Interview with Paula from La Barbuda

In our Makers section we are introducing you to the awesome people behind innovative products. Our guest this week is Paula the creator of La Barduda.

Please tell us a little about your background and what you are doing.

Hello! My name is Paula and I am la barbuda. I am a 31 year old girl who has always been in love with cinema, comics and video games. I studied journalism and worked as journalist and as scriptwriter for local TV series and then, 4 years ago, started my own brand: la barbuda.

As a freak myself, I always loved to wear T-shirts and to custom my clothes with patches inspired by my favorite movies and video games. But most of the times, these designs were just the logo of the film or video game, nothing else. That’s why sometimes I found it really difficult to wear ‘fashionable clothes’ instead of looking like a freak.

I created la barbuda thinking of the possibility of wearing nice designs inspired by my favorite movies. So my products (patches, pins, T-shirts, tote bags…) are all inspired by cinema.

La barbuda means bearded lady in Spanish (where la barbuda is based). And I chose this name because of the vintage freak shows. In these parades, la barbuda was one of the main characters: a woman who chose to leave her beard grow instead of having a good shave. I called my brand la barbuda so that people decided to stay freaky and show what they like the most: cinema. Instead trying to hide their likes.

Today I sell my products worldwide through my website ( and through more than 40 shops that include some of my products on their shelves.

Image by La Barbuda

What inspired you to create your brand La Barbuda?

I think that I always drew and wrote things, so art is not a thing I started at some point in my life, but something that was always there since I knew how to hold a pen (like every child). The thing, I guess, is that I just never stopped doing it.

I always thought everyone knew and liked to draw just like I do. Even the school I always thought school mates that didn’t draw good just weren’t trying their best and that that was all. When I discovered I was better in creative things (drawing, playing music, writing…) I decided to study and to dedicate more time to these things. I think about this process like sport: we always decide to play the sport we are the best at. The same happened to me with creating la barbuda: I guess that was a natural process that lead me to try to make a life with what I was better at.

The truth is that I never thought about la barbuda as something bigger than a personal project that I started as a CV’s extra: to show what I was able to do it. In fact, after 4 years, more than 400 different products in stock, moving to a studio and having hired one person so far, I still calling la barbuda my ‘project’ 🙂

What goes into developing a new design?

Basically I draw inspired by my favorite movies or TV shows. So I try to rewatch them from time to time to come up with new ideas or to be sure that the design I am thinking about is totally inspired and faithful to the movie. That said, a lot of times my customers comment or e-mail me asking for designs inspired by some particular movie that I haven’t watched yet. In these cases I wtatch the movie and most of time I come up with an idea for a design before the movie ends.

In the case that I have already seen the movie, I think and think about it until I come up with an idea that I think would be cool for a design. When I want to make different things (not just a drawing, but a dynamic lapel pin for example) I first think about the mechanism I want the pin to have and then I imagine which film and/or character/scene would fit it the best.

Once I have the idea, it usually takes me 1 or 2 days to create the design. If I am designing a print, it can take me up to 3 days because of detailing, textures, etc.

Image by La Barbuda

I think that it is pretty obvious seeing my designs that I am a big lover of traditional tattoos. I spend a lot of hours of my free time watching and looking for rad tattooers and their job. I really love tats and I think this ‘style’ is what makes my designs easy to identify as ‘barbudos’ 😉

I think that the most time consuming part is coming up with an idea for a dynamic pin. I still want to make some dynamic pins that work with different mechanisms than the ones I have already tried, but still haven’t come with the right character/film scene. I know when I come with the idea it will be suddenly, so I just keep on thinking about it from time to time, rewatching my favorite movies and designing patches, prints and pins until inspiration comes to me!

What have been some of the biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge has been my recent move to a new studio. It has been a really huge decision to move from my home (where I had been designing, at my studio, for 3 years) to an office. Even when it was necessary because the product’s stock didn’t fit in my home anymore. Going to pop-ups with my brand is really stressful for me as well: they are really far away from my daily route and means that I have to travel, to make all the products fit in the booth… and to catch up with e-mails and unshipped orders once we’re back in the studio!

Image by La Barbuda

Last year was the first time I attended a pop-up in another city (Madrid: 5 hours by car from our studio) and it was such a great experience we are going again this year. In 2018 we plan to participate in 5 pop-ups and next year we would like to attend at least 10 and to hire a new person. Let’s see if everything goes as planned!

“I always think that interesting things are beyond our comfort zone, so I try to always push myself to try new things, which makes a challenge itself for me.”

