Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Salazar .
Maria , let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
It all started about seven years ago when I realized how passionate I was to represent my Colombian culture in California. I came to San Diego for school and graduated last year with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from San Diego State University.
I was born and raised in a small town in Colombia, but over the past years, California became that 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.
This journey began when I came across one of my life passions: empowering and representing our Colombian 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 decided to advocate for these women because of their lack of resources to do so, but even then, they still do more for their community than people can see or know. This tribe proves there is a lot to learn from them and from people in Colombia. 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 give my community in San Diego the opportunity 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 collection with one goal: to allow our Arawayuu community to communicate a message.
An accessory can complement in many ways a style. I thought the best pieces to complement our mochila bags collection were our tassel earrings, our “go-to” pieces with great versatility. As it is today, I have had the pleasure and honor to work with other powerful brands and amazing people. They have made this journey even better with all their advice, help and support.
I would not be where I am today if it was not for the Arawayuu community, my family, closest friends, and my partner. As a public relations professional, social media specialist, and currently, founder and creative designer of Arawayuu, I came across the need to share our artisans’ life stories.
Has it been a smooth road?
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.
Part of being outgoing is to enjoy connecting with other people, and also being able to read their needs. You never know how a connection can develop, either into a potential customer, friend or maybe a business partner. The art of networking is definitely a key to my business and all other businesses. 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. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the time, but we all have 24 hours a day. We can do so much in just ONE day; the key is to dedicate time and not just be busy, be productive instead.
I find it very interesting to meet other entrepreneurs facing a similar process, but this process is never the same for everyone. I always try to remember this phrase, whenever I feel discouraged or feel like giving up: “you’re not lost in life, you’re just early in the process” (Gary Vaynerchuk).
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Arawayuu story. Tell us more about the business.
Arawayuu was born in San Diego and crafted in La Guajira, Colombia. Our community aims 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.
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. Arawayuu showcases the talent of our artisans with one-of-a-kind pieces. 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!
Through our brand, I also want to help our community express its style, especially because I want them to express confidence and uniqueness in their own selves. A little touch of color can brighten up someone’s day! Additionally, I want to share my personal meaning behind pineapples, our Arawayuu logo. I’m obsessed with pineapples, and I want to symbolize women’s empowerment through this tropical fruit. Our Arawayuu artisans play a great role behind this message. They inspire us to be like a pineapple, “Stand tall, wear a crown and be sweet” (Kat Gaskin, The Salty Pineapple).
Their hard work and creativity can inspire others to be different through our unique beauties. We want to innovate trends with all kinds of colors, shapes, and designs. I’m nurturing my passion for creativity with Arawayuu, by building a brand with colors that are not just suitable for summer time. Arawayuu (italicized) was created for every season and every mood!
Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
As more and more people are joining our Arawayuu community, I’m motivated to keep empowering our women artisans’ traditions. 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.
Hopefully, in 5 to 10 years I see Arawayuu as a fascinating community for all ages and genders. More than just another successful business, we aim to become the “game-changers” of fashion trends for all types of audiences. From men to women and kids, we want to include everyone, willing to share the essence of our brand. Our pieces are created for different audiences, and we are looking for ways to expand this concept.
In a few years, we see ourselves setting trends with colorful styles, keeping it boho-chic and at the same time casual and classy. Our products are crafted for everyone, allowing them to pick and choose the right piece. Certainly, we will keep our authenticity in creating unique designs and innovate with new concepts.
We will always be grateful and proud of our Arawayuu community here in San Diego.
Every milestone attained deserves praise to our talented artisans in Colombia. We will keep working closely with them to understand their needs and traditions. Arawayuu will be known in the local community for its multicultural awareness.
- Wayuu Mochila Bag – Single Colored $65
- Wayuu Mochila Bag – Multicolored $68
- Wayuu Mini Mochila Bag – $30
- Stacked Ombre-Shaded Tassel Earrings – $15
- Palm Trees Tassel Earrings – $20
- Single Tassel Earrings – $12
- Wayuu Clutch – $50
- Website: www.arawayuustore.com/
- Phone: 917-7552419
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/arawayuu/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Arawayuuu/
Kimberly Anne Pierson, Steven Miranda, Radiant Life Photography by Caitlin Garrett