*The intention of these blogposts are done to share my story about my journey toward sustainable production and working with artisans in developing countries. By sharing the challenges that arise along the way I hope that it will help other designers and brands with there own personal path toward sustainable, high quality production*
I began working with artisans in Mexico about 1 year ago today, I had fallen out of my production partnership in Canada due to my growth and I needed to work with people who were talented but also committed to the growth of my brand. What Jolie Laide aims to accomplish is simply not easy; high quality leather goods, sustainably made in small batches oh and my products are innovative. They haven’t been done before and majority of them are not easy to produce due to the complexity of the detail. I was in for quite the ride.
Fast forward to July 2017 – Since 2014 I have gone through 2-3 leather manufacturers 1 in Canada and 1 in Mexico and now I’m on my third also in Mexico. After having some problems for the last year with communication, production, quality control and pricing – I have decided to move forward with different artisans and I think I have finally found the perfect match.
One thing I have learned as I grow is that you have to establish good foundations. You have to make sure that what your building on is secure enough to handle your growth. If one has rocky foundations, your focus is always two steps behind you instead of what’s next. Looking ahead is what the designers true job should be. What I mean by foundations is not only production, but your mentality and the systems you have in place to keep you focused. The more you learn and the more control you have over your path, the better you can deal with set backs – and there will naturally be many.
When I went to Mexico my intention was to help improve my current production and my relationship with my artisans but things didn’t work out that way. I realized unfortunately we weren’t on the same page and I was devastated. As I went around to meet other showrooms, artisans and production houses I kept a very open mind. I knew from experience you really never knew where help would come from.
I met Eduardo and his business Toro Bravo in one meeting – and the irony is that I was really defeated that day in that meeting and didn’t pay much attention to working with him or his team. Yet, after walking around his production house I realized how much his workspace and artisans inspired me and I took some photos. I told him my goal was to tell their stories – to share the hard work and art that goes into each and every product. The artisans looked so happy – the space they worked in was beautiful and I knew that I would love to visit them year after year.
In the end I finally choose to start working with Eduardo and his team and right away he taught me about leather cost and labour pricing. So many details I wish I knew from the start. Yet, none of this could have been accomplished without the help of an organization called Cofoce. They set me up with an assistant named Erika (Pictured above) who drove me to all my appointments and helped with all my translations – it would have been impossible with out her help and assistance.
Over all it was an amazing trip and I feel very thankful to have had the opportunity to finally understand more about artisanal leather craftsmanship and Mexican culture. My world has opened up so much. When I was in Leon I also had the opportunity to visit San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel is a beautiful old colonial town that has a thriving arts and music scene, stay tuned for a blogpost on that vv soon!
Thank you so much for following along on my journey, theres’ always more to come.