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

I think that my biggest achievement is the way la barbuda is working and growing each year. Every week we receive e-mails from shops all around the world interested in carrying la barbuda’s products and this is something I could have never dreamed about. This and shipping orders everyday is just amazing. Feeling that people connect, understand and really are into my work is just fantastic and gives me the energy to keep on working.

What are your goals for the future?

Image by La Barbuda

At this time, my goals are that all the pop-ups we are attending this year turn out fantastic. And to release at least 4 complete collections until the end of the year. I would also like to hire a new employee before this year ends. The only thing to achieve this goals is to still working hard and to keep thinking of new ideas for illustrations and new designs all the time. One never knows when the inspiration or a good idea will come!

My personal goals at the beginning of the year were to surf more and to worry less. And, at least by now, I am doing pretty good!

What advice do you have for someone who is just getting started with their own project?

The truth is that I have always worked in a creative/artistic job. And I cannot imagine myself doing another thing. I never thought of making a living with my own art as a life objective. I just think being creative is the thing I do the best and then studied and worked for it. When I started la barbuda I never thought it would lead me here: living from my own art, selling my products and designs worldwide, etc. I thought about it as a personal project to show what I am able to do so that it could be a tool to find a job. I think it is really important to keep on working, tireless. But do not have a really strong idea of success so that you never get disappointed.

Image by La Barbuda

As a cinema lover I think inspiration is part of my life and my childhood. When I was just a 10 year old kid, my parents, my brother and I used to watch a movie everynight before going to bed. I always thought that was what all the families did. It was just a part of the day that we all enjoyed together. I love cinema and have watched tons of films, getting inspiration from this huge part of my life just happens 🙂

I think most of people think that it is really important to have a really cool Wacom/iPad to start designing. I just started with a 8+ years old laptop and didn’t buy a decent PC and Wacom until my 10Th collection or so.

“I always have thought that the really important thing is to never stop working/creating and to be able to know what people are interested in and go for it. The more you create the more ideas you will have.”

I think the only mistake is not to create more related designs of what your customers love. We must never forget that we are creating not for ourselves, but for our customers. So we must never stop listening them. Sometimes I create designs based on movies that I don’t like and that’s totally ok.

I think that there’s one only advice I could give to anyone who is starting or planning to start their own business (no matter what it is about): to be always positive and to always stay optimistic. A lot of times we are our worst enemies. Once I read the following question: how many times would you be a friend of someone that treated you the way you treat yourself?

“We must rely on what we are doing because if we don’t; if we don’t think what we are doing is the best we can, that our job is great, then who will?”

Which resources, tools, insights have been the most helpful to you?

I think that watching films (and loving to do so!) since I was a child is the thing that helped me the most. This and being good at art. I always use Photoshop, as I think as myself as an illustrator better than as a designer. I self learned how to use Photoshop reading the whole program’s manual. I started designing by hand and then colouring digitally with a really old and tiny Bamboo dock and using the mouse too.

I don’t think that without my boyfriend nothing of this could be possible. He always believed in myself and encouraged me a lot to try to make a life from my drawings. He is the only one I ask for advice (and I still doing it a lot of times!). The one who bares me when I am down. The number one fan of la barbuda.

Image by La Barbuda

I think one of the most useful tools for us indie Internet shops are Social Media (Instagram and Facebook overall) and e-mail. I think the only ‘problem’ that happens with selling online is that once you ship one customer’s package, that’s it. I mean, you kind of ‘loose’ communication with this transaction. I really love to receive feedback from my customers via DM (FB and IG) and e-mail. Also, I started participating with la barbuda in pop-ups and it is really cool to see people’s reactions when they see my work, to see them buying the products and to know people who had previously bought online. It feels like every pop-up I take part of charges my batteries!

I find speaking and meeting other creative persons or business people is really nice too. As we always can share problems (and solutions!) and because nobody understands better our concerns than us ourselves.

Who would make the better friend for life, R2D2 or C3PO?

Image by La Barbuda

I think C-3PO would make a better friend for life as we speak the same language! But his depressive mood would be really hard to stand. So I choose R2-D2: fast as hell and always in a good mood (or at least that’s what it seems). After all, I don’t understand neither what my dog is saying and she is still one of my best friends!

What’s the most favorite design you’ve ever created and why?

I don’t know if it is my best design, as it was one of my first drawings. But ‘I want to Believe‘ is the first design that I felt that really connected with my customers and the one that started it all. I think that now I created much more elaborated illustrations (textures, colors, shades, etc.). But it is still one of customer’s favorite designs and for la barbuda (and for me as well!) it meant a before and after.

Where can we learn more about you and La Barbuda?