Designing a Future “Más Buena”

Valentina Varela in Storrs Gallery with her BFA thesis project.
Monday, December 4, 2023
December graphic design graduate Valentina Varela is designing wellness for women.

This is the second December in a row that a member of Valentina Varela’s family has graduated from UNC Charlotte. Last year, her brother, Juan, received a B.S.B.A. in Finance and a B.A. in Spanish. This December, it’s Valentina’s turn.

Valentina was 15 when her family moved from her native Colombia to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. While she had always been good at art, it was at R.J. Reynolds High School, where she won an art contest, that a teacher encouraged her to pursue it as a career. After attending Forsyth Tech Community College, she transferred to UNC Charlotte in Fall 2020 and will graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, a Minor in Art History and a Professional Certificate in Digital Marketing Science.

“What I like about the graphic design program is that it lets you be a multidisciplinary creative,” Valentina says, adding that she has acquired skills in areas such as photography and 3D modeling. And, she says, her tightknit cohort truly functions as a team.

“My classmates and I, we give each other feedback and help each other with projects. We combine all of our talents and help each other out.”

The culmination of the BFA in Graphic Design program is the senior thesis and exhibition. Taught by Associate Professor of Graphic Design Bobby Campbell, students are challenged to identify a community organization or a social issue that they are passionate about and design a wide range of materials to support that community or address the issue. The collective work of the graduates (this semester there are 12) is presented in a public exhibition in the College of Arts + Architecture’s Lambla Gallery.

Valentina’s senior thesis is called “Más Buena,” and it is “a project made to empower Latina moms,” she says.

“In the Latino community, once you become a mom, they enclose you in that role. It’s hard for women to then make themselves seen as women, because they are considered just moms.”

For the project, Valentina interviewed and photographed eight Latina mothers to hear directly from them how they feel and what they need. “Más  Buena” is the marketing of an app that connects users to other Latina mothers in their geographic area and to resources such as wellness and fitness programs.

“Latina moms don’t really have a community. Some don’t know English well and don’t know where to find resources.”

a billboard ad for the "Mas Buena" app

An advertising mock-up for the “Más Buena” app, created by Valentina Varela for her senior thesis project. Valentina photographed the mother and child to create the ad.

In January of 2023, Valentina began an internship at UCS Spirit, an athletic equipment manufacturer in Lincolnton, North Carolina, which she continued the full calendar year. The company has offered her a fulltime position upon graduation. She also sells supplements and wellness products as a wholesale Amazon seller.

“Looking forward as a designer, my ultimate vision is to craft and sell a unique line of supplements and wellness goods specifically designed for women. Leveraging my design experience, I'm not just aiming to create the brand but also to design packages, manage social media, and apply all the lessons I've learned in school. Interestingly, this aligns with my senior thesis project, where I'm exploring products like the visualization board, notepads and other related items that I'm planning to offer. It's all part of the journey toward establishing my own brand in the wellness industry.”

Valentina Varela in the gallery with her senior thesis project

Valentina Varela in the Lambla Gallery with her senior thesis project, "Más Buena." Photo by Amy Hart.

This article is one of a series spotlighting December graduates across the University.