Chalupa: A skater clothing brand rooted in community and culture in Little Village



Gerado Arroyo, the ownder of Chalupa, shows off his homemade t-shirts.

For entrepreneur Gerardo Arroyo Carrillo, Chalupa is more than just a skater clothing brand. It is a representation of the united community that has been built over the years at a local park in Little Village.

Arroyo Carrillo said the brand’s name originated from a nickname that a skateboarding friend gave him.

“I heard it and found it funny, but a few days later, I started calling everyone by that name, Chalupa,” Arroyo Carrillo said. “It was like a way of greeting, saying goodbye to someone or just a nickname.”

The name is rooted in friendship, but it was not until he saw the potential of a clothing brand that could bring everyone together at Little Village Park that Chalupa became “something bigger,” according to Ninel Jerónimo, events assistant for the brand.

“This brand is authentic because he has managed to bring other creators together to be apart of his events, and has pushed others to also start something that will represent them,” Jerónimo said.

Although Arroyo Carrillo was born in Reno, Nevada, he said that the community he found in Chicago has sustained his passion for skateboarding over the past 11 years.

“The main goal was to bring people together, whether they were skateboarders or just artists in general,” Arroyo Carrillo said. “Everyone is welcome to support this brand and be part of it too.”

Arroyo Carrillo’s cultural identity as a Mexican American skater is also important to Chalupa’s aesthetic and graphic designs.

Local skateboarder Brandon Muñoz, his designs are “awesome.”

Arroyo Carrillo creates all his designs on his iPhone, where he says he has the ability to carefully perfect his ideas and add the “flavor of my Hispanic culture.”

When time allows, Arroyo Carrillo also enjoys organizing events in front of his house where he sells his clothing while people enjoy pozole, tacos and tinga prepared by his mom.

“I started organizing these events to bring people together,” Arroyo Carrillo said. “By building a community, we support each other. I welcome other vendors and create a space where they can showcase their talents.”

However, navigating the streetwear and skate industry as a Latino artist and entrepreneur has not always been easy due to a lack of resources.

“If I had all the resources and support to express my true vision, I know I would definitely amaze many human beings in this world and in Chicago,” Arroyo Carrillo said. “But, of course, that’s why we’re here, doing whatever it takes to get one step closer to finding more opportunities for ourselves and constantly benefiting from them.”

With the support of his family and friends, the young entrepreneur has been able to stay focused on his goal of creating a community through the brand and takes inspiration from his skate idols like DGK and Paul Rodriguez to continue nurturing his creativity.

“I’m really proud of everyone here in the city of Chicago and around the world who are pushing their artwork and talent,” Arroyo Carrillo said. “That’s what Chalupa is about: taking risks, having fun and bringing people together.”