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Lombia + Co. Preserving the Craft of Indigenous Women

September 01, 2021 26 min read

Episode 3: Lombia + Co.: Preserving the Craft of Indigenous Women
Episode 3 LOMBIA and CO.

Originally aired as an IG Live @lombiawayuubags in early July 2021

Michaela from Ocelot Market

Hi everyone. I'm Michaela. I am the lead for Ocelot Market and we're based in New Orleans and really happy to have Jade join us today to talk about her artisan brand venture. We are on a tour of talking to different brands right now with a bunch of different stories that'll go live on a podcast in a couple of weeks, but today definitely digging into Jade's story. And so Jade, I was just wondering for our audience, if you would give a brief introduction and a little bit of background about your entrepreneurial journey, and I love your physical background. 

Jade from Lombia + Co.

As you can see I have one of each of the Wayuu bags that we design on display [behind her], but about the entrepreneurial journey, I first came to Colombia in 2014. And Wayuu bags are extremely popular in Colombia. I think it is the most popular craft. From the very beginning, I've always been very interested in SEO and online marketing. So this whole project really started off as a blog about Colombian culture, which had nothing to do with Wayuu bags. The goal was really to learn about SEO and marketing and this blog quickly became one of the biggest expat blog references, this was six years ago in Colombia. And I learned a lot along the way and everything I learned about SEO and marketing later, I carried all the skills that I learned into this e-commerce of Wayuu bags. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

That's great. And you say expat, can I ask where you're from?

Jade from Lombia + Co.

I'm originally born in France, but I lived a little bit everywhere. I lived a little bit in Florida, I lived a few years in France. I lived a couple of years in Luxembourg, in Spain, and I've been here now in Colombia for over six years. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

Oh wow. You must have a fascinating passport. 

Jade from Lombia + Co.

It's a very cool passport. Yeah, for sure. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

I was wondering if you could tell us more about the Wayuu culture and the women who you work with and the work that they do for Lombia?

Jade from Lombia + Co.

Wayuu women, the women who make the bags, which is why they're called Wayuu bags, they're a nomadic tribe that lives in the northernmost part of Colombia. And this tribe is a matriarchal tribe where the women not only care for their family, but they are also oftentimes the sole providers. And they live in a very desertic region but despite the resources being so scarce, they've cultivated the art of crochet over generations. This art is passed down to them as early as age of six, but they perfect the art of crochet starting at their first menstruation. And during this period, which can be a period of confinement that can last from a couple of weeks to a couple of months to even a couple of years, depending on the capability of the family to take care of this girl for so long during this period of confinement, she will be dedicated to perfecting her skillset as an artisan. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

And can you give us a sense of how long it takes to make one of the bags behind you?

Jade from Lombia + Co.

Absolutely. So the bags that you see here, they're large bags and these are double thread bags. So with double thread bags, let me take this bag for example, just the body we're talking about will take approximately 10 to 15 days. So they start from the bottom, make their way around, and then they'll work their way up. The 10 to 15 days does not count the strap, and does not count the draw string. And of course the person that puts it all together, and that adds a little finishing, as you can tell, it's quite handmade and then we add the tassel and piece it all together, approximately 10 to 15 days. Also, it can take more like 17 to 18 days for a double thread. 

If we're talking about a single thread, which is the most traditional method of making a Wayuu bag. So I will pull up a single thread for you, something like this, as you can see, the detail is a lot finer, something like this will take 20 days and up. Of course this is just counting the body and as well not counting the finishing. So the difference between a [double thread] piece like this and a [single thread] piece like this is about double the time. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

That's amazing. It's a lot of work for each woman. And I know you talk a lot about symbology in your blog and was just wondering if you could give us an overview of how symbology is portrayed in the bags. I’m speaking of symbology related to the Wayuu culture, of course. 

Jade from Lombia + Co.

