Another installment of the FRIDAY FIVE. This blog series is just another way to offer a bit of transparency into our cool little world. Here, we will spotlight one of our amazing partners with five easyBreezy questions, so that you can learn more about their product, their story, and why we feel so strongly about having them be part of our crew. Today’s partner: Laura McMahon from SUSU Accessories (IG: @susu_accessories)
SUSU Accessories are made by the women of the Wayúu tribe in La Guajira, Colombia. These ladies are all heads of household, and they use their art of knitting to support their families. It takes years for a knitter to become a master of her craft, and often they learn by making smaller pieces like these bracelets (then move on to larger totes and bags). They practice their ancient art not only for survival, but as a sacred art of devotion.
1. How did you get into this craft?
"Initially, this was my cousin/business partner’s idea. Nadia came to the United States from Colombia, South America about 7 years before me, and she saw that the Wayuu art and their handbags where nowhere to be found here. She saw a business and social opportunity, since she knew first-hand about the Wayuu way of living, their struggles and how their art wasn’t being valued as it should. She and I also grew up with Zulima, who happens to be our third partner and has Wayuu family.
Once Nadia and Zuly started Susu Accessories, they brought me in, and the rest is history!"
2. What has been the most challenging about this experience? What's been the most gratifying?
"We are three professional mothers with backgrounds in Economics, Electrical Engineering, and Language Arts. We are all very driven and smart, but running a business isn’t something any of us had done before. So, while not an obstacle, we find ourselves in a constant state of learning -- both from our experiences and from others. Also front and center is being able to manage our resources in a responsible way, without losing sight of the social aspect of our enterprise. This is and always has been giving the Wayuu, our artisans and partners, their worth, as well as helping them grow as we grow.
The most gratifying part has been to see the results of our labor; the recognition of our brand globally; and the fact that our clients know our work and can differentiate it from anyone else’s. People now not only want a cute, unique, handmade product; they want a Susu bag/bracelet/tote that they know is fashion forward, while being made to the highest standards of fair trade."
3. If you could go back in time to when you first started and give yourself some advice, what would you say?
"Don’t stress too much about the failures. You will get to learn a lot from them and build something better as a result of them."
4. Name the top three things that have helped you grow your business (e.g., social media, shows)?
"--Social media for sure! We sell a lot in places like China and Thailand thanks to Instagram.
--Shows and Markets because when people get to see, touch, and try on our products, they love them. Also, our story and background resonates with the socially conscious client.
--Sales representatives our now a part of our team, and with them we have grown even further."
5. How do you define success?
"Getting paid to do what you love!"