(This blog was originally published in December 2014 on my Latin Threads Trading Co. blog. To enjoy dozens of stories of glee and woe dating back to our founding in 2009, click here.)
Friends often remind me that I need to pause to look back at how far we’ve come at Abrazo Style. I’m not very good at looking back, but when I do take a moment I see a business with a growing number of passionate people who together are creating an exceptional collection of high quality, socially responsible, handcrafted apparel and accessories, despite the odds.
Our successes (and failures) over the past year resonate with the recurring theme of problem solving in virtually every aspect of what we do. Thinking out of the box (not recommended for those who aren’t in it for an adventure) is a prerequisite, while patience, persistence, and creativity in navigating diverse cultures is the only way to get things done.
Recently, while driving a road in Oaxaca contemplating where and how we could source the new plastic we needed for our totes (after months of frustrating dead ends), I noticed while waiting at a traffic light that the truck in front of me was covered in signs advertising recycled plastic. I grabbed a pen and quickly wrote down the phone number on my hand as the light turned green. That evening I called the number and, miraculously, connected with someone who knew someone who could help.
This is how we roll in Mexico. No amount of Google searches, phone books, or even legwork will guarantee success.
We experienced a rather stunning array of unpleasant surprises in 2014, the tales from which great novels are written. Everything from jealous mistresses to corrupt government officials, from plastic cartels to prolonged village fiestas blocked our path and even threatened our existence. Out of necessity we have been re-inventing our manufacturing processes and sometimes even the materials that our products are made out of.
But here we are, another year under our belt, growing stronger despite the odds. We continue to learn, sometimes stumbling, occasionally flying, building Abrazo Style, brick by brick.
Looking back, yes, I see we have accomplished a lot. But mostly I see the women and men we work with, growing and learning, gaining greater self-confidence, happiness, and financial stability. That’s what makes the rest of this crazy adventure worthwhile.