Meet Candice Gonzales: Former RDF Intern Turned Small Business Owner
Once a part of the RDF team, you’re always a member of the Familia! That’s why we love reconnecting with our former interns. In the spirit of National Women’s Small Business Month, we are proud to cheer on Candice Gonzales, owner of the House of RemiRose bridal boutique. She interned for three summers, and she is now a part of the South Phoenix small business owner community.
“I am very proud of her and what she’s accomplished,” shares Star Reyes, RDF’s Client Services Manager, Candice’s intern supervisor. “She’s a fighter and I am so glad to have had her as my intern.”
A young leader in 8th grader, Candice was the organizer for Rosalinda Elementary’s career day. As luck, or fate, would have it, Tom Espinoza, RDF’s President & CEO, accepted the invitation to support and inspire local youth at this event. This made Candice, Tom’s buddy for the day. An aspiring activist, Candice took the opportunity to ask Tom questions about his work in the community. A mentor, mentee relationship instantly blossomed, and Candice joined the RDF Familia that summer.
“I enjoyed just being around Tommy and learning everything he could teach me,” Candice says. “The internship gave me a lot of opportunities I would’ve never had, like traveling. It was a blessing.”
For the next three summers, Candice traveled with RDF to UnidosUS, then known as National Council La Raza, conferences. She learned more about RDF’s impact across the nation, developed her leadership skills and even strengthened her speaking skills.
Spanish was her first language, and while Candice was fluent in English the RDF team helped her boost her confidence and improve her public speaking skills. Star created a word box for her where each day she would have to pick out a random word and deliver a speech to the team.
“I wanted her to know how important it was to have confidence in herself and communicate without the ums and ands,” Star explains.
This training paid off! Candice presented a poem during a youth summit and won the poetry contest.
“They did a lot for me. They helped me build my leadership skills. Tommy is the first mentor I had in my life, and I can’t thank him and the RDF team enough,” Candice says.
Becoming a Business Owner
Fast forward over 10 years later, Candice is now a creative confident entrepreneur. In the summer of 2021, she made the bold decision to open her bridal boutique House of RemiRose.
This career path was an easy choice for Candice.
She grew up with a very creative family that taught her how to turn anything into something. From her maternal grandmother, a master seamstress, Candice learned how to hand sew. From there she sketched and drew designs from a very young age, even designed the dress for her own 8th grade promotion ceremony.
After earning a degree in fashion design, Candice worked for a boutique in North Phoenix. When the owner decided to retire, Candice received a special gift – a year’s worth of inventory to follow her dreams and start her own business.
She now leases a space at Alborada Village, a wedding venue near Central Avenue and Baseline Road in South Phoenix. Though her boutique sits along the light rail construction, her clients find her easily as they explore the wedding venue.
Future brides can picture their wedding day and meander over to House of RemiRose to find the perfect dress. Candice sells a variety of dress styles off the rack – a less expensive option that caters to her clientele – and offers alterations.
“I tell my clients we’ll make it fit for you. That’s what sets me apart,” Candice explains.
Candice also collaborated with her childhood friend, Ciera Garcia, and opened a glam studio in the boutique’s basement called The Vault. This way brides visiting the shop can get their hair and makeup done on site to give them an idea for their actual wedding day. It’s a one stop shop for all their bridal needs.
“I create an experience. It’s an experience for women to shop for something that marks the beginning of their new life. I take pride in that,” Candice says. “I want to stay a small, private and exclusive boutique.”
And she’s still designing. This December, Candice plans to launch her own line of wedding gown designs in a fashion show she’ll host at the Alborada Village.
She’s just starting out, but her motivation is high.
We are so proud of Candice and look forward to watching her small business thrive.