We had the good fortune of connecting with Manuela Fernández Bañados and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Manuela, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Taking risks was always one of my weaknesses. My life was calm and balanced before I decided to leave my native country, Chile, and come to Barcelona to invent my way. I think that what prompted me to take the risk of total failure was just that, to put myself to the test; The thrill of reinventing myself or making a difference in the world I live in. Starting a business is not easy, especially if you lack networks, but like almost everything in life, it can be trained and improved. Something that I have learned that can be controversial is that taking risks is not for everyone. It is not a basic requirement for success and it does not always work out well. What I can assure you is that life becomes exciting, vibrant and full of spaces in which to pour imagination and creativity.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am a person of slow but profound changes. That has characterized my transition to working on my own and creating an enterprise in an area of knowledge that just a few years ago was totally alien to me. Somehow, bees caught my attention and I saw how much we could learn from their dynamics, from their timing, from their vigor, but above all, from their work as a complex community. I think that something that makes me very proud is precisely having created a community of people who, connected to each other or not, share the same intrigue and interest in bees and the complex symbiosis that exists between them and flowering plants. There is so much that we do not know and that instead of depressing me, it encourages me to continue discovering. Our venture, Zuhari, is just about that, to recover the capacity for wonder in the face of phenomena that cross our eyes every day and that shape the world as we know it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am going to pretend that I am in Chile. The place I know best and the best moments it has given me. I am going to divide the trip into three, because Chile is very large and diverse. The first stop would be in the north, where we will probably eat the best seafood on the continent, bathe in empty beaches and learn to recognize and enjoy the subtle color palette that the deep desert has. Second stop, the central area, with Valparaíso and its hills in full unprecedented artistic explosion. Then Santiago, full of culture and revolution. I would surely take you to eat at La Vega, the largest food fair in the city where we will find typical dishes at popular prices. Last but not least, the south. The beloved Patagonia and its thousand greens. For me, the best place to soak up nature, water and biodiversity. Here I would let us be carried away by destiny, waiting for some old lady to indiscriminately open the door of her home to us so that we could “tomar once” (take an afternoon snack) with kneaded bread and homemade jam.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
It may sound a bit corny, but I think that my greatest inspiration is nature itself and to my mom and dad who succeeded in exposing me to nature with the greatest of affection and dedication. Nature makes me hallucinate, inspires me, makes me feel small and part of something. I feel a deep admiration for the different techniques or mechanisms that species have to thrive in the world; their tenacity, resourcefulness, breadth and collaboration are just some of the qualities that I believe we should foster in our social animal, Society. I think one of the best decisions I’ve made was to study a Geography degree. There, I learned that humanity and nature are within the same gear where causes and consequences often intermingle, so sharpening the gaze is the only way to coexist in a harmonious and synergistic way.
Catalina Serra Alonso Navarro