Leticia Gomez: Boss DJ

Leticia Gomez: Boss DJ

Above: Co-owner of West Coast Artwear, Leticia Gomez


-Tell us a little about the company..

 We are a family owned and operated screen printing shop located in Los Alamitos, right behind the hospital. It’s been here since 1988, and my family since 1994. It’s ran by both my mom (Josie) and I.


- how did you get involved? 

  My mom started working here when I was 4 years old. Being a single parent she went around looking for work and took whatever she could get. She was originally hired to help out around the shop cleaning and such, but 3 months in and she was already printing. She watched and paid attention to what everyone was doing so she could learn every part of the business and worked her way up. Growing up I was always at the shop when there wasn't anyone to watch me or my brother and would help fold or lay out shirts. I grew up here, so I've been around screen printing all my life pretty much.

Jose Gomez West Coast Art Wear Apparel Screen Printing Long Beach Music Scene above: Josie Gomez


 - if a band has a logo, how difficult is it for them to bring that to you and get shirts, jackets, etc made?

 It’s not that difficult at all. It’s as simple as emailing your logo. We'll check to see if its in the correct format, pick the style of shirt, give a quote and once that is approved we are good to go!


- what challenges did you face during the pandemic and how did you over come them?

The pandemic brought a variety of challenges, I'd say the main one being product availability. Stock on product had been extremely low and would disappear the minute it became available. There were also shortages on supplies, inks and additives. Some companies even put some supply production on hold until they were able to get their hands on what they needed to make them. The supply chain was a mess and everyone was scrambling to keep things going. Thankfully customers were very understanding, some of which themselves were facing the same issues with their business's. The downtime gave us a chance to get the shop in order. My family took over during the first few months of lock down. The previous owners had plans to close for good, but we were able to get the business handed over to us. 

Having been here my whole life seeing what works and what doesn't work, I saw it as a chance to give new life to it. Those slow months during lock down turned out to be just what we needed to get a solid foundation going. We upgraded equipment, painted, cleaned, organized, we really just got things in order and ready to go for us. Having been able to make it through such a challenging time that no business owner had really faced before was certainly a learning experience. 


West Coast Art Wear Long Beach Music Scene

- What advice would you give someone starting up their own small business today?


First and foremost, do your research! There are tons of resources available to us these days. Smartphones give you access to a world of knowledge. There is a youtube video for just about anything you need to learn. Watch a couple different ones, cross check information. When it comes to owning a business the man don't play, and laws are always changing. You have to make sure you got everything in order, all the right permits and licenses and such. I don't meant for that to scare anyone off, but it’s so important.


Second, lean on your community! There's always someone who knows something you don't, don't be afraid to embrace that and ask for help. Local businesses and business owners know the struggle and more than likely learned some hard lessons along the way, you can find a good few who are more than happy to share that knowledge. Check for resources in your community or programs that offer assistance. I've had to learn and navigate a whole new world running this business and I am always learning. It’s unfortunate, but a lot of us were never taught this information. Useful information to better ourselves, grow, make the system work for us. Its out there though, all that information and people who want to see it happen for you.


 West Coast Art Wear Long Beach Music Scene


- how did you get involved in the Long Beach music scene?

 I got involved in the long beach music scene through my friend Mike B. He had once worked here at the printing shop as a graphic designer and we stayed good friends after he left. He eventually ended up in Long Beach doing all sorts of thing, photography, music, videos. He had a great series called ‘Community Music’ where he'd film acoustic performances. He knew a lot of bands and would send friends our way for shirts. I'd hang out and go to their gigs or house shows and take photos with him. At that time I was shooting everything and it kind of snowballed from there. I'd take photos of hangouts, do promo shoots, some video work, shoot shows, all sorts of things. I really was about capturing everyone and everything happening in the music scene because it was all so special and beautiful to me. Found my home at Que Sera, threw my first event there back in 2014. I even worked there for a bit booking and bar backing. Also threw a series of shows there to raise money for a new sound system. 

I eventually met and became fast friends with Benny and before I knew it we were DJing vinyl and booking shows together under Las Chicas Tristes. 



- When did you start Dj’ing? It seems like you’re super busy with both the shop and gigging, how do you balance the two?

