biggest obstacle. I need somebody to help me edit videos. I need somebody that could help me do that. And so being able to edit on YouTube, like I have one video on YouTube. I do have a YouTube channel.
Pero si necesito alguien que me pueda ayudar a grabar y a editar (translation: I need someone to help me record and edit). And so that is the biggest obstacle right now because I don't have the means to be able to pay someone to do that. That's why I need to focus on selling on my website so that I can generate some money to be able to do that.
And be able to ask people, "Hey, do you have, do you want me to help you redo your patio so that I can start creating content?"
I've already started to do that. People have already started to hit me up, like, "Hey, how much would you charge me to help, redo my patio?" And I have helped some people.
Pero pues tambien tengo que respetar la privacidad de la gente (translation: but I also have to respect people’s privacy) and sometimes they don't wanna appear on social media, right? So they're paying me. I'm gonna respect that. You're paying me to redo your patio. I'm not gonna post about it.
But because they've seen what I've done with mine that they're like, “oh my God, I would love that!” So they're willing to pay, but they're not willing to be on camera.
Paulette: So you're able to produce an income but not content. And the goal would be both?
Luis: And the goal would be absolutely, the goal would be both.
Our Community’s Crabs in a Barrel Problem
Paulette: I feel like it's easier to find your community on TikTok than it is on Instagram. Instagram still has some like weird closed garden restrictions.
Luis: TikTok has just been amazing. Just the other day, my sister and I went to a local store, and then I got a DM a couple hours later and they're like, "Were you just at such and such store?" And I was like, "oh my God, yes." And then they're like, "oh, we saw you. We wanted to say hi. But we were like, oh my God, it's his day off. Whatever. He's just like doing his thing." I was like, "oh my God, that is awesome. You should have said hi."
That would've boosted my ego so much! But TikTok has been amazing and it's definitely helped me build such an amazing community.
Luis: Yes, yes. Both of them are amazing.
Paulette: They're amazing women. They've made space for me to be able to have these conversations and people like yourself having these conversations and showing that podemos vivir la vida más chévere (translation: we CAN live our best lives), and it doesn't have to exist within these corporate constructs.
Luis: Yes, absolutely. I think la vida es más chévere when you're true to yourself. When you do follow your dream, when you do follow your heart, and of course those are roads...this reminds me of, of a poem by Robert Frost, The Road Less Traveled.2
It's not easy and it's not for everyone. And if you're, listening to this and you do work in corporate America, this is not an attack on you clearly. Because again, these are roads that are less traveled, that are difficult. And not everybody wants to go through that. And that is perfectly fine. That is perfectly fine.
But what you do need to learn is that if you do choose to be in that corporate job, if you do choose to work at that customer service job, that you like it, at least. You don't have to love it, but that at least you like it because otherwise you're gonna be living a life of hell. And that is not a way to live.
I have an aunt in Mexico who sells quesadillas. She’s sold quesadillas all her life, but she does it with such joy. And she loves it, le va bien (translation: she does well). And she knows every single one of her customers that approach her puesto (translation: her stall/kiosk). So you do what you have to do, but hopefully you are able to do it, at least liking it. That, I think, should be the goal.
Paulette: Yeah, to be happy with your life.
Luis: ¡Para que tengas un vida más chévere!
Paulette: Exactly. And also, if you are stuck in a corporate framework and aren't able to derive the joy out of it, read Linda's book, Wealth Warrior. It will help you start taking steps to generate wealth so you're not dependent on that nine to five life for the rest of yours.
Luis: We'll bill Linda for that plug later.
Paulette: She's great. I'm so proud of her!
Paulette: I was there! I didn't see you, but there was how many people?
Luis: There were a ton of people, yeah. That book signing was…I'm so glad I got to experience that. Just being in that room, it felt like you were a part of history.
It was beautiful. It was amazing and I'm glad that I was able to be in her presence, in the presence of all of the people that were there because it literally took...when they say it takes a village, I was in that village. With all of the people from the village, and that was beautiful.
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I got there early because I had to leave early as well, and I got my book signed. I said hi to her and recorded, did a recap. And I loved it.
Paulette: It was amazing. And you know what? Her elevating herself that way elevates all of us. The rising tide thing, you get to rise up with the people that you're in community with. Or you can drown.
[If]you don't wanna rise up, you can drown.
Luis: It sucks, but I do have this theory that nosotros como Latinos (translation: us Latinos), unfortunately, we have the envidioso (translation: envy)…
Paulette: [Like] crabs in a barrel?3
Luis: Yeah, the envidioso gene. And we have to check ourselves. I have a hashtag, hashtag no seamos envidiosos (translation: don’t be jealous). I came up with that so that we could remind ourselves to not be envidiosos because it's very easy to be envidiosos.
Paulette: It is. And you know, what? It's a process. It's a process that you can learn. It's, it's just something that you have to learn, but you have to want to. That's the other thing.
Luis: You're absolutely right.
This portion was chock full of lessons.
Don’t be afraid of color (and not getting your deposit back).
Everything doesn’t need to (and shouldn’t) match.
The “aesthetic” can be “I don’t care, I just love it.”
Do what you have to do to survive, and hopefully it’s something you enjoy.
If you see a need, you’re allowed to be the solution.
Don’t be the crab in the barrel holding your community back from aspiring for more, even if you’re scared it won’t work out.
What else did you get out of this interview? Leave a comment to help enlighten everyone else who passes by this post!
Luis and I have different experiences about rental deposits, but I’ve edited that part out since it doesn’t change the overall lesson here: don’t be afraid of color!
The actual poem title is The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost