Brought to you by the editors of People en Español.
In a rare public appearance last night, actress Eva Mendes met with fans at a mall in Cerritos, CA, to promote her new collection, and plus-size extension, for New York & Co.
The famously private star opened up to People Chica about how she’s raising her two daughters in Latin culture, revealing that 3-year-old Esmeralda speaks mostly Spanglish. She also discussed her new line and how her Cuban heritage influences her household.
When you started collaborating with New York & Co, did you expect your collections to have the success it’s had?
Obviously, it was a risk. But, I’m so excited that I took that risk. New York & Co. is such an ideal partnership. It’s been amazing to have women respond the way they have. I’m super excited to be at this stage where we’re extending our sizes from XS – 3X. It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a while. Creating clothes available to women of a variety of body types is really important to me.
Did being of Cuban descent and the awareness that many Latinas have curvier bodies inspire you to create a plus-size line?
Being Cuban and being raised in a very typical Cuban household influences everything I do. My mom and two sisters — us 4 girls — all have completely different body types, and I love that about Latin culture. Under this beautiful umbrella of being Latin, are many shapes, colors, and sizes. I grew up with everyone looking so incredibly different from one another. It’s part of my heritage and culture to embrace all different kinds of body types.
Will you take your family to Cuba now that it’s possible?
I can’t wait to go! I’m waiting on the OK from my mom. She’s the matriarch.
Are you raising your kids in a Cuban household?
Esmeralda mostly speaks Spanglish right now. It’s really cute. She’s definitely bilingual, and it’s really important for us to make sure that she’s not only just familiar with the language, but also with the culture. My mom, who lives 15 minutes away, makes it is easy because she speaks to the girls in Spanish and cooks them Cuban food. And we’re always listening to Cuban music. It really is a big part of our way of life. I wouldn’t have it any other way. My dad, who has been here for 45 years and still doesn’t speak English, is a real asset. It’s so cool because now that I’m trying to make sure that my girls speak Spanish, it’s like, ‘Ok, Dad, take them,’ because I know that all they’re going to speak with him is Spanish.
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You’re famously very private and press shy. Do you like going out and doing these big meet-and-greets with fans?
It’s great! It’s something that I really enjoy. I love malls. I used to hang out there with my friends, and at 15, I got my worker’s permit and worked at a Pizza place. So I love coming back and meeting the people who are the real [New York & Co.] customers. I love getting feedback from them. Even though it’s a brief encounter, the first thing I ask them is what I can improve because that’s how we improve upon what we’re doing.
Had they been asking for a plus-size line?
Yes, among other things. We take those comments really seriously. Whether they’re talking about a certain style, or a certain silhouette, or something that they love and want to see more of, or something that they didn’t love, which is happening less and less. We really take the feedback and apply it to the next collection.
What do you take into account when you’re designing?
We like to cinch the waist [because] it’s very flattering. We put a lot of our attention on creating an inner band for the dresses, and a silhouette that’s flattering. A lot of women don’t like showing their knees, so we’re always taking that into account. Pockets in dresses is another one. They’re my personal favorite. I feel like a pocket makes it so cool. And then we use these fabrics that you don’t have to dry clean. It’s very easy care.
Shop the new Eva Mendes Collection at nyandcompany.com