Introducing our first article from our new series We Are Long Beach. This is a community based series that seeks to highlight the incredible diversity and community spirit of our city.
Maythe Alderete-Gonzalez, 22, may be a first-time small business owner, but it’s not the first time she has worked to open a small business. A few years ago, her father started a billboard installation business with a friend.
“Him and his business partner actually had no idea how to even start one. I helped them set up their QuickBooks, I helped them set up their invoices. I taught them a lot of stuff,” Gonzalez said. “I had no idea how to do that. I had zero experience creating a domain or an email. But I figured it out and I was able to help them build the business.”
Now, she has taken that experience and created her own business, LBC Masks. But starting a new business is only one of Gonzalez’s many endeavors. Like she did for her father, she has always found ways to contribute and give back to her communities.
Gonzalez was born in Cuautla, Morelos Mexico, but she was raised in Long Beach, CA. She wasn’t interested in college before she applied to CSULB, but decided to apply after her oldest sibling encouraged her to do so. Once there, she discovered the drive that continues to inspire her to action. Her major, women’s gender and sexuality studies, lit the flame for her.
“I like this [major] because it’s a lot of dismantling things that we learn growing up,” she said in a previous interview. “Those are things that I want to carry with myself, always.”
As a CSULB student, she did what she could to dismantle barriers that attempted to hold her back. She held multiple leadership positions in the student association including Vice President of Board of Directors and Chief Diversity Officer. She was secretary, then president of the student club, For Undocumented Empowered Leaders. And she organized a variety of events for the campus undocumented, Latinx and LGBTQ+ communities.
Over the summer of 2020, that drive to help kicked in once again. This time her focus was wider than the school campus.
“The idea came about with the whole BLM uprising and folks just being aware of social injustices,” she said. “Me and my older sibling wanted to donate but obviously we didn’t have money.”
To raise money, she found her sewing machine and leftover fabric from a sewing class she took in 2018. Soon, she had set up an assembly line outside their house with the help of her sibling and her mother.
“We would sit outside and just have platicas outside between the three of us. I’d be sewing and they’d be helping me by preparing the fabric,” she said.
The first masks went up for sale on July 5, 2020. By August 15, LBC masks had raised $1,000. The entirety of those funds were donated to the Long Beach chapter of Black Lives Matter, as well as the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition.
After that first round of mask sales, the fundraiser became a business. Gonzalez continues to donate 10% of all proceeds to organizations like The LGBTQ Center Long Beach and The Trayvon Martin Foundation. She also donates directly to undocumented individuals and families. The rest of the proceeds are used for her mother’s medical expenses.
Going forward LBC Masks will be expanding their inventory to include a larger variety of mask designs, as well as pet bandanas, leashes, and other products.
Gonzalez’s primary goal with LBC Masks is to continue to give back to her community.
“Continuing to make an impact, even if it’s a small donation, but knowing that it allows folks to continue the work they are doing,” she said. “The biggest thing to me is being able to provide folks with safety and also trying to be joyful about it too.”