Christine Longoria is a Millennial That is Using Her Expertise to Help Others
Written By: Ariana Velazquez
Photographed By: Bhadri Kubendran Dear Survivor
A woman, an artist and a humanitarian. With Christine Longoria as the one woman show behind Dear Survivor, a minimalist fashionista’s dream of ethically handmade accessories, no stone goes unturned. Coming from a background in sociology and fine art, though fashion and design have always been a passion of hers, Longoria had no classic training in design or business, making this a curious and wonderful adventure for the young entrepreneur. What started as a way to earn quick cash for a sculpture residency in Budapest turned into the perfect way for the designer to marry her passion for helping others with her love for fashion into one unique and beautiful brand.
Looking back on how her past experiences have lent a hand in preparing her for the challenges and success of Dear Survivor is quite a treat for Longoria. Having worked for a nonprofit clothing company in Los Angeles and learning how to work with leather at a small family business, Potato Feet, Longoria’s path was paved from the start.
“Both were super small businesses and I was able to see all the different sides of running a small business… not intentionally, but it makes so much sense now,” Longoria said about her previous work.
After receiving tax returns that were going towards a trip to do a sculpture residency in Europe, Longoria decided to “buy some leather, make some things,” which ultimately doubled her money. After doing so, a friend mentioned she should start a business doing this same leather work. Hearing this comment sparked her interest and she thought to herself, “Well, I’ve always had this idea in my head that if I do some type of fashion thing I want it to be a social enterprise.” Thus, Dear Survivor was born.
“Within a month, I’d launched a company. I was at my launch party at the Arts District in LA, I had a moment to myself and I was like ‘What did I just do? If I don’t keep this going, I have a failed business.’ That really freaked me out for a second,” said Longoria. Now, two years later, she has kept her business alive and well, and there only seems to be good things on the horizon.
Not native to San Diego, Longoria has easily found her place within the small businesses and creative community that occupies North Park and East Village. Not only has she been able to take advantage of the supportive, creative community that is being cultivated here, but she also has found inspiration and friendships within brands like Bradley Mountain. One day, Longoria aspires to have a similar production system setup to Bradley Mountain for Dear Survivor in which she hires women who have come out of human trafficking, have been rehabilitated and are looking for work.
After debating if she wanted to move to San Francisco, her decision to make the move to San Diego was ultimately decided when she realized she wanted to be within the same city that her organization donates to. She decided to partner with GenerateHope, a two-year rehabilitation program for women who have been rescued from sex trafficking all across the country. Not only is GenerateHope the first and only recovery program for trafficked women in San Diego, but it has also served over 90 women.
A home for girls ages 18 and under is in the works, but for now, GenerateHope offers women long term, safe housing, education, case management, psychotherapy and much more. “They are a faith-based organization, which I was looking for because I believe that is important with the restoration process. I reached out to them and asked if they were interested, what would this look like and they were super excited. They are awesome; they do really good work and are super respected within the nonprofit world,” said Longoria.
Longoria is still working hard to find the balance of being both self-sustainable and world changing. She is an impeccable example of the millennial generation at its finest—socially aware, creative and driven. Dear Survivor showcases how much one person can do to create something beautiful, while simultaneously giving a hand to a worthwhile charity. Working with a family owned business to get her leather and handpicking stones for her jewelry, Dear Survivor’s concept of craftsmanship and ethically produced goods is driving more and more consumers to hit the ‘purchase button’ at checkout.
“I am trying to take the ethically made thing as far down the line of production as possible. I am trying to source all the products that I work with ethically. It is hard but worth it and so fun,” said Longoria. Using the best raw supplies and her skills in an aesthetically pleasing way to benefit mankind has brought continuing success to Dear Survivor. There’s no doubt that the future is bright and the possibilities are endless for this truly timeless brand.
Top Notch: Dear Survivor’s best selling item are the Cluster Earrings, a beautifully designed cluster of jewels that are the perfect accessory for any outfit.
DIY: Christine’s favorite product is the Mini Duffle Handbag, and she loves to make them as well.
Roaring San Diego: All work and no play makes anyone dull. Christine enjoys spending her downtime at the San Diego Zoo.
Where to Find Dear Survivor
Aloha Beach Club
Trend Setter: Christine’s favorite labels include not PERFECT LINEN, Beklina, and Bryr Clogs.
4025 Camino del Rio South, Ste 300
San Diego, CA 92108
Christine Longoria of Dear Survivor Isn’t Your Average Millennial