How I Harnessed Mexican Culture To Create A New Digital Shopping Experience How I Harnessed Mexican Culture To Create A New Digital Shopping Experience 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. Paola de la Rosa 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. Photo Courtesy of Lazo 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. Paola de la Rosa Paola studied law at Iberoamericana University. In 2006, she collaborated as a Human Rights volunteer for CEDIAC. Since 2007, she has participated in various projects focused on creating avenues of commercialization to popularize indigenous art, working with indigenous women in traditional textile art.