You could say that Fancy Gomez has lived many lives. She came to the United States with her family as a child refugee from El Salvador. After high school, she followed her dream of becoming a model and became a successful photographer and videographer.

Today, Gomez is the CEO of Gonza, a Black and Latino-owned brand that empowers the Latinx community through silhouettes, colors, and patterns. The Los Angeles-based swimwear company brought singer Becky G on board earlier this year as their creative director.

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Gonza’s founder, Ryan Horne, approached Gomez to lend her perspective as a Latina for the brand to be authentic. It was important for Horne to have an accurate cultural representation for his Colombian daughter, and Gomez was the perfect choice.

“When I was younger, I thought modeling was my dream, but I was wrong,” said Gomez. “Leading Gonza and becoming a part of a mission that aims to promote people of all shapes, sizes, and colors was my true dream, and this time I had finally achieved it.”

Gomez spoke to FIERCE about her astonishing journey, how she learned to embrace her heritage in everything she does, and what she would tell Latinas dabbling in entrepreneurship.

Her upbringing taught her about responsibility from a young age

After moving to the U.S., Gomez’s family settled down in Dallas, Texas. Once she learned to read and write in English, she became the “Little Jefa” of the family – writing checks, making phone calls, and translating everything for her parents.

Once Gomez graduated from high school, she moved to New York City to make her modeling dreams come true. She signed with Ford Models but quickly became disillusioned with the industry. Her unique features weren’t preferred compared to her white counterparts.

“Instead of embracing my natural appearance and heritage, the modeling industry attempted to mold me into their cookie cutter standard, undermining the traits I loved most about myself,” recalled Gomez.

They plucked her eyebrows and cut, dyed, and thinned out her long, dark hair. Gomez was encouraged to trade the features from her indigenous ancestors for conformity, and it crushed her and her family. “My abuela hated the way they tried to manipulate my appearance and features, which is the very reason why I don’t cut or dye my hair anymore – in her honor,” said Gomez.

So, she took control and pivoted to photography and videography, studying photographers like Mark Seliger and Michel Comte. She moved across the country to Los Angeles and started her production company, Femme Cre8tive. Gomez’s portfolio includes projects for Vogue Italia, L’Officiel, and more. Now, behind the camera, she made it a point to feature women of color in her work. 

“I know the feeling of not being celebrated for who you are, and I never want anyone to feel like that,” said Gomez. “Regardless of skin tone or ethnic background, everyone deserves to be celebrated and included.”

Diving into the deep end with Gonza

With her foundation in photography, Horne came to her with the opportunity to join him at Gonza Swimwear. The offer meshed perfectly with her vision of uplifting her culture and community.

While launching into the fashion industry was difficult due to already established networks and norms, Gomez’s identity and fresh perspective made it doable. Inclusivity—in all aspects—was at the forefront of the brand.

Singer Becky G modeling a swimsuit from one of her collections with Gonza. She is sitting on a bench with her head tilted, looking toward the camera.
Image used with permission from Gonza.

Gomez heads a team that is 80% Latino, from models and photographers to leaders and more. Gonza recently launched its community creatives program, encouraging talented artists to submit examples of their work to collaborate with them. 

“I once was the voice for my family, now I am the voice for millions,” said Gomez.

How her culture influences her career moves

Gomez’s Latina background has always played a role in her career aspirations, and she’s learned a lot from it. She’s embraced parts of herself that make her unique and use those lessons to empower others.

Having faith has been her pillar as she moves through her entrepreneurial endeavors. “The one thing my mother has always taught me is to have faith,” she says before adding, “to believe in the light, even when things look dark.”

She lives by her mother’s words: “Enjoy your life.” Even when taking chances on yourself, life is still short, so it’s worth being brave.

Additionally, she would tell future jefas to use the tools we have at our fingertips to get started. She advises moving forward with strength and courage. 

“You can do it, reina! Take action, no matter how small,” Gomez said. “Stay consistent. Things don’t happen overnight, but they eventually do if you keep going.”