How Carlos Ugalde’s ‘House of Chingasos’ clothing store brings classic Latino phrases to the new era
When Ugalde’s apparel store for cat lovers flopped, he never thought he’d get back into the retail business.
MORE IN THIS SECTION
Did you know? There’s an online store taking a spin on the sarcastic phrases that every Latino grew up knowing and loving.
Carlos Ugalde, the man behind House of Chingasos, is bringing nostalgic phrases back to life by adding them to T-shirts, hoodies, and hats.
“These phrases pull on the heartstrings and people connect with that," Ugalde explained to NBC News.
Ugalde was born in Bolivia but moved with his family to California when he was just eight months old. Tired of the lack of creative apparel that really connects with Latinos, he decided to play it simple and go with the old phrases that his family used growing up.
“Seeing families all wearing a shirt during the holidays, or just seeing something they got as a gift that reminds them of their mother, those things are so great to me," he said.
Ugalde used to own a store selling apparel for cat lovers, and never thought about going back to the business world once his store flopped.
“I think my cat store failed because I wasn’t passionate about cats,” he said to printful.com. “But I know my community. I know their humor, how they talk, and what they like.”
He knew if he was going to go open a store again, it has to be something that’s close to his heart.
“I thought after my first failure that people who make money like this must have some special connections or talent. I came to realize that’s not the case," he said.
Without a second thought, Ugalde decided to introduce the world to the catchy phrases that represent his Latino roots.
He first started his online store by just selling his shirts on Facebook to great success. He was not expecting the amount of feedback received in just a little amount of time.
“I made about $35,000 in sales my first month,” he said. “My second month, with Facebook advertising, we made $54,000, and we’ve been successful since then. We’ve had some great months and during the pandemic.”
His sentimental apparel has also attracted the attention of famous Latino celebrities like Mario Lopez and Oscar De La Hoya.
His hilarious clothing line offers shirts and hoodies with phrases like, “Café y Chisme” (coffee and gossip), “Count blessings, not tacos,” and "Sana, sana, colita de rana”, which is an old nursery rhyme that means, “Heal, heal, little frog's tail.”
One controversial shirt that’s been getting a lot of attention was, “I only look illegal,” which correlates to the ongoing prejudices in the U.S.
Ugalde chose the phrase ‘House of Chingasos’ because “Chingaso” is a commonly-used term that his friends and family in California used almost every day.
“We try to touch on things that are funny and sincere. I think these sayings resonate with people — they go, ‘Oh my gosh, I remember chingasos!’” he said.