 I had started DJing by spinning vinyl with Benny. She had some shows she said I could come down and spin with her so I would join her to help her out. As far as digital I remember being at peoples house parties/hangs and getting my hands on the AUX and just going for it, eventually I got a controller and DJd a few shows/house shows I had helped book and once people saw that I started getting booked. Benny and I eventually teamed up digitally and it took off from there. 

Things aren't as crazy now post covid, before we had a couple residencies every month we'd DJ and book, as well as Mezcalero every Thursday. Those times were hard with the late nights and having to come to the shop, certainly experienced a lot of burn out and it was starting to affect my health. The last few years have been pretty intense and eye opening for a lot of people, I'm no different. I learned my fair share of lessons and had to do that internal work to be okay with putting myself first. I've gotten a lot more comfortable saying no to things, prioritizing time for me. We have our weekends at Portuguese Bend which has been an absolute dream. Early nights and everyone there is so incredibly sweet, kind, caring and fun. It almost doesn't even feel like work, we are so blessed. We have a residency currently at Blind Donkey and pick up a few other gigs here and there. I've put a limit on myself and what I take on because the shop now comes first. I love DJing, I love seeing people have fun and being apart of that experience. I'm always open to gigs, they just have to be the right ones that fit. My priority is building a foundation for our family and having something we can pass down, this is an opportunity to change the course of our family and that is number one for me.


Screen Printing West Coast Art Wear Long Beach Music Scene

- what makes the Long Beach music scene so special? 

I could go on for hours about this but I will try to keep it short. 

The music scene in Long Beach is so diverse and made up of so many very different people. There's so much talent, there are so many stories, so many nights with these magical moments of sincerity and vulnerable beauty. People who are playing just to play because its what they do, what they love. Passion is a very beautiful thing, and its hard to not watch in awe and be amazed by it. Its at a whole different level to be immersed in it, have the conversations, hear the love, see the support. Its so many people of different mediums coming together and creating an experience. Photo, video, visuals, Dj's, artists, writers and so many more. You just can't beat it.


- Shout out to anyone in special in the community? 

Definitely! First and foremost, Proghouse! Love you guys. Thank you Mike and Matt for everything and sending people our way. 

Benny Jets! I don't even know where I would be if we didn't meet, we've done so many great things and we are just going to keep growing, thank you for spreading the word and sharing the shop any chance you get! Shanna, Ahrielle, and Melody, always sound advice and love, thank you for keeping me grounded and having my back. The BBQ Babes! Den, Mads, JP, Clayton, Carlos, and Julian. Its always love and support from them. Tatiana too! Slice! The Porch crew, love ya Casey! Jerry, who's doing great things with his photography and video work, always got my back too. Ricky, he's helped us out here at the shop and taught us some tips & tricks, you've been a blessing. And also you guys at STAX! So excited for whats to come for you guys and thank you for reaching out to us to interview. 



- Long term goals for the company?

Expansion! We are going to be taking over the unit next to us and getting some new equipment, I got my eyes on an automatic press to increase production. I also want to get into screen printing skate decks, learning about that process and getting some of that equipment. Ultimately though for me, the goal is to get this place to the point where my mom doesn't need to work anymore and we are able to give back. That's what its all about.


 Current Favorites:

- album 

Ethiopiques, vol. 21: Emahoy (Piano Solo) - Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guébrou

With DJing a lot when I listen to music on my own I tend to gravitate towards music with no vocals. This is an album I've been trying to get my hands on for a while and recently put back on rotation for my drives.

 - local band 


 - local restaurant

This is a tough one, but at the moment it has to be between Pacific Tacos ( I try to hit it up before gigs ) and Chens. Their Hot & Sour soup has been perfect for the cold nights. I'm also just waiting for that Shady Groves location to open up cause that will be it for me!

 - local bar

 Que Sera, its home.

 - spot to play / perform

As far as DJing, Portuguese Bend. Cant beat that staff <3


Small Business Spotlight is a monthly blog that features locals doing what they do best. We hope that the content we provide is helpful and insightful and we are always open to comments and suggestions. If you think there's someone we should feature, let us know here!


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