Hispanic Heritage: Waco’s “Quinceañera Store”

Hispanic Heritage Month

WACO, Texas – For over 20 years, a local family-owned boutique has helped keep a long-time Hispanic tradition alive in Central Texas.

Vanessa’s Boutique is making girls dreams a reality in Waco by offering Quinceañera dresses in all types of styles and colors.

As the times change, they have found a way to keep this Hispanic rite of passage ever-evolving to fit their customers’ needs.

“It symbolizes a little girl turning into a young woman and remembering to continue to walk in faith and to hold on to her tradition, hold on to her Hispanic traditions, and what her parents taught her,” said Vanessa Carrillo, Co-Owner of Vanessa’s Boutique.

Carrillo is the Co-Owner of Vanessa’s Boutique in Waco, known to many in the community as the “Quinceañera Store.” She says it all started with a dream.

“My mom always wanted to have a business coming to the United States with literally nothing. She and my father just worked really hard, and they had a dream to own their own business one day,” said Carrillo.

It’s a one-stop shop offering everything a Quinceañera could want for her big day.

“We will sell the dress, the crown, the tiara, the bouquet, as well as the Bible, rosary, photo album, the signature book, and your last doll,” said Carrillo.

The history of the Quinceañera dates back to the 1500s, and is still popular today in Mexico, the U.S., South America and many other Spanish-speaking countries.

“This means something special that you will always have in your memory. You’re going to be wearing a big dress, and a lot of family, a lot of friends are going to be around you,” said Clarissa Beltran, future Quinceañera.

Right now, Clarissa and Jacqueline Perez are both planning their Quinceañeras for next year. They say they can’t wait to celebrate such an important day.

“I feel good, and I feel proud of myself. Because I feel like I deserve it, and my parents worked really hard for this day coming up,” said Perez.

Both are including common Hispanic traditions in their big day with a modern flair.

“The original tradition is changing from your flats to heels, but lately it’s been changing from your flats to boots,” said Carrillo.

Just like traditions are getting modernized, the dress has also evolved to the colorful gown it is today.

“Dresses in the Quinceañera world have changed tremendously. When I had my Quinceañera many, many years ago, my dress was white. It was traditional. It has evolved from that, to pastel colors are introduced like the lilacs, the pinks, the baby blues, light yellows, a little bit, and then it went into a fashion of hot pink, lime green, purple royal blue, and then its changed from that over to more blush, more neutral tones, lighter tones,” said Carrillo.

One thing that has stayed the same throughout the decades is the size.

“Definitely the bigger the better is definitely what’s in style,” said Carrillo.

This is not the only thing that’s big.

“For the most part, most dresses start usually at about $600 to $800, and they can go up from there up to probably like $1,500,” said Carrillo.

All to help make a young girl’s princess dreams come true.

“It brings a lot of joy for sure. Because I know that for me, a Quinceañera was a tradition. It’s something that I looked forward to since I was child. It’s humbling, and it’s exciting and it makes you feel good that you are able to help somebody with something. That you made a difference,” said Carrillo.

Carrillo compares Quinceañera planning to wedding planning in an event that will set families back thousands of dollars. She says the best time to start looking for a dress is two years in advance.

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