Design, crafts and a lot of heart


I love to look for new stores, innovative products and creative designers. Few days ago I went to a place here in Mexico City called Bazar Fusion, which is relatively new and its the house of many local designers that have art craft products with very original designs. Hanging around the bazar, I found amazing stores, and among the ones that catch my attention was one with super original and colorful designs, the store of Mina Álvarez.

 

The store belongs to the Mexican designer Mina Álvarez, who has a solid trajectory for more than 30 years in the fashion world. Ten years ago, she visited Chiapas and fell in love with the colors and the feeling of the area, the soul of the culture, and specially after knowing Antonia, the first craftswoman that later will become her friend and business partner. After that, she decided to launch her clothing line called like her … Mina Álvarez.

 

One of the objectives of this brand is to support economically and socially the 65 craftswomen from Chiapas at the communities of Zincantán, San Juan Chamula, Larráinzar and Comitán.

Mina Álvarez has two members, Mina and her daughter Mariana Trigos. Mariana has a Communications Degree, a Marketing Master, and is a key member in the company, since she’s the Commercial Director and the manager of the store in Mexico City.

 

I had the chance of interviewing Mariana, who told me more about this amazing brand and the important contribution that they are doing to the craftswomen in Chiapas.

1. How does Mina Álvarez started?
Ten years ago, my mum fell in love with Chiapas textiles and started to used them in her creations but in a way that will exalt the work of the craftswomen, using leather and other high quality materials. With time, they have created a craftswomen group, especially in the communities of Zinacantan, San Juan Chamula, Larráinzar and Comitán.
The launch of the collection was in a gallery, but from there people get to knew their work and later they open their first store in San Cristobal de las Casas. The local government play a very important role in this launch because they supported the brand giving them the Chiapas Brand distinctive which only is given to those who produce materials 100% made in Chiapas. Ovidio Cortazar Ramos, Economics Secretary and Rómulo Farrera Escudero, President council of the Brand Chiapas assisted to the inauguration of the store.

 

2. Is this was a social project since the very beginning?
Yes, I believe it was a project that was social and creative, my mum loves all the work that make the craftswomen, and she has always loved helping people, specially this kind of work. She helps people, giving them support and buying there work through their community leaders that coordinate the others craftswomen.

 

3. How did you start the business relationship with the 65 craftswomen?
It was little by little that she met the craftswomen, she went to the Santo Domingo’s market and she talked with them in their posts, convincing them to start the project. The natives take great care about their culture and their customs, but they let my mum to get into their lives and help them. It is so beautiful. Almost all of the craftswomen use back straps looms, everything that they do is textile work, it´s high quality work.

 

4. Are you going to help more craftswomen?
If they want to join us, we will be very happy, actually we will like to have the 65 women in a factory, but today it is not like that. Actually they don’t need you, they already have a lot of work and they sell them in a fair price, it is not good to bargain, they charge what it worth, it’s a lot of hard work.

 

5. How do you help these communities?
We help them buying their products, some times we buy their designs, some times we ask them to do certain job, my mum teach them some combinations and give them new ideas, they appreciate it and thank her for helping them. That’s how we help them, it’s not about giving them food, is about creating a working team.
We also create special catwalks for charity, we give them 20% of the earnings. Next one is going to be in Guadalajara at a Hospital called “La Esperanza”, for children with cancer. We never do catwalks, for example we will never be in Fashion Week. This month we will be in Bazar Gilberto in the Hacienda de los Morales, a restaurant here in Mexico City.

 

6. Tell me about your products and which one is the best?
We have the following products:
Accessories: bags (30 models), suitcases, wallets, necklaces.
Women: shawl, coats, vests.
Men: watch boxes, wine boxes, wallets.
The star product is the flower shawl, then the bags and the coats.

7. Everything is hand made? Which materials do you use?
Textil from Chiapas, back strap looms, hand paintwork, and the leather is from a Mexican sheep. All the materials have textile and had paintwork, which is made her in Mexico City.

8. What is your main inspiration source?
My inspiration is on the soul, on the love for the textile from Chiapas, the colors the smell. The love of Mexican design, because my mum not only worked with craftswomen from Chiapas, she also worked with people form Oaxaca and Pakime (Chihuahua).

 

9. Why are you different from the competitors?
A lot of things, our product has soul, quality and design. A lot of people try to copy us, but they don’t have our feeling that we have. We take care of the details; everything is handmade, high quality work.
Our product is for people that want and can pay for them, people who appreciate the textile work, although we are not expensive, in Fonart we are number one in sales. Our target is very wide, it’s for all the pockets, for people who appreciate art, that’s why we call our products, textile jewelry.

