Caroline is the head honcho of Gambita. Gambita is an online store specifically for petites. Being 4’9”, she describes shopping as a “treasure hunt”. She couldn’t understand why there were stores for tall folks, but none for the short of us.
While her company is only a year old, Caroline has been making things happen. She got Huffington Post’s attention when she started a petite model search earlier this year. Caroline tried to do it the old fashioned way—contact agencies for models under 5’4”. With no luck and and no sense of change anytime soon, Caroline made it happen herself. Since then she's been a warrior for standing tall for the little people. Caroline is not only a proponent for bringing petite-friendly fashion mainstream, but she’s also passionate about bringing the petite pride back to the little ladies. I’ll let her tell you more.
Caroline, why is it so important that short women not only “deal with it” but embrace their stature?
Great question! For some reason the phrase “you always want what you can’t have” popped into my mind. I think it’s important for shorties to not only deal with it but embrace their stature for two reasons:
- There’s no point in wasting your energy wanting something that you have no control over (side note – I don’t consider growth hormones a viable option for anyone)
- As soon as we’ve stopped obsessing over these things we can’t change, it leaves room in your brain to focus on all the reasons that it’s AWESOME to be who you are. I truly believe once you “own” who you are only good things can come of it. And, as an added bonus, other people will feed off of that and think you’re awesome too.
How do you think being short has affected you professionally?
I got picked on a lot as a kid. My family moved from Mexico to a NYC suburb when I was eleven years old, so I was a new kid in middle school and was much shorter than everyone else. I think always being made fun of (and not in such a nice way most of the time) made me develop a thick skin and taught me to stand up for myself at a young age. My husband likes to make fun of me and say that I’m like that little dog in the dog park, but I don’t think I’m feisty –or whatever you want to call it—for the sake of being feisty. I just like to let it be known that I won’t be messed with because you may be a foot taller than me.
Why did you start Gambita? Was it something you always wanted to do? Did it arrive out of frustration of lacking options?
I’m 4’9” so shopping has always been a nightmare for me. I had always assumed that my shopping woes were due to the fact that I was exceptionally short, but after enough conversations with other taller petite friends and acquaintances I realized that we were all complaining about the same thing. I got curious and started doing some research and found out that actually half the female population in the US is petite. It seemed crazy to me that there wasn’t a better way for petites to shop when there are plus-size and big and tall stores. So after being unexpectedly laid off from my job, I decided it was a sign that I had to start Gambita!
How has your own self-image been affected by saturating yourself in this market?
So glad you asked! It’s only re-affirmed how awesome it is to be a Gambita!! Because of the nature of the business, I’ve come across so many amazing women who are petite and doing such cool things in their lives – from fashion blogs, to starting their own businesses, to writing books! I get inspired by these women everyday and want to spread the word about the cool stuff they are doing and let other Gambitas know that role models come in pint-sized packages too!
What does the future look like for Gambita?
We’re only in our first year and we’ve learned so much from the petite customer. We’re so excited to take all those learnings and continue to improve the shopping experience for petite women.
Who are your heroes?
“Heroes” might be too strong of a word, but I greatly admire: Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com CEO), Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO and author of Lean In) and Sonia Sotomayor (First Latina Supreme Court Justice). And of course, there is Shakira – petite powerhouse, rockstar, philanthropist, mom and sex symbol. How does she do it all??
Personal question: as a new business owner, how do you celebrate the little victories? I need to do a better job at this because I have a tendency to get excited for a split second and then get along with my day. I think it’s important to pause and acknowledge how far you have come so you can really internalize the progress you’ve made. Something to work on for 2014 for sure.
Thanks for taking the time to chat, Caroline! You are an inspiration to the short and tall alike.