During the pandemic, many people were forced to cut their work hours short, while some lost their jobs altogether due to quarantine. Pew Research Center found that 9.6 million households were unemployed during the first three-quarters of the pandemic. One of those people was Kareen Calderon, a 32-year-old Latinx who dreamt of pursuing a career in psychology but couldn’t due to financial reasons.
It wasn’t until April 2020 that she began creating apparel and accessories around the horror genre. After finding success on eBay, Calderon decided to develop a website where she could sell her products. Calderon is an entrepreneur who owns two online stores: Cats Intuition, her first store, and Brujita Vegana.
Kareen Calderon says Cats Intuition is “the most popular of the two stores” due to having more of a following on social media. She describes her merchandise as “horror-themed,” with many of the items like; cups, key chains, and stickers being from popular movies like “Halloween” (1978) or “Scream” (1996).
A few years after opening Cats Intuition in July 2020, she launched her second online store in April 2022 called Brujita Vegan. She sells shirts, tote bags, and other miscellaneous items with a gothic style. She sees Brujita Vegana as an outlet for expressing herself more than Cats Intuition.
“The desire for having a separate shop where I wasn’t so formal, and making random stuff that I like,” Calderon said. “Stuff that I wish was out there that I could have always been a passion project.”
She created Cats Intuition to share her passion for horror with other horror enthusiasts. Brujita Vegana emerged after Calderon noticed there was a lack of Latino horror-centric apparel, especially for Latinos who are vegan. According to the Vegetarian Research Group, around three percent of Latino U.S. adults are vegan or vegetarian.
“My hope to grow with the brand is to grow awareness among Latinos that it’s okay to be vegan or different,” Calderon said. “To be dark and to like nontraditional things like Brujeria.”
Although Brujita Vegana was always a passion project, it wasn’t what she expected to do for a living. Originally, Calderon wanted to transfer from Los Angeles City College to California State University, Los Angeles, to major in psychology and Spanish. She was in the middle of the moving process when the pandemic began. She had to stop going to school because she could not pay the tuition fees.
Calderon worked at a local coffee shop in the Los Angeles area that closed down due to quarantine. After losing her job, Calderon started customizing cups with pumpkins in all colors. With two kids and a husband, she decided to sell the cups on eBay to get a little income for her and her family.
“I’ve always been resourceful, so selling stuff online has never been foreign to me,” Calderon said.
After selling a few cups, she decided to make an Instagram page in June 2020. A customer bought one of the cups and posted a picture of it on her social media account, which then skyrocketed in popularity.
“It blew up to the point where we were getting 500 orders for that cup, and in the following months, we had to introduce it in different colors because we were running out of orange,” Calderon said.
With the popularity of her cups, she had to come up with more creative ideas for apparel, like creating shirts, pins, and stickers. Then in July 2020, she made a website to sell more of her merchandise, called Cats Intuition.
On top of being an entrepreneur, Calderon is also a vegan and has been vegan for the past five years. Adopting the lifestyle due to being overweight.
“I didn’t like where I was physically. I was almost 200 pounds, and I wasn’t comfortable in my skin,” Calderon said. “My clothes didn’t fit how I wanted to, and I didn’t desire to go out with people.”
Her vegan lifestyle has led her to notice popular restaurants and fast-food chains adopting plant-based menus. According to the Good Food Institute, in 2022, sales of plant-based foods grew three times faster than overall food sales. She cooks vegan meals for her family but considers them “vegan by association, ” meaning they are only regarded as a vegan because she is vegan. Although, when eating outside the house, her family can eat whatever they please.
“Even if they’re not vegan themselves, I respect that,” Calderon said. “That’s another thing that goes along with our brand [Brujita Vegana]. I want there to be respect for vegan and non-vegan people.”
She advocates for mutual respect for vegans and non-vegans and supports Latino-owned stores. She believes supporting small businesses is vital to strengthening the Latino community by purchasing goods from other similar stores. Calderon supports other companies by buying shirts and other merchandise from Latin shops and then customizes them to sell on her online store.
“I buy from another Latina shop where she sells shirts and prints designs, but she’s another Latina in Las Vegas,” Calderon said. “If you’re supporting my shop, you’re not just supporting me. There’s also another Latina that we’re supporting.”
You can find Kareen Calderon on Instagram at @cats_inuition, @shopbrujitavegana, or @brujitavegana and purchase her merchandise at catsinuition.com.