This symbology and the Wayuu culture is used to represent everyday ordinary objects. It can be something like the movement of the spoon in the soup, the movement of the snake in the sand, because they live in the desert, it could be the shape of the cow’s nostril. One that is very popular is a donkey’s vulva. Symbology is just abstracting very ordinary objects and putting them onto Wayuu bags and putting them on their designs. I do use a little bit of symbology. So off the top of my head, there's this one which uses Wayuu symbology. I don't use it on every single bag because we do like to also make the bags ready for everyday wear and something that appeals to all tastes. But every now and then, yes, we do use Wayuu symbology to honor the Wayuu artisans. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

I know on your site too that you provide a little guide as to what some of the symbols mean. If anyone wants tocheck that out.

Jade from Lombia + Co.

Yeah, there's a lot of design. There's actually a whole article with a few of them, just a few of them that you can find on the blog and their meaning, their name and what they represent, which is a lot of fun. And you can see if the bag you have has one of these designs, which is very cool. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

Yes. And I will say, I should probably check it out because I actually wear a Wayuu bag every day and have for a couple of years now. And I don't think I've ever cross-referenced [the symbology], so I should.

Jade from Lombia + Co.

Yeah, definitely.

Michaela from Ocelot Market

The next question I wanted to talk to you about is the pandemic impact on your work and the artisans. Were there lockdowns, or how did this impact artisans as well as your business? Obviously, the impact is still very much ongoing too in Colombia. 

Jade from Lombia + Co.

Right now, we are not as privileged as citizens in the United States and not everybody has access to a vaccine. So we are doing it in stages. And right now we are at the stage of vaccinating people that are 45 years old and up of course. Artisans have had the opportunity to get vaccinated because if I'm not mistaken, indigenous people were one of the first to get vaccinated. Also, a lot of them do not believe in Western medicine and have opted to hold off on the vaccine. But this past year and all of 2020, we've been in the pandemic, if I'm not mistaken, Colombia has been one of the countries with the longest lockdown in the world.

How has this affected our production and our artisans? 

In the region of La Guajira where the artisans are located at the northernmost part of Colombia, they were only able to leave their house once a week based on the last number on their ID. So as a result, they were only able to run their errands one day out of the whole week, which actually played in our favor because they learned to organize themselves. Instead of running out every single day and buying a little bit of material here, material there, they planned for the whole week. So they actually were able to learn to better organize themselves and raise their production and quantity level, which has been amazing. But in terms of COVID affecting them, they were lucky in the geographic sense that they are more isolated from the city life and from people. They live in their small community and the deserts. In that sense, they haven't been so hardly hit. But, when COVID does hit, they are quite affected because they do not have the same access to healthcare. We have one, actually one of our main artisans, we have five or six providers and only two days ago, her name is Cecilia, she is one of the most, she is an eminence in the Wayuu community. And she's a very important Wayuu leader and just died from COVID. So it's still a very real situation that hopefully will come to an end soon. But in terms of production, we haven't been so hardly hit. Actually, it's been a great way for us to get more organized.

Michaela from Ocelot Market

And do you find that [the pandemic has] impacted the number of orders you've gotten though in terms of international orders, especially?

Jade from Lombia + Co.

In terms of sales we did not grow in 2020, we're impacted in the fact that we did not increase. We're not able to sell any more, but people, everybody was online, everybody was connected. Everybody was shopping online. So we were able to maintain our sales compared to 2019, which I am very grateful for. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

That's good. Hopefully there's only good things ahead. I was noticing that we've got a couple of questions. One person wants to know where you get the threads for the Wayuu bags. 

Jade from Lombia + Co.

That's a great question. So in the region of La Guajira, it's very deserted. There's not a lot of access to a wide array of materials. And I know that there is a very common misconception that Wayuu bags are made of cotton. I think that when you ask an artisan what their bag is made of, they will tell you algodón which in Spanish means cotton. But in reality, they don't know the material of their bags. For them algodón is just a fiber, any fiber. Cotton is not a material that's available in the region of La Guajira and actually all Wayuu bags, regardless of which store sells them are all made from acrylic. 

