We had the good fortune of connecting with Marina Laparte and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marina, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I’m from Mexico City, and from a young age, I was raised with more than one culture and tradition in my house. I loved it because it meant I was from more than one place and my identity didn’t have to match everyone else’s. My grandparents were of Spanish descent on one side of the family and all my family was born in Mexico, so in my house, I grew up learning about both Mexican traditions as well as Spanish culture that my grandma grew up with. When I was 8 years old, my family moved to Bentonville, AR in the United States, this impacted me from an early age because it added a new element of who I was becoming at a very early age. I didn’t speak much English so this became a challenge I faced and learning to adapt to a new set of norms, traditions, and language of course. By the time I was 10 my family moved to San Diego, CA, and once again I was facing a shift in who I was supposed to be. Where did I identify I was from and what place was considered home for me. Now, as an adult I’ve learned one does not have to be from a single place, growing up I felt like everywhere I went I was questioned if I was from there because I had never truly belonged to a single place. My multi-cultural upbringing combined with my childhood experiences of living in different places shaped me into being a person who doesn’t define herself by one nationality or identity. It impacted me greatly in being open to new traditions, to appreciating the culture that each place has to offer, and more than anything respecting that as people from different countries we all think, do things, and perhaps even speak differently and that is not only ok but it is part of what defines each and every person. Ultimately, I love that many places are home to me, I love that different countries have shaped me into who I am and I think that’s one of the main reasons I felt so inclined to start a company that recognizes the culture and craftsmanship that is often unseen from my native country.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I started my business in 2019 after contemplating on the idea for about a year and a half. It all began on a family trip in 2017 when I came across artisan women selling these intricate, colorful, and unique bags. Using a wooden loom, the artisans would weave recycled plastic strings for 20-40 hours to make a single bag they could then sell to provide for their families. I was enamored by the bags and the extensive yet unseen work that went into them, I knew that more people had to see this. For the next year I continued with my job and life as normal, figuring out if I should jump into the pool of entrepreneurship and create a brand to give a wider exposure to these artisans and more around the world. Our story and mission will always be our artisans and the unique items they can make, these bags can be imitated around the world but the ones handmade by artisans hold a different degree of both quality and meaning. That’s what sets us apart the most, we don’t mass produce, our items are not factory made or produced through cheap labor. We are a woman-owned business that works directly with artisan communities to ethically make and pay for their crafts and to spread their artisan products worldwide. We curate every product with our artisans to ensure that we deliver something different, of good quality, and special for our customers. We celebrate victories big or small, and at this point I would say just the fact that people all over the country have liked and purchased our products is a step we’re proud of. In terms of challenges, we face them practically every day. The biggest challenge when being a product based company is delivering the best quality and standard every time, this is often more difficult when the products are handmade. We continue to establish guidelines and quality controls that both our artisans and us as a brand follow to ensure the best products all around.
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.
We start our Friday evening with a sunset view in Del Mar, where the eagle is by Torrey Pines then some beer tasting at Viewpoint Brewing Co. in Del Mar. Then for a fun dinner, we would head to Little Italy to eat at Cloak & Petal followed by drinks at Kettner Exchange. Saturday we would start the day by hiking Torrey Pines, then heading up the coast for some donuts from VGs for breakfast and coffee from Better Buzz. During the day we would go to Balboa Park, lunch at Lucha Libre or Taco Stand, go up Mount Soledad to see the views of all San Diego, and then head down to La Jolla to walk around, buy some scones from Brick & Bell to have for tomorrow’s breakfast. Sunset from Windansea beach followed by dinner at Barbarella in La Jolla Shores. Sunday we would have a nice relaxing day hitting the beach, going to Coronado maybe renting some bikes to ride around the island, and then ending the day with dinner at Brigantine (the new one in Portside Pier to enjoy some amazing views of the bay).
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to the community of Artisan women that work tirelessly to create and promote their crafts. We work with 3 different communities in Mexico but there are millions of indigenous communities of artisans worldwide who need to be seen and heard. They inspired me to start a company, to take their craft to a bigger stage and off the streets so more people could appreciate and learn about them. At the core of my success will always be the artisans, what I do is all for them and to support handmade, unique, and deserving craftsmanship all around the world.