We’re partnering with Latino Memphis to bring you Somos Memphis! A hub of content focused on sharing all the great endeavors, businesses, and more from Memphis’ Latinx community. The Latinx culture isn’t a monolith–there are so many vibrant cultural aspects, forms of expression, and perspectives that come together to make Memphis the amazing city that it is. We can’t wait to share more stories with you!
Allie Arcos is the creative genius behind Made to Dream! She launched the business earlier this summer and we’re digging her work. She’s created everything from reminders of our childhoods to encouraging and inspiring phrases and we’re so excited to see what’s to come. Want to learn a little more about her and the business? Keep reading!
What’s the background on Made to Dream Co.? How did you get started and what inspired you?
Made to Dream was born out of my passion for art and my wanting to share it with everyone else in a fun, creative way. I have always loved drawing and painting, and during the summer of 2020, I had a lot of time on my hands to look for other creative ways to express myself artistically.
As most of us probably did, I downloaded TikTok on my phone and found myself going down a rabbit hole of what people like myself started doing to pass the time. And that’s where I ran across a community of artists who started small businesses on Etsy during the pandemic and immediately became inspired.
After months of research, trial and error, and trying to figure out what to name my brand, I landed on the name “Made to Dream”. The name, as well as the logo, are not just what represents my business, but also a part of what I personally identify with. Being a Mexican immigrant as well as belonging to what society knows as Dreamers, I decided that I could show others that anything is possible, no matter the apparent limitations. From there, and with that vision in mind, I gathered the courage and took a leap of faith to launch my very own business in June of this year.
I decided to be proud of not only my art but also my identity as a Latina by creating products that showcase my culture as well as my faith and other things I am passionate about. I’m also grateful to say that this has allowed me to not only share my own designs but to make others smile by creating custom pieces!
Your “My Dreams Are Not Illegal” sticker is outstanding. Can you tell us more about the story behind it?
This was one of my very first designs. Before I even knew what to name my business, and it resonated with me for many reasons. The monarch butterfly has become a symbol for immigrants; people who seek a better life and a brighter future for their families, and the term Dream or Dreamers has represented a specific group of young people for quite some time now.
As a Dreamer myself, the phrase “My dreams are not illegal” takes on a meaning that goes far beyond politics; it represents the fact that no matter the limitations or obstacles set before me due to circumstances I had no control over, my dreams, goals and ambitions are always valid. As a Dreamer, I may have to work twice or even three times as hard as the average person next to me to attain them, and that’s okay, because once I get there, I know I’ll cherish it so much more.
I found that this simple phrase was an encouragement and reminder to others that may find themselves in a similar situation that no matter what is set in front of us, the sky is quite literally the limit. More importantly, I have made sure to emphasize that anyone, Dreamer or not, has the right to dream far beyond what might seem attainable, and that those dreams can come true! This particular design is what actually ended up inspiring my business name and logo. Needless to say, this has been my most popular sticker by far, having sold out a couple of times already in my Etsy shop!
How has Memphis’ Latinx community been a part of your own story?
Ah! Where to start? I moved to Memphis back in 2001, when the Latinx community was minimal in our city and to see how much it has grown in the last twenty years has been absolutely amazing. Having attended and graduated from one of the most diverse schools in Memphis, Kingsbury High, I had the opportunity to be exposed to different cultures within the Latinx community. I was also a part of a program Latino Memphis sponsored at Kingsbury at the time and I can truly say that those experiences have greatly shaped who I am today.
In a world where representation is so important, I feel that I have been able to not only share my experiences as a Latina with others, but I believe that I have also been able to make a difference by simply being there to help those in my community. I currently have the privilege to work at a school where the Hispanic population is rapidly increasing and I have been able to serve the Latinx community by helping bridge the gap of communication between parents and school administration. I have been able to talk to students that find themselves questioning their future and be able to encourage them and to let them know that if I did it, so can they. From the school that I work at to the church I attend, I don’t see myself doing anything that doesn’t involve giving back to my community in some way. And there is no place I’d rather be doing this than in my home, Memphis.
If you could give any advice to anyone looking to start a business, what would that be?
It would definitely be to never, ever, limit yourself. Never compare your ideas, creativity, or success to anyone else’s. There were times when I almost talked myself out of starting my own business, where I would think to myself, “What if this turns out to be a huge waste?” or “What if no one likes what I have to offer?” but then I realized that I would never know if I didn’t try. I trusted God and I believed in myself and didn’t let those negative thoughts and self-doubt take control. Another critical tip that worked for me was to do research and be fully informed of what owning a business entails. Believe it or not, a huge source of information was social media itself. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok have been extremely helpful to find tips, guides and most importantly, communities of people willing to help!
What’s next for you and Made to Dream Co.?
I have so many plans for Made to Dream! Sometimes it’s hard to believe that it’s only been officially a business for a little under three months! I am currently working on a new collection featuring some designs centered around Hispanic Heritage Month and they will be released later this month! As far as a long-term goal, I’d like to be able to expand my products beyond just stickers. I’d like to have my designs printed on shirts, greeting cards, and stationery in the near future and perhaps someday be able to set up a pop-up shop at different events around town. I’d love to expand my brand to be able to work with different organizations in the city to bring even more Latinx representation to the mix!