Wayuu bags are a hundred percent acrylic. I know this doesn't sound very sexy. However, this allows two things. First, it allows that the bright colors on the back of the bag stay put. When you wash a bag, the colors will not fade. They will keep their vibrant hues. And second of all, when it gets dirty acrylic does not absorb stains as much. So it means that they're very easy to wash. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

That's good to note that you can wash the bags too. I feel like I've never owned a purse that I was able to wash until now.

Jade from Lombia + Co.

Yes, you can turn this inside out, pop it in the washing machine on a quick 15 minute cycle. And it comes out brand new. So answering the question of who produces these threads, these acrylic threads. It's just a big Colombian manufacturer, I think they’re called Mira [spelling uncertain] Threads. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

So the same person wants to know what was used before acrylic. And then I think we'll get back to my long list of questions. 

Jade from Lombia + Co.

So before acrylic, cotton was used in the region before these bags became mass produced, or you know, so many artisans started making these bags, they weren’t selling it to the public. They were making it for themselves and they didn't have to produce so many bags. It was just for personal use for, you know, for oneself or your children. And that's it. So at that time, Wayuu artisans used to grow cotton and then they would dye it using natural dyes. So actually they looked nothing like that from the past before they started getting sold abroad, so they looked nothing like the Wayuu bags today. They had very earthy tones and of course they were from cotton so much more natural. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

Okay, thank you. I wanted to pivot back to talking about the artisans. And this is kind of building off of some of the answers you said before. But how have you seen the work you do, so the purchases you're able to make for the women artisans who are making the products, how have you seen those purchases impact the lives of the women artisans? 

Jade from Lombia + Co.

That's a very good question. I think that's a question that a lot of customers ask. The mission behind Lombia is to give women financial freedom. This is the end goal. For me this is so important as this opens up doors for a brighter future for these women and their family. This was a gift that was given to me that has changed my life. And as a result, this business was founded on this concept and I want these women to have the same opportunity. I want them to raise everyone around them and for them to also make their own financial decisions. So in order to do that, we need to empower them financially and [ensure] that they have the cash flow to be able to make their own decisions. Right? 

As a result, what we do is not only do we give them, we do this two ways. The first is to give them ongoing work, so they don't have to be out on the streets, on the market, trying to sell their bag, maybe selling only one or two a day. Here they have a steady flow of sales coming in month after month. 

Many women we've been working with for over three years. So the first is by providing steady income. And the second is by paying them above market value for these bags. So let's say these bags, they would sell for a dollar—making up a number, but they would sell it for a dollar in La Guajira. We pay 25 to 30% above market price to make sure that they really feel compensated for their time and that their art is valued and that they feel that they can actually make a decent living from their arts. So we try to make an impact by empowering them financially. 

As a result, we've seen a lot of changes in the lives of these women. There's one woman. Her name is Rosa. She used to live at her sister's house because of course before working with us she couldn't afford her own place. She was able to move out of her sister's house. Now she met somebody, she's pregnant. She's actually due in two months and she's going to be able to start her own family and provide for her family, which has been amazing. This same person, Rosa, was also able to save for her community. The communities in the desert don't have a lot of resources. A lot of the people in this community were going to the mountains every time they had to go to the bathroom, there was no bathroom. There were no toilets. And she was actually able to build a toilet in the community. So every time somebody needs to go, they don't need to run out in the mountains or in the river. They can stay in their community. And I think this is also extremely important for sanitation. Her sister also works with her and has been able to put her daughter through school and she's been able to pay her monthly school fees for her daughter, which has been just such a joy to see. We have other women who have been able to provide for their entire family, which isn't only providing for their children, but also providing for their mother, their grandmother, their in-laws, their brothers and sisters. It's been just really amazing seeing the women that have been working with us for a while now for over a year, sometimes two or three, the impact is massive. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

That's amazing. And the story of being able to add a bathroom to the community is definitely very tangible and very amazing. The consistency I'm sure is great from a peace of mind vantage point in terms of the consistency of orders and orders ahead of time. 

