#SWAAYthenarrative

How I Harnessed Mexican Culture To Create A New Digital Shopping Experience

Business

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.

3 Min Read
Lifestyle

Tempted To Dial Your Ex: 5 Ways To Know Whether Or Not You Should Contact An Old Flame

Thinking of ringing up your ex during these uncertain times? Maybe you want an excuse to contact your ex, or maybe you genuinely feel the need to connect with someone on an emotional level. As a matchmaker and relationship expert, I was surprised at the start of the coronavirus quarantine when friends were telling me that they were contacting their exes! But as social distancing has grown to be more than a short-term situation, we must avoid seeking short-term solutions—and resist the urge to dial an ex.

It stands to reason that you would contact an ex for support. After all, who knows you and your fears better than an ex? This all translates into someone who you think can provide comfort and support. As a matchmaker, I already know that people can spark and ignite relationships virtually that can lead to offline love, but lonely singles didn't necessarily believe this or understand this initially, which drives them straight back to a familiar ex. You only need to tune into Love Is Blind to test this theory or look to Dina Lohan and her virtual boyfriend.

At the start of lockdown, singles were already feeling lonely. There were studies that said as much as 3 out of 4 people were lonely, and that was before lockdown. Singles were worried that dating someone was going to be off limits for a very long time. Now when you factor in a widespread pandemic and the psychological impact that hits when you have to be in isolation and can't see anyone but your takeout delivery person, we end up understanding this urge to contact an ex.

So, what should you do if you are tempted to ring up an old flame? How do you know if it's the wrong thing or the right thing to do in a time like this? Check out a few of my points before deciding on picking up that phone to text, much less call an ex.

Before You Dial The Ex...

First, you need to phone a friend! It's the person that got you through this breakup to begin with. Let them remind you of the good, the bad and the ugly before taking this first step and risk getting sucked back in.

What was the reason for your breakup? As I mentioned before, you could get sucked back in… but that might not be a bad thing. It depends; when you phoned that friend to remind you, did she remind you of good or bad things during the breakup? It's possible that you both just had to take jobs in different cities, and the breakup wasn't due to a problem in the relationship. Have these problems resolved if there were issues?

You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you.

Depending on the reason for the breakup, set your boundaries for how much contact beforehand. If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

If you know you shouldn't be contacting this ex but feel lonely, set up a support system ahead of time. Set up activities or things to fall back on to resist the urge. Maybe you phone a different friend, join a virtual happy hour for singles, or binge watch Netflix. Anything else is acceptable, but don't phone that ex.

Write down your reasons for wanting to contact the ex. Ask yourself if this is worth the pain. Are you flea-bagging again, or is there a friendship to be had, which will provide you with genuine comfort? If it's the latter, it's okay to go there. If it's an excuse to go back together and make contact, don't.

Decide how far you are willing to take the relationship this time, without it being a rinse and repeat. If you broke up for reasons beyond your control, it's okay. If your ex was a serial cheater, phone a friend instead.

If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

As life returns to a more normal state and you adjust to the new normal, we will slowly begin to notice more balance in our lives. You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you. Some do's and don'ts for this time would be:

  • Do: exercise ⁠— taking care of you is important during this time. It's self-care and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: shower, brush your teeth, and get out of your sweats.
  • Don't: be a couch potato.
  • Don't: drink or eat excessively during this time. Again, remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: think positive thoughts everyday and write down the 3 things you are grateful for. Look at the impact of John Krasinksi's SGN. It's uplifting and when you feel good, you won't want to slide backwards.
  • Don't: contact a toxic ex. It's a backward move in a moment of uncertainty that could have a long term impact. Why continue flea bagging yourself?