Our mission is inspired by a love of handmade goods, traditional textiles and a commitment to ethical and sustainable production practices. The majority of our artisans in Guatemala are women. These women are survivors of the Guatemalan Civil War and face institutionalized discrimination and poverty. Despite these circumstances, they have resilient spirits and a deep love for their craft. By employing these artisans we can help them break the cycle of poverty and preserve their beautiful Mayan textile traditions.
What have been the greatest challenges?
Starting a business in a developing country is a challenge in itself. Occurrences such as roads being left un-passable due to lack of infrastructure make simple tasks more complicated. Going through the process of product design and developing a supply chain in another country means sometimes facing unexpected limitations and navigating an unfamiliar bureaucracy. These challenges have been valuable learning experiences though as Julie and I have had to become more flexible and more resourceful.
What have been the greatest rewards?
Being able to express my creativity, design a product and see it come to life is really wonderful. I also value the opportunity to advocate for ethical and sustainable business and production practices in the fashion industry. However the greatest reward is being able to give work to people that desperately need it.
What life experiences have shaped who you are?
When I was in college I did an internship with The Hemp Trading Company in London. It was inspiring to see a small business in the sustainable fashion industry from the inside. I saw that it is possible to have a positive effect on the world, even if you’re a small business. Living abroad that summer and having the opportunity to visit several countries was an enriching and enlightening experience. While people may come from very different places and cultures, we all have so much in common. When you can identify not just as a person from your own country, but as a member of the human family, then you want to do what you can to change systems that are unjust.
Who do you admire and respect?
My father is a small business-owner in my hometown of St. Augustine, Florida. He built his business from the ground up and is a true entrepreneur. I am in awe of his ingenuity and his work ethic. I would not have been able to contribute to Estrella de Mar as effectively without his example and advice.
What advise do you have for aspiring Eco-Entrepreneurs?
Julie and I are still on the road of making Estrella de Mar a success. I would encourage any aspiring eco-entrepreneurs to have perseverance because making your dreams a reality and changing the status quo is not an easy process. However, the world needs more people who will make sustainability a priority in their businesses and use business for good.
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Photo credit: Jasmine Luoma