What is a day like for these women? I know that's changed in the pandemic, but in terms of what is their typical day like, in terms of making bags and the familial commitments, community commitments—more just curious.

Jade from Lombia + Co.

So a lot of these women are doing all the heavy lifting in the house. And on top of that, a lot of them are the sole providers. So they'll wake up with the sun at five, six a.m. They'll start cooking for their children. They'll start caring for their elderly and they'll start - crocheting is something that happens as you go. So they'll crochet a little bit in the morning while they're doing their other household chores. Then once everyone's settled in the morning they’ll sit on a hammock in the shade and keep on crocheting with other ladies. This is a very communal activity. So they'll chit chat as they crochet. And then right before lunchtime they'll get up, they’ll prepare lunch again. So they set their craft aside, make sure everybody's fed. And then in the afternoon, they'll pick up again and crochet up until dinner time. In these communities a lot of the time there's no electricity. If they do have electricity, it's solar powered, but this is not very common. And they'll usually go to bed with the sun. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

It's a long day. Two more questions that came in were where are you from? And you are from France. You had answered that earlier. And then how long have you worked on this project? Cause I think you were just alluding to having doing this for years. 

Jade from Lombia + Co.

Yes. I started in 2014, so I actually didn't start by designing the bags, but I started just buying ready-made Wayuu bags and just selling them on third party websites. And over the years after building solid relationships with the artisans and really trying to get involved with the community, about two years later, Lombia started to finally have its own line. And we've been at this since, for the past six years. I started this project a few months after I arrived in Colombia. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

We've talked that before you started you had a full time job and like many entrepreneurs who start their entrepreneurial journey, they have a full-time job and then slowly hope to transition and you did make the transition at some point a couple of years ago. And that's amazing, but that's definitely a very common story that I hear is people working a full-time job and then being able to transition [full-time to being an entrepreneur].

Jade from Lombia + Co.

Yes, I was very lucky in the sense that I had my basic needs covered by my partner. So I didn't have to pay any bills. And like I previously mentioned, I was given the gift of financial freedom from a very strong woman in my family, which was my grandmother. And with this little bit of money, I was able to not only start this project, but it wasn't enough for me to just throw myself into it. So I was freelancing when I arrived to Colombia. And then I had this project on the side. It took me a couple of years because my freelance jobs pay me quite well. So it was hard to make the jump. And I actually freelanced for three years before I made the jump full time to these Wayuu bags. So it's been only three years since I've been full-time and the jump was amazing. I remember the months that I just couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't do both. And sales were growing with the Wayuu bags yet I still couldn't make the full transition. And I'm going to tell you Michaela, the month I quit my freelancing and I dedicated a hundred percent of my energy to the bags, whatever I was making freelance that I gave up that month it more than made up for in sales that same month in bags. It's something amazing. Just the energy that you put in a project directly came back. It was a hundred percent worth it. And then from there, I've never looked back. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

That's amazing because that jump is very, very difficult. For some reason all of a sudden you start worrying if you're going to be able to afford your bills, even though you know you've planned the numbers and this is viable. 

So what's a typical Lombia day like for you, how do you manage running all aspects of this business, especially you do a phenomenal job with marketing. Any good tools you recommend as well? 

Jade from Lombia + Co.

I automate a lot of things, but what does a typical day look like? Since October, so during pandemic, here in Bogotá we were really under a strict lockdown and I live in quite a small apartment and I just couldn't wait to get out. So the minute October hit I ran out the door and started looking for an office. I found an office. So since October, 2020, I was able to get my own space for the bags and move out of the guest bedroom. 

And a typical day is receiving new bags. I do have an operational manager, so she will help me pack orders. She will help me process incoming bags and everything that has to do with office work. I automate a lot. So I might use tools like Zapier. I have Trello to stay organized. Zapier has been quite a lifesaver. It automates a lot of small tasks. I have someone to help with social media and then I schedule my posts using later. So I do have quite a few tools to help me stay on top and stay present, because it would be very hard to do it all by myself.

Michaela from Ocelot Market

That's amazing. I know Zapier is like the next big thing I need to tackle. It now integrates with almost everything it seems like, and if they don't integrate with something, they have a workaround to be able to help you automate it with some code. If there are any entrepreneurs overloaded listening, I definitely suggest you look into Zapier for sure. And Trello. I know I totally get it. I used to use Asana which is a very similar tool, very helpful for tracking. 

In terms of the work your team does for marketing and scheduling it later and just overall prepping your materials…How do you make sure you incorporate connecting the consumers to the story of the Wayuu women and the bags for your brand and creating content around that story to make sure that the message comes across and that people are very much aware of what goes into each bag?

Jade from Lombia + Co.

That's a great question. It's continuously educating the consumer about how the bag is made, who makes it, where it's made, who's behind these bags, that there's over 150 artisans behind Lombia working full time. And I think this story needs to be told by telling the story of each artisan and by telling the magic that's woven inside each of the threads. This is not only in social media, but also in the product packaging and all over our Instagram. We try to communicate as much, although there's so much more we could do and so much more to be done, but it's very important to tell the story of the artisan in order to connect the consumer with the brand. Because at the end, the only thing between the consumer and the artisan is me, which I don't see myself as a third party, but as the salesperson for these artisans. I am the connector. So I try to do my best to connect everybody that buys a bag with the artisans. And we have a few things coming up in terms of packaging that's really exciting to help better tell that story, but it is absolutely the first and foremost important thing, the most important thing to communicate is the story of the artisans, which is told through branding and through social media. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

That's great. So in a world where there are a few other Wayuu bag producers that we sort of see, especially in America, do you think telling that story is one of the major ways that you stand out in terms of standing out from the other brands? 

Jade from Lombia + Co.

The two things that Lombia focuses on are great design and great quality, and affordable price. This is what we focus on. And I think that good design with good quality at a good price point are three points that are very hard to get elsewhere. You might get one of the two or the two, but you'll still be missing one. You might get great design and great quality, but it will be very expensive. Or if you want affordable price, you might not get the beautiful designs that you like or the great quality. Here, you don't have to compromise any of the three. And that's what we really focus on. But of course there's a lot of people selling Wayuu bags and the market is huge. There's almost 8 billion people in the world. So there's a slice of pie for everybody. 

One thing that we absolutely try to avoid is to not look at our competitors’ designs because we know that the minute we look at their designs, we'll have them in our head. And then when it's our turn to get into the flow and start designing we’ll design something that we think is ours, which is really inspired by our competitors. So to try and stay original, we avoid looking at what other people are doing and look outside to other Wayuu bag companies. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

It's sort of similar to music and it's hard. It's hard to not be inspired. To follow up on the price point, I actually did want to ask you how you maintain that affordability because what I've noticed in the Wayuu bag market, and definitely one of the reasons we started working with you through purchasing a couple of years ago, is definitely because one of the main ethos, this was before I even was part of Ocelot Market, is to have affordable products that are made well and also made ethically. How do you sort of maintain that affordability? Would you say the automation is a huge part of that too? Is it just being very lean with your operations because I've definitely seen bags that you sell a similar type of twice as much, if not three times as much in price. And it's hard for me to pinpoint what the difference in the bag is.

Jade from Lombia + Co.

We are extremely lean in our operations. And like I said, I automate a lot of things instead of getting people and I don't have to manage a huge team at the end, maybe working behind the scenes, we are no more than five or six. And even that includes freelancing and hiring for specific projects. But really everyday we're only two people. Plus the accounting, let's say four people. So I think keeping lean is definitely one and keeping costs down or packaging quite simple. We really focus on quality and design, but our marketing efforts, we don't have extravagant costs, where our spending really goes is in the bag itself. It's in the product of the bags. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

That's great. Do you have any tips for me as a retailer communicating the story and the sort of work that goes into the bag to our consumers? I definitely notice in our new shop in New Orleans, it's the first time so many people see these bags. They love them, but the fact that it's made in Colombia, the fact that it's made by a woman, the fact that it takes a week to make—is not necessarily something that's right away intuitive. Do you have any tips for retailers purchasing Wayuu bags for how to communicate that to the consumer? 

Jade from Lombia + Co.

If you are a wholesaler that is representing Lombia, I hope that within the next couple of weeks, we will have really, really beautiful branding that we’ll start including with the bags, which tells the story of the products much better. And it will have a really cute detail that really connects the consumer with the product and with the artisan. But one thing that can be done is, of course having information about the artisans by the products, is talking to your customer about how far away and the kilometers and miles that this bag has traveled to be in their hands. Not only does it come from Colombia, but it comes from the most remote part of Colombia. It comes from a desertic region where there's no telephone signal, even in these communities. I can't get a hold of them until they come into the city. It's really feeling the magic. 

I have so many resources onmy blog to read the stories of the artisans and where the bag comes from. So you as a retailer can really share that story. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

Yes. And I love that you even put the hang tags on each of the bags, it might seem so small, but I love that that alone connects people to the brand right away too. I could ask you a million other questions for sure. 

I'm guessing with the pandemic, you haven't had a chance to go visit the artisans in quite a while. Is that accurate? Because you were regularly visiting them weren't you?

Jade from Lombia + Co.

Yes. I used to go right at the beginning. I was going once every four to five weeks, which was so intense. And so labor-intensive, but after a couple of years, I started going once every two to three months. And this was also just to see what models were being produced, to check up on the artisans, and to really build those relationships. And this I was doing for about two years, but the minute the pandemic hit, I think I was so lucky that we had built such solid relationships because with all the lockdowns in Colombia, which were extremely strict lockdowns, I was unable to go to La Guajira and with no vaccine considering the distance and considering the health care in the desert, I didn’t want to find myself in a compromising position. I put off going actually until December or was it January 2021? So I was there about six months ago. And again, it was really just to reinforce our relationships and to say hello, but I haven't been back since. I would like to go back very soon because it's way overdue. But yes, because of the condition right now, it's a little bit difficult for me to go as frequently as I would like to. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

I know it's very unfortunate times we're in, but it sounds like you would credit a lot of that one-on-one personal time to the success of your business in terms of meeting the artisans and developing those relationships instead of communicating entirely over the internet or WhatsApp and never actually having met in person. It sounds like a lot of the success you would credit to meeting them in person.

Jade from Lombia + Co.

I have to say we're very fortunate because before lockdown, we had been working with a lot of the artisans for maybe up to three years prior. So they know exactly how we work and there's trust both ways. Now there's trust that we will give them continuous work, that we will actually pay them because we pay 50% upfront, and then we pay the other 50% once the merchandise arrives just in case there's anything that needs to be returned. We pay once everything is here in the office. So there is a lot of trust that has to go both ways that we were able to establish pre-pandemic. I think that if we were just starting off, even a year prior to the pandemic, this would have disappeared for sure. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

Would you recommend somebody…I mean, it's a little bit challenging right now, but if someone wants to start a similar business that those personal physical meetings were crucial in order to establish the business? 

Jade from Lombia + Co.

