In our social media driven world, it has become incredibly simple for us to edit and control how our lives appear to others over the internet. Instead of opening up about our struggles, we tend to hide them. Be Bona Fide, an apparel brand and outlet for sharing real life stories, is trying to change that. Founders Laura Tafoya Rush and Nicole Taylor Barlow met in college, but when Nicole transferred schools, the two lost touch. They reconnected in Dallas, Texas years later. In their part, they had only communicated through social media. Once they met up again in Dallas, they had the chance to discuss and catch up on all the time the two had missed together, realizing that both their lives were not as perfect as they had appeared on social media. This made them consider why society makes people feel like that they should not reveal their true emotions and feelings over social media, and why people hide their worries and insecurities. From this, Be Bona Fide was born. Be Bona Fide is an outlet that shares real stories, spreading their message through their blog and social media.

Did you ever think Be Bona Fide would be as successful as it is today?
I’m going to be honest right now, we are not paying ourselves yet, everything goes back into the company at the moment. Being successful in our society means making a profit. But in our eyes it has been SO successful! Really more successful and more fulfilling than we could have ever imaged. When we started talking about our company, we knew it was something special. We knew it had the potential to become a successful movement in helping us find our happiness as well as a way to help provide an income for our families . So to answer that question, yes, we knew we would be where we are today. Did we hope that after a year we would be gaining profit? Yes. We have had setbacks, full time jobs and babies that have steered us away from jumping two feet in and committing to growing this company. I think right now we are humbled and grateful for how far we have come, but know it can leave an impact and be more successful than it is right now. We are feeling more committed than ever to grow this company and take it to that next level.

Looking back, what do you wish you had known when you first started Be Bona Fide?
I think we were fortunate to have the mindset to just jump in! We were so excited about our idea that we really just ran with it. That is a great way to start a small business because we have focused on failures as they came and steered our brand and product by listening to our supporters. I wish we would have known that anything that is going to be successful will take time A LOT of time and hard work. Laura and I are all about instant gratification and that instant gratification never is the case. A company’s growth is all in the little day to day dealings and we have learned that. Nothing comes easy, it does not come over night. By starting up a company from scratch, you are in for the long haul, it is not a sprint.

Where do you find inspiration for Be Bona Fide?
We find inspiration through our supporters! Seriously, we are so inspired by your stories and your vulnerable words. Our company is based off what you share and the fact that this movement has helped people find happiness and inspiration is more rewarding than anything tangible.

Is there a specific quote, person, place, or thing that motivates you during hard times?
Again, our supporters! Your stories push us to keep going and push us to work hard. You help to provide this outlet with great content and new product ideas that can serve as reminders to seek positivity through our trails. On our hard days or sleepless nights, everything is put into perspective when we read how Be Bona Fide has helped you overcome society’s pressure to be perfect. We need this message in our life and we will not stop until we know you can find joy in being Bona Fide.

What advice would you give to someone pursuing their own individual dreams?
Don’t overthink it. Just do it.

Being bona fide means not letting society sway what you believe happiness is or should be.

How would you define the term “bravery”?
Bravery is someone who is willing to be different – someone who is willing to be go outside of their comfort zone, someone who is not just doing what society tells them what will make them “happy”. Bravery is someone who is…BONA FIDE.

How does this issue’s theme, “Brave Hearts”, apply to your brand?
Be Bona Fide is a brand representing the real side of ourselves. A side that is not usually shared on social media. Being bona fide and opening up about our individual trials is hard, it is a brave movement to be involved in. We are encouraging people like yourself to push outside of our society’s comfort zone and tell the other half of our story. We want to show our highs and our lows and most importantly, how we are growing from our trials. A trial that has shaped us, a trial that ended up finding happiness at the end of the tunnel.

When was a time you’ve gone out of your comfort zone or taken risks in terms of your company or your life in general?
A huge risk for any company is launching it. Taking that first step to put up our website and putting our brand out there, praying others will love this message/movement as much as we do was SO scary and still is scary. Taking risks and getting out of our comfort zone is the only way we will continue to grow. We encourage everyone to do something scary at least once a day.

What’s one word you would use to describe Be Bona Fide?

What does being bona fide mean to you?
Being bona fide means not letting society sway what you believe happiness is or should be.


How does that reflect in your company’s aesthetic?
Our company’s main goal is to encourage others to learn to love themselves & others through being genuine and by creating valuable relationships that are more than just surface level.

What distinguishes Be Bona Fide from other brands?
We are not just focusing on a product to sell. We are providing an outlet that shares real life stories, a place that allows us to lean on each other. A place where we can go to remind others to have a more positive outlook on life, no matter what we may be going through. We are creating that outlet by sharing other’s real-life, relatable stories, their trials and their struggles to create an uplifting culture.

What are your aspirations for the future of Be Bona Fide?
We have many goals for the future, one of them is to make our site a consistent place where people come to, to find comfort and happiness through real life stories.

How do you think your friendship has affected Be Bona Fide?
Laura and I’s friendship really was brought to that next level when we started to create Be Bona Fide and its brand. Be Bona Fide has honestly helped our happiness level more than we ever thought possible. We have realized that valued and selfless relationships is what brings us happiness. Having this real relationship is something that I will never take for granted because it is so important to have in life. We are there for each other without judgments and without comparing. We relate to trials and take turns lifting each other up. Even after doing the day to day work that comes with a small company we always come back to what Be Bona Fide stands for and how happy it has made our lives. Be Bona Fide has allowed us to dive into our own trails and has helped us get over that “perfect” image that society promotes. After we launched Be Bona Fide we both saw our worlds in a different light and our relationship so much deeper because of it.

How would you describe the “Be Bona Fide girl”?
The “Be Bona Fide girl’ is anyone who is looking to find happiness. Anyone who is open and ready to share their story. Be Bona Fide is for everyone because we are all going through a trail no matter how big or small. If you are willing to open up and get vulnerable than you are a “Be Bona Fide girl”.

Photos & words by Gillian Cohen
Originally published in Pulse Spikes – No. 002. 


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