10. When did you open the store here in Mexico? And in Guanajuato?
We opened the store in Mexico City this year on July, and the one in Guanajuato is not ours, it’s a gallery where we have been for a year, also in Yaruke San Miguel de Allende.

 

11. What kind of women is the one who buy your bags? What kind of personality?
The woman that buy my purses is the one that loves Mexican culture. She knows and appreciate quality products, because she can buy one expensive designer bag, or ours. What she will always have is a Mexican detail on her outfit. Price is not important for her.

 

12. Do you think your accessories are a reflex of your personality? Which one is the most important?
Yes, totally, our products are current, vanguardist and pieces of crafts, completely dynamic. The most important is the purse, secondly the necklace.

 

13. What do you think a woman should have on her purse?
Obviously a wallet (laughs), a mobile, the beauty bag, and I always carry a lot of things, the agenda, etc.

 

14. What is the ideal size of a purse?
For me the best is a big one, I have always liked big bags, here we have a lot of different sizes for all the tastes, we always take care in details, so even if it’s a small bag you will be able to put all you need inside.

15. What are your future plans?
Keep opening stores, we already have two projects for this year: Palenque and Tlaquepaque. We want to keep growing and getting closer to people, because we know that our product have a heart and people have to feel them and touch them to be able to appreciate them. We need more stores, but we have to take care where to sell our products because it cannot be a warm place, because of the materials. We usually prefer to sell to local tourists because they appreciate more our work, foreigners always look for more autochthonic products, if they see a lot of design they just don’t want to buy it. We sell in Fonart stores, and through them we are in many places. I am not really interested in internet sales, because I believe our products are to be appreciated in stores, so customers can feel them.

 

And before we finish …

 

How do you define the style in a woman? Which things define it?
She has to be current, vanguardist, with a strong emotional intelligence, a profesional, that’s how I see women. She has to appreciate art, life, colores, smells and she has to be sensitive and of course a hard worker, if not it will be difficult to survive. She has to be independent and, I don’t want to be feminist but I really believe we have to be creative.

Can you give an advice to all the entrepreneurs that are just starting?
First, and I don’t want to sound trite, but they have to believe in their dream, they have to work to make them true. We have a lot of talent in Mexico, we are rich in everything, so we need to make it a reality. They have to believe in the Mexican design, in their own design. They should put very high the Mexican culture or whatever they are doing, textile, goldsmith, etc. They have to be very proud of being Mexican, that has been great part of the success of our brand.

 

As you can see, Mina and Mariana are two amazing entrepreneur women that want to put Mexico in a very high level through their designs, colors, textures and above all putting their hearts in all they do.

 

See you soon!

 

Fabiola


Autumn Colors


Sometimes life gives us tough experiences so we can realize how strong are we, because there is always something you can learn, no matter your age … there is always something. In my case, the last two years have been so tough that more than once I just wanted to give up … thank God, amazing people stayed right by my side helping me to stand up and walk again (literally, I might say). I have opened my eyes to so many aspects of my life, I got rid of all that were not good for me, and now is time to take my pace again.

 

I want to apologize because I came back few months ago, because I thought I was ready to start again, and it was not like that … so I abandoned you for another months. I am sorry, it has been a full internal make over. Now I can say that finally I am almost over my knee injury and being healthy makes all the other things to come together.

 

So, let’s talk about more fun stuff, autumn is here so it is very important to know the colors of the season.

 

According to the Pantone Fashion Color Report, the colors that all designers will apply in their collections are the following:

 

Green Emerald, and Deep Lichen, which as you can see is a darker green, kind of military green.

Blue Mykonos

Red and Pink

Orange and Brown

Purple

Grey

As you can see there are many colorful options and a lot of designs and trends to follow, so go and enjoy this cool weather in a very fashion way.

 

See you soon!

Fabiola


Love you … love you not…


Sometimes I like to be a little philosophic, so today I will talk about love and relationships, o what I think they are. Happen to be that not long ago I saw the movie “The Notebook” and few days later I saw “Titanic”, both stories shows a loyal and very strong love, just as the one that we want to find and at least me … still looking for.

 

We all grow up thinking that “Cinderella” exists and that one day a prince in a white horse will come and rescue to take us to a wonderful castle. As you might know by now, from what I have been writing in this blog, I am not the typical romantic dreamer that believe that love is a pink story, I believe that instead of “Cinderella” love is more like “Shrek”. But I have to accept that deep down I have always believed in love and I hope to share my life with someone.

Unfortunately, my luck in love haven’t been that good, everybody seams to be perfect at the beginning and at the end it turns to be a disappointment. I already have a lot of dates, innumerable blind dates (I could write a book about it), but so far I have only fall in love two times.

