Startup Stories: From Fifth Avenue to rural Mexico

A family of weavers working on the loom in their home in Chiapas, Mexico

Tell us about your product or service.
Chiapas Bazaar offers artisanal products, including Mayan textiles, handpicked organic coffee, handmade leather goods, traditional blouses and contemporary home decor from the master artisans of the Mexican state of Chiapas. All of our products are handmade using local materials from the southern region of Mexico.

What inspired you to launch your business?
Chiapas Bazaar has blended two important parts of my professional life. For 10 years, I worked in the luxury goods industry in New York City for Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey. Later, I volunteered in the Peace Corps in the Republic of Moldova. I was inspired to start Chiapas Bazaar because I saw these amazing pieces of art that were being created here in Chiapas and I wanted to share it with the world. I recognized the quality worksmanship and the knew there would be a market for fashion-minded socially conscious consumers. Most importantly ,I wanted the artisans to be paid a fair wage for their wares. I wanted these traditions (especially backstrap weaving) to be carried on. Without economic opportunity, younger generations are not as interested as continuing the traditions of their ancestors.

What problem does your business or organization solve?
We bridge the gap between consumers searching for ethically made, yet stylistically relevant items and talented rural artisans with limited market-share. Rural areas of Chiapas are economically deprived therefore many villagers will leave their homes and their small towns in order to move to larger cities to earn a decent income. One of the goals of our initiative to create economic opportunities in these villages so that workers can continue their artisan traditions in their homes with their families.

What has been your biggest challenge and how are you working to overcome it?
Creating an effective production model that will respect the customs and traditions of the indigenous rural artisans. We are adapting our production expectations in order to accommodate the traditional lifestyle of the artisans. They weave or create when they have time, when they are not working in the fields or around the house.

Give us one word that people might use to describe you.

How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
We refer to the great resources about social media marketing, SEO, and online marketing on Project Eve. The tips and advice we have found here has been invaluable for our online development.

Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry.
Sometimes artisans will sell at a very low price just so they can put food on their table that night, losing money on their supplies and cost of labor. Please be very conscientious of this when negotiating prices in markets

Company: Chiapas Bazaar


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