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Simply Mexicana, helping one woman connect to her Mexican heritage | Made in SA

An unexpected canvas creates a colorful opportunity for one San Antonio woman.

SAN ANTONIO — In a small corner of her room you'll find, Karen Gonzalez, painting on her preferred canvas – hats.

"When I began painting I didn't really want to make it a business or anything. I just was like here's a paintbrush and a canvas, so I started with canvases," Simply Mexicana, owner, Karen Gonzalez said. 

At the request of a friend, she discovered hats as a canvas and immediately was hooked. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced this pre-school teacher to work from home and gave her some extra time to work on her new pastime.

"It's like my self-care time, I really enjoy it... It's my alone time, I close my door and I'm painting in my room. It really helps me and I really, really like it," Gonzalez said.

Painting hats freehand, she fell into her own unique style.

"I like to think that I'm very inspired by my Mexican culture, so I like a lot of color, a lot of flowers and plants," Gonzalez said. 

Credit: KENS 5
Simply Mexicana hand painted hats

But while her hats draw from her rich heritage, it's something she's had to connect with from afar.

"I'm actually a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient so I haven't been able to go back to Mexico since I was a baby – which is why Simply Mexicana is something that helps me connect with being from Mexico," Gonzalez said. 

She's been drawing from her heritage and finding a new dream along the way.

"Now I'm a full-time small business owner," Gonzalez said. 

Stepping back from teaching and taking on this new path to business ownership with her company, Simply Mexicana.

Credit: KENS 5
Simply Mexicana hand painted hats

"I've been really blessed to grow, social media helped a lot, and I think being at home because of covid helped a lot too," Gonzalez said. 

Almost a year into business, this dreamer hopes to only continue to grow onto new canvases.  

"I've shipped hats to New York, Chicago and it's crazy to me because I'm just someone from San Antonio. It's really exciting and it's really helped me to be proud of being Mexicana and where I come from and what I do," Gonzalez said. "It's something that I hope I can do for the rest of my life."