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Life & Work with Susana Cerna

Today we’d like to introduce you to Susana Cerna.

Susana, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I was born in Barranquilla – Colombia in a city where you can breathe culture and folklore 365 days a year. When I met my husband I came to live in Los Angeles but my heart still missed Barranquilla and to this day I still do. And how I’ve always liked having my own money. I wanted to start seeing how I could bring my culture and earn money at the same time. In Barranquilla, my mother had opened a handicraft business and she told me why I didn’t do the same as her in Los Angeles and that’s how she gave me the idea to open Mawisa Handicraft. I took the savings I had and in October 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, I decided to open my Colombian handicrafts business in Los Angeles.

I am about to turn two years old and although it has been a road that has not been easy at all. So Mawisa Handicraft has started to be recognized. I still have to fulfill my dream of opening a store, but I feel that people know, thanks to my entrepreneurship, about all the beautiful crafts that Colombian artisans are capable of making and that Mawisa Handicraft directly helps indigenous artisans from Colombia because I buy directly from them and I know that the money does not remain with third parties and they have the opportunity to keep 100% of the value of their product.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
No path is easy when you have a business. Suddenly some fight it more than others, but it’s never easy. In my case, I have had to give respect to my product to people who think that because they are handicrafts they have no value and therefore everything has to be almost given away. I have also had to fight with the one who thinks that you are not going to make it. But I always keep in mind that I can do it and despite having two small children to take care of, I can get my business forward.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I dedicate to selling handicrafts from my country Colombia, which is where I am from such as hats, bracelets, straw bags and the famous Wayuu bags, placemats, souvenirs of Colombia and I want to expand to sell a variety of handicrafts because Colombia is rich in a variety of these. And what I feel most proud of is that I show people the other side of my country, which is not only drug trafficking and drugs, but there is also a beautiful part culturally speaking. And I feel that I am different because when they buy from me. They are buying knowledge because through my crafts, I help them travel throughout Colombia.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Even if it comes from a family. Always get into your head that you can do it.

Don’t let fear win you either. Dare and along the way, you learn from your mistakes.

Don’t think too much about things either and dare to open your business because along the way you will see what you can do better for your business.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
I myself am the author of the photos

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