“Born from pain and grief and it blossomed into vida y corazon”
Valentina Marrufo is the owner and creator of Mission Native, a brand of Mission-inspired apparel and accessories, started in 2012 and now sold in Joe Guerra’s Mission Barbershop on 3422 25th St. and also through Instagram. The creations began from a place of pain. After losing her mother, Marrufo fell into a depression that endured for several years, she said. “Really really difficult to deal with…she was the love of my life. I felt a lot of loss,” Marrufo said. It didn’t help, she added, that she was also losing her neighborhood to gentrification.
One night, Marrufo had a confrontation with a group of people who she knew did not live in the Mission. “I saw unwelcomed change in the community and felt life was getting out of control.” Marrufo explained.
At home that night, Marrufo cried herself to sleep, but during the middle of the night she heard a voice in her head, “I woke up hearing Mission Native at 2 a.m.” Marrufo grabbed her phone trying to find what this image meant, but there was nothing there. She finally thought to herself; “That’s you! What are you going to do with it?”
“This was the time to move forward by creating Mission Native,” she said.
Marrufo’s first creation was phone grips with the Mission Native logo. Later, she began creating designs for hoodies, shirts, jewelry, and other apparel. Marrufo’s inspiration reminisces with her past experiences, influential artists like Tupac, and culture. Using historic identities like 415 or Latina culture, Marrufo’s most signature look is a red rose symbolizing her mother who loved roses and the color red being frequently present in her childhood. “The roses are huge for me!” Marrufo said with excitement.
“I’m ready to talk about my mom, the depression, and the long time for me to put in the work,” Marrufo said. She shares her stories through her social media pages, especially on Instagram. And her community supports her all the way. “Mission natives know and speak from their hearts and souls. It’s classic!” Marrufo said.
Mission Native has collaborated with other Mission local businesses throughout the years. The Mission Barbershop has been selling Mission Native products since May 2021. “I really just admire the way she holds herself and the standard for her business, she’s very talented and shows lots of love to the community,” said Guerra. Marrufo also worked with Al Pastor Papi’s food truck, which sold her products for over a year. “I feel it’s my duty to help out any business I can, specifically a Latina-owned business,” owner Miguel Escobedo said.
“People thank me for keeping their hoods and memories alive.” Marrufo said adding that the DNA of her culture could not be changed. “You can’t erase me!” Marrufo said with confidence.
Mission Native’s hottest selling product is the iconic earrings and coffee mugs. “I swear your coffee tastes different in a Mission Native mug!” Marrufo said with humor.
In the business, it’s Marrufo and her number one fan, her husband, Armando. He’s her driver, lifter, and the one who sets up for her. “My husband is my ride or die!” Marrufo said. However, she could always feel her mothers’ presence emotionally surrounding her.
To this day, Marrufo is still surprised by what she has done. Marrufo grew up on 24th and Bartlett St, and the barbershop is only a block away from her childhood home. “The thought of my brand being a block away from where I grew up is surreal to me.” Marrufo said. “It’s a true, unexpected blessing! And I’m proud of myself!”
Mission Native’s Instagram & Store
Thank you for this story. Ever since I bought a few fabulous mugs from Valentina at the benefit for our beloved muralist Marina Perez-Wong, I didn’t know how to buy more of my favorite mug, the one that says “Bendecida”. I don’t do Instagram, so am really happy to know that Valentina’s products are available at Joe Guerra’s Mission Barbershop at 3422 – 25th Street.
Wonderful story. I wish great success to Ms Marrufo. Thanks for the Mission memories.