 

Then the question is … does love exist? Are we all going to find the perfect couple and live happy ever after? Or we are all going to live a life full of different temporal partners, that sooner or later will disappoint us because at the end … nothing last forever. I have a friend who believes that all relationships are temporal and that we have to live the moment. Honestly I don’t agree because if you start a relationship with that in mind, then there will never be a commitment or else, don’t you think?

I know is difficult and maybe too idealistic, but I still hope to find someone like Nolan (from the Notebook) who will choose freely to be with me 100% and share our lives being loyal to each other above all. Too corny? Well … sometimes life is like that, what can I say?

And since I don’t want this to be only talk, here is some fashion from one of my favorites stores, Rapsodia (summer 2013).

 

See you soon!

Fabiola


Rainy days


We have been under water since last year, it just can’t stop raining in all the country, yesterday finally we had a sunny day but, just for a while, because in the afternoon it was raining again, and today the same.

 

If you have to walk to do your daily activities, you should take care of your shoes, and look for good options to cover and protect them and be comfortable.

 

An option that is very trendy and fashionable, are the rainy boots, but don’t imagine those as ugly or rough boots, there are very nice and cute designs, as the following examples:

For men the options are not that fun because it will look weird if you wear long rainy boots with a suit. So, you have other options, either you buy a waterproof spray for your shoes, so you protect them, or you buy waterproof shoes; the downside is that you will not find that much variety. If your look is more informal, then you will find a wide variety of options of 100% waterproof boots, but all of them are quite informal, so be aware of that.

Regarding the perfect trench coat, it is important to consider your body shape just as you do with all your other suit and coats. If you are a woman and your lower part of the body is wider than your upper part of the body, then the perfect cut is a trench coat with an A cut and knee height. It could have pockets or buttons on the upper part since that is where you will want to direct the attention.

If you have a more curvy body with waist, you can use a trench coat with belt and straight cut. If your body is wider on the upper part than the lower part, you can also use a trench coat with a belt but be sure that it will not have shoulder pads since you don’t want to put more volume on that part of your body.

As a man is easier to chose a trench coat, always go with the more common straight cut and be sure is wide enough so you can wear a suit underneath. Knee length is good for a more formal look since it covers all your clothes, but for a more informal look you can also wear a shorter trench. There are some options that has belt, but if you have a tummy stay away of them because it will not be flattering for your body.

And don’t forget to take an umbrella, take it from home and bring it back, I am specialist on leaving them at home or where ever I go, that’s why if you come home you will find a wide collection on the entrance.

 

I hope you will have an excellent, and hopefully, not that wet week.

 

See you soon!

 

Fabiola


Men shoes


What do you think every morning about Loret de Mola’s shoes?

 

If you don’t leave in Mexico, you don’t know what am I talking about, so let’s me explain a little. Loret de Mola is one of the more renowned newsperson in the country, although he’s very young, he had accomplished a lot in his area, he is very respected. The thing is that I am very surprised about his wardrobe decisions, because few months ago he started to wear this kind of shoes and socks:

I know that is every time more common to see an eclectic fashion in men and women, based on your preferences more than in fashion, and it is even more notorious when we talk about shoes. Remember that your personality is reflected in the kind of shoes you wear.

 

In the market there are a lot of different option like Cole Haan, Stacy Adams, Steve Madden and even Emyco, all of those brands are including in their portfolio shoes Boston style, with colorful laces that contrast with the color of the shoe, something like what it’s common in tennis shoes (sport shoes).

Now a days, the shoes are becoming a new accessory in your outfit, giving a fresh, innovative and fun touch, nevertheless, it’s important to consider that this kind of shoes are more proper for a casual look.

 

You have to consider the fabric; color and design of your outfit to decide what kind of shoes will be the perfect match. Usually the colorful shoes look better with kakis or jeans, meanwhile a more formal and dark shoe is suggested with a suit, especially if it is a dark color suit.

For me, Loret de Mola style doesn’t make any sense, since the colorful shoes and printed socks; don’t match with his suits that are very formal. I understand that he wants to make a personal statement, showing a rebel look on his very formal work environment, but then I think he should update his suits to be more coherent.

 

Remember that a formal or elegant look, doesn’t have to be boring or outdated. One creative way of introduce color to your suit is through your tie, there are plenty of colorful options and your look will continue be formal. A good example of that is Carlos Montero from CNN Spanish.

The happy socks (colorful socks) give a fresh touch to the men’s look, but it is important to be careful in the way you wear them, since there are a lot of extravagant colors and prints, that are for a more casual look. The rule for using socks in a formal look, is very simple, you should always wear socks matching your trousers, if you are wearing a dark suit. In those cases, the perfect shoe will be a dark color.

 

So, give color to your footsteps and find the perfect balance between fashion and your look.

 

What image do you want to project?

 

Roberto


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