It’s hard to believe, but I have to say I have the perfect job. As an artist, traveler, and person who loves living life in all its colors, Abrazo Style is my dream come true. When people ask me how I became involved in “the clothing business,” I have to laugh. I find this question entertaining because, really, I am the kind of person who is more likely to wear hand-me-downs than today’s fashion, and because Abrazo Style is so much more than clothing. It is the people, the relationships, and the stories behind our products that “make” the company.
I started Abrazo Style while living with my family in a small village outside the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. We moved there for "a year abroad" to study Spanish and to experience a different way of life. I had no idea our lives would be fundamentally changed by the beauty, the culture, and the challenges of living there. One year extended into two, two into three, and in our fourth year, I met Martha.
She was standing by the side of a dirt road in our village. I offered her a ride, and, well, the rest is history. Though the most culturally diverse and artistically rich state in Mexico, Oaxaca ranks as the second poorest in the country with an extreme poverty rate of 76%. Martha is part of that statistic. She is poor and struggles to provide for her family, but is motivated to create a better life.
I discovered she knew how to sew and offered to hire her for some embroidery work, which I then sold to friends in the States. Four years later, we now regularly employ nearly 100 artisans in both Oaxaca and Chiapas. With Abrazo Style providing the training and opportunity, our artisans grow in skills, confidence and resources. Martha, and many others like her, are my eternal inspiration.