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Meet Andrea Jaramillo of LATELIER in Downtown LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrea Jaramillo.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Growing up in Los Angeles, I was always exposed to different cultures, ways of life and experiences, especially from Latin America where my family is from. As I got older, I used those experiences to explore the world independently. When I was 18, I left LA for Colorado to study International Affairs. I wasn’t sure where I wanted it to lead me but I knew I loved to explore and share stories from what I had experienced. Around this time, the blogosphere was taking off and I liked the idea of sharing my ideas and experiences on a virtual platform, so I started a little writing blog. The next ten years were a whirlwind of moving, traveling, cultures and life. After college, I moved to Bogota, Colombia where I worked in fashion and wrote an expat blog called Andre Abroad.

Next, I moved to Barcelona to complete my post-graduate in Trend Research, which ignited by passion for analyzing cultural shifts and how they affect product consumption and societal behavior. After that, I moved briefly to NYC, where I worked for a brand activation agency and began outlining and developing my own brand, LATELIER. I realized pretty quickly that NYC wasn’t the place for me, so I packed my bags again and moved back to Bogota. I worked in Bogota on my brand for about year before life finally brought me (and LATELIER) back to LA. I had been dying to come back to LA for years but found myself avoiding it or working on something that didn’t allow me to. When I finally got the opportunity, I took it and haven’t looked back since.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Nothing in life is ever smooth. There are learning curves and obstacles every step of the way, but that’s part of living. A truly rich life has you face adversity and asks you to problem solve your way out of it. I wouldn’t change a single aspect of my experience in the last ten years. I loved it all: the good, the bad, and the not-so cute.

LATELIER – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
LATELIER was born out of a love for travel and the desire to share the stories of the people and places I had lived or visited. After spending years abroad, I combined my love of design and the necessity to create a more sustainable fashion industry, by uplifting handcrafted artistry and launched LATELIER in 2017. I brought my vision to life with the first collection, made in collaboration with the Kuna indigenous tribe in northern Colombia.

Each product is created by the hands of artisans who have been perfecting their craft for generations. Not only are they beautifully crafted, but they tell the story of each artisan and their culture, tradition and history. Today, LATELIER is based in Los Angeles, working with artisans in both Mexico and Colombia, as well as with local artists to create a network ethical craftsmanship.

Recently, I’ve been feeling a shift in the direction of fashion, especially in Los Angeles. Our style here has to be adaptable to our lifestyle. Both quarantine and living in LA has forced me into a more casual style than when I lived in Barcelona or Bogota. Now, I prioritize comfort and practicability with easy, comfortable pieces but still add elements that elevate the look for when I want to feel glamorous. At LATELIER, I want to reflect that in the next collection too and emphasize sustainable fabrics and local production. I’m preparing for a Fall 2020 drop that emulates a new kind of California chic.

My side hustle is working with my boyfriend on his project: Taste Buds, an experiential food pop-up in DTLA, combining conceptual menus with art and photography.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment of my career has been working with the Kuna women and offering a platform for them to share their stories, culture and history through their art, called Molas.

Molas are hand-stitched fabrics which tell stories of the tribes’ history and tradition. This craft is passed down from generation to generation, mother to daughter for centuries.

Due to civil conflict and violence in Colombia, many Kuna people have been forced from their land and displaced to larger cities. Before being displaced, their community (which is largely matriarchal) relied on creating Molas and trading them with nearby communities. After being displaced, they are forced to find new or different jobs in the cities in order to survive. This puts their art, and ultimately their traditional culture and history at risk of extinction.

LATELIER was able to work with a co-op of Kuna women so that they could continue working on their craft in a space, protected space and make a living wage doing so while also respecting the integrity of their art and history.

My second proudest moment was working with my boyfriend, Matt, on our first Taste Buds pop-up dinner last spring and helping bring his vision to life. Somehow, we pulled off serving 24 people an 8-course tasting menu, complete with artistic visuals and live music. We were severely understaffed and under-prepared but we pulled it off (still not sure how though!).

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Photos 1, 2, 3 taken by Brandon Young. Photos 4, 5, 6 taken by Cristina Salagar

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