Business 06 November 2017
For 12 years I´ve dedicated my life to creating job opportunities for indigenous artisans in Mexico. When I started my first project everybody thought I was set to fail; people didn´t understand why I was building a company whose success relied upon the commitment of indigenous people.
I can assure you that every artisan I have worked with has demonstrated themselves to be hard working people, always searching for better opportunities for their family. Unfortunately, for many artisans in Mexico better opportunities don't present themselves and many struggle to make a living relying on their craftsmanship.
From this came LAZO, a company incubated by Grupo AtomiCo which enables social entrepreneurs that create high impact projects to change the world, a consumer-facing platform we created with artisans in mind. Its goal to preserve Mexican culture and vibrancy and connect artisans with the final consumer. In 2016 we started this new initiative so today's consumer could experience artisanal craftsmanship as we do. Working with different artisans, their locales dotting the expanse of Mexico, we created a basis for individuals who do not have access to the proper resources to justly expand their business and artistic vision, providing tools for eventual realization by global audiences. With an industry bent on diversifying product and utilizing “authenticity" as a selling point, it's of ever-growing importance to support the makers of artisan pieces.
Photo courtesy of Lazo
Fueled by my passion for social justice and cultural integrity, LAZO's combined site-and-service platform is very close to my heart. After receiving my law degree from the Universidad Iberoamericana, I have worked hard to preserve the freedoms and cultural integrity of my homeland. During my time as a volunteer for human rights with the Centro De Derechos Indigenas A.C. (CEDIAC), I learned the struggles the indigenous population faced daily and the importance of protecting their way of life, their contributions a necessity to the lifeblood of the region. After dwelling within this consistent injustice, I re-centered my focus and distributed my time among the women of these sectors through traditional textile art. From there, my interest only grew, and I threw myself into social change, founding the Fundación Arroz con Leche and manning Fábrica Social for five years.
With fuel in my heart, and the support of Grupo AtomiCo, I sought to start LAZO. After the initial plan was set, we invited five artisans who have been recognized for their talent and who are experts in their respected craft, whether traditional doll making, paper cutting, or wooden toy design.
Once we had our creatives, we needed a home, and the natural space for an initiative like this revealed itself as e-commerce. As weeks passed, the word started spreading and more artisans wanting to be part of the platform, which was so exciting for us, and artisans have started to experience the benefits of e-commerce and more want to join LAZO. This allows each artisan to create and be the protagonist of their own story.
Prior to LAZO, we noticed that many competitors in this field bore an inherent flaw; those that crafted the products would see low returns, while individuals marketing the pieces as resale would reap the benefits. To flatten this disparity, we gave the artisans complete and total control at LAZO.
They set the price, eliminating the frustrating habit of price-bargaining the craftsmen, so they could value their time and practice as they saw fit. They influence the market, rather than the market influencing them. From the beginning, we wanted the artisans to focus solely on their craft, which is why we developed a singular method to oversee the corporate process in its entirety, from marketing to business infrastructure. We provided services to our artisans that our competitors did not – an unrestricted portal for direct producer-to-consumer purchasing.
At LAZO, our goal to pair Mexican artistry with the potential of technology that has bridged the historical with the modern under one common theme.
In order to assure this mission, however, we knew we had to get our customers on board. We had secured the artisans and the platform, but translating the message and our hopeful preservation of Mexican authenticity to an audience of varying backgrounds became an interesting task. Mexico is naturally beautiful, and what I love most about my country is its passion. It's my own desire that the rest of the world witness what this culture can truly offer when put to the task, an ideal visible in the artisans' own work as well as our commitment to their prosperity. After much deliberation, we soon realized the only way for this to happen was to bring the world to Mexico, so we planned LAZO's first destination-getaway, the upcoming PURO experience.
As an avid traveler, with Mexico understandably providing most of my wanderlust, my hope is that this initiative will reveal the culture's magic to individuals as it did to me–a vibrantly rich community with much to offer.
Throughout the trip, ticket holders will see the beauty of Oaxaca that inspired my work in LAZO. From rare organ concerts, to a show of Calenda dolls, to an exquisite meal by Chef Eduardo “Lalo" Garcia – the trip is a complete offering of the region, a project we are thrilled to see come to fruition. Just the first of many to come, PURO is a true culmination of my experience and of the culture that continues to inspire my creativity and dedication.
My enduring dream for LAZO is to allow our artisans, as well as Mexico itself, the global recognition that they deserve through quality business management and commercial success. In providing standard business services for the sixteen artisans, LAZO is already improving the lifestyle of those surrounding their work. In the coming years, we hope to grow this exponentially, nurturing and protecting the quality production of this country under our cumulative umbrella. In garnering awareness of these art forms and of the hands behind their creation, we can truly cause a disruptive presence in the world of fashion. My past showed me the importance of artisan culture and how hard it fights for its own success. Now, with LAZO, I finally have the resources to do something about it.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."