So not only are you dealing with artisans, but you're dealing with Colombian artisans and not only are they Colombian artisans, but they’re indigenous Colombian artisans. And so here there's three things to tackle and it is so important, the face-to-face. I think there's a personal connection that needs to be built with the artisans. Working in Colombia is very different from working in the US or working in Europe where you put in an order and it's business only. Here, it's not business only. You chat, small talk is extremely important. The power of small talk can not be undermined in this country, but you talk about your personal things. Their family having that personal connection is step one, before developing a business connection. It's not possible to develop a business connection first. So yes, for anybody that would be interested in working with artisans, especially in Colombia I think the first thing to keep in mind is that personal contact is extremely, extremely important. And getting right down to business does not work here in Colombia . Actually, people are not receptive to that at all. Just throwing money in people's faces is not a good enough incentive. People aren't interested just in money. There's so many other things to working with people. And the first is to get along. The first is to have a good relationship. Then later we can discuss money, but money is definitely not the most important thing here. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

Good words of wisdom, especially in America. Sometimes we are so removed from just even these physical relationships in this online world. And with that in mind, do you have any tips for someone who would like to start a similar business? I mean, this might be a hard question because I'm asking you sort of globally as to how to even start with finding an artisan group to work with who makes products while also trying to create a unique business. 

Jade from Lombia + Co.

I've seen people do this virtually. And I find that amazing because I don't know how they were able to build a working relationship with artisans via the internet. But I think it's doing a lot of research because artisans, unlike traditional manufacturers, they might not deliver on time or everybody says they can do it. And then it's not really what you expect in terms of quality or in terms of the times, or in terms of many things, it might not meet your expectations. So I think for anyone that wants to work with artisans is to first do a lot of research, to second, test. And third, I would recommend to travel and actually meet these people face to face. I think that's extremely important to building solid long-term relationships. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

Yeah, no, that's a good tip. In terms of research, do you think, even just starting with Google, I know that it's definitely been recommended to me to start diving deep into Etsy because many, many artisans just don't have a website too, but they might have a connection through, I find often through an intermediary on Etsy. Or do you, were you thinking Google in terms of research? 

Jade from Lombia + Co.

I honestly can't say because I met my artisans traveling. I never did any research in that internet sense. I just went and traveled and my research was done by constantly traveling every five weeks and asking around and meeting and meeting. I met so many artisans, so many to find the right ones. So I can’t say how to go about finding them on the internet. My research was a little bit different and much more physical, but you have to start somewhere. And if not, I guess Google's the way. That's a great idea because I know there's a lot of artisans that, that sell handmade things there. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

As you pointed out, when you travel to and go to a lot of markets, a lot of the people who are selling the products are the makers. In terms of you start a conversation there, you see a woman with a stand of Wayuu bags, and then you say, “where'd you get this from?” It's like, “oh, I made them.”  And then a whole business empire starts from there.

Jade from Lombia + Co.

Well, even then it's tricky because traveling to La Guajira, not everybody that sells a Wayuu bag is a Wayuu artisan. Some of them are providers. Some of them actually buy from artisans and pay a very low price and then resell. So actually even going to La Guajira is not just a reliable source. You have to ask, you have to ask around. It took me three years to find the right artisans. Like I said, I've been working. So I've been working for six years in total. The first three years was all research. It really took a long time. Just going to La Guajira is not enough. There's a lot of resellers actually in there. They might not even be Wayuu, they might not even be indigenous. So it's been quite challenging, but it's part of the journey. And it's part of the beauty of working with artisans. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

Yes. And working in any sort of fair trade business it's so important to ask questions and to be very aware of your production. Like the fact that you were easily able to answer where the thread comes from is really good, really impressive, in terms of you're going to be asked every question about all aspects of the product. So you should probably ask them upfront.

Well thank you Jade, I think we got to most of the questions. Are there any last points you wanted to make on our IG live?

Jade from Lombia + Co.

No, thank you so much for, for having me and taking the initiative to interview me. This was a pleasure. Thank you so much. And if you have any other questions and for every, anybody else that has any questions, feel free to reach out at lombia.co so it’s Lombia + Co. which is Colombia backwards. And anything that you might wonder, I'd be glad to answer. This is a hundred percent transparent company. We know the entire production line from start to finish, and we'd be glad to answer any questions. 

Michaela from Ocelot Market

Thank you very much and enjoy the rest of your Thursday. Bye everyone.

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