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Life and Work with Maria Salazar

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Salazar.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Maria. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
This journey began when I came across one of my life passions: empowering and representing our women artisans of the Wayuu tribe. About a year ago, I started nurturing my passion for entrepreneurship through these artisans, by understanding their traditions.

I was born and raised in Neiva, Colombia, a south-central city. But over the last eight years that I lived in Southern California, it became the place I also call home. Wherever I go, I want to reinforce my roots and represent my Latin culture, almost like an ambassador. I’m proud to see this reality came true last year with Arawayuu.

I decided to advocate these women because of their lack of resources, and their tradition, but they still do more with less. The Wayuu tribe proves there is more behind Colombia than most San Diegans think. Even though I’m not part of the Wayuu tribe, I admire and respect their heritage. I want to raise multicultural awareness in California, which is already known as a melting pot.

More than launching a business, I want to educate a community on how to shop with a purpose. Additionally, I want to boost the concept of colors and unique pieces with one of my hobbies: jewelry. I decided to launch the tassel earring and choker collections with one goal: to allow our Arawayuu community to feel confident. An accessory can complement in many ways a style. I thought the best pieces to complement our mochila bags collection were our “go-to” pieces with great versatility for everyone’s style and season.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I’ve learned that “struggles” equals solutions and valuable lessons! It can be easy to lose motivation when some doors close, but it is in my personality to find new ones. I’m determined, a go-getter and very outgoing, always looking for opportunities to grow on this journey. I’m aware that anything in life takes time, commitment and patience. I have learned three key lessons this year and would love to share them with our SD Voyager readers: Be more than just a “people’s” person, know your audience and find a way to connect with them and be remembered, and always be open to feedback.

I highly recommend entrepreneurs to get out of their comfort zones and reach out to people. Do not be afraid to ask for something; after all, the least they can say is “No.” If there’s anything that I would advise anyone starting a new project, it is always to trust the process. I have been able to develop this mindset as I launch Arawayuu. It has become a great part of the process to balance and mix my personal and professional career.

Please tell us about Arawayuu.
Arawayuu is born in San Diego and crafted in La Guajira, Colombia. Our community strives to preserve and represent the unique life stories behind every mochila bag. Our mission is to educate our community to shop with a purpose, 10% of our profits go back to the Wayuu tribe.

I want the world to know what these women do with so little. Their economic conditions are not the best. What drew me into this journey was my sense of dedication in combining the best of both cultures. Here I am today putting a spotlight on the life stories of our Colombian women artisans. Our artisans use an ancient hand-weaving technique passed down from generation to generation. It can take one women artisan approximately 160 hours to create a unique mochila bag. The authenticity in every mochila bag and every pair of earrings offers a unique experience from other brands. No one else will ever wear the same piece, and that is why Arawayuu is just for you!

Additionally, I want to share my personal meaning behind our Arawayuu logo, a pineapple. I’m personally obsessed with pineapples as these serve as a tropical, colorful, and warm hospitality welcome sign; and that’s what our brand is all about! Lastly, our Wayuu artisans play a great role behind this exotic fruit, symbolizing women empowerment.

Often it feels as if the media, by and large, is only focused on the obstacles faced by women, but we feel it’s important to also look for the opportunities. In your view, are there opportunities that you see that women are particularly well positioned for?
As more and more people are joining our Arawayuu community, I’m motivated to keep empowering our business women and artisans. My goal is to share life stories that resonate with our colorful pieces! We have been able to do this through social media and grow our community because our stories speak for themselves. As we get to share the purpose behind our brand, we reach broader audiences not only nationwide, but also worldwide.

More than just another successful business, we aim to help other local businesses grow. I think women are positioned for great things counting on the great support from each other. Women are all about opportunities nowadays with their advanced skill sets. It goes beyond than a career or a job title, it’s about the journey overall.

As it is today, I have had the pleasure and honor to work with other powerful brands and amazing people. I would not be where I am today if it would not be for the Arawayuu community, my family, closest friends, and my partner. I’m proud to be who I am as a public relations professional, social media specialist and founder and creative designer of Arawayuu. I can’t thank everyone for making this journey even better with all their advice, help and support.

Pricing:

  • Wayuu Mochila Bag – $75
  • Wayuu Clutch Bag – $60
  • Stacked Tassel Earrings – $20
  • Choker / Bracelet – $30
  • Sandals – $50

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Bronwyn Huddleson Photography – www.bronwynhuddleson.com, Taylor Peterson Photography – www.taylor.pb